Lions Host Twinbill vs. No. 1 Michigan on Wednesday
April 19, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State softball welcomes the No. 1 team in the country for the first time on Wednesday as Michigan visits Beard Field for a doubleheader beginning at 5:30 p.m. The twinbill will be shown live on the Big Ten Network and fans are encouraged to wear white to the ballpark for the white out event.
The games will also be aired on the radio on 1390 AM WRSC in State College with a simulcast on GoPSUsports.com All-Access. Both matchups will have live stats coverage through GameTracker and commentary on Twitter (www.twitter.com/PSULionSoftball).
Games #41-42 April 20 Nittany Lion Softball Park University Park, Pa.
TICKET & MEDIA CREDENTIAL INFORMATION
More information: 2011 Nittany Lion Softball Park Ticket Information
Nittany Lions look to knock off No. 1 Michigan in TV game at Beard Field on Wednesday
Currently, Michigan is first in the Big Ten (7-1), while Penn State (5-5) is sixth
The Nittany Lions host the No. 1 team in the country for the first time in Happy Valley
Penn State has won its last two matchups while the Wolverines were ranked No. 1
Nittany Lions split two conference games at Minnesota this past weekend
Jackie Hill earned her sixth shutout of the season against the Golden Gophers on Sunday
Penn State is riding a four-game home winning streak after sweeps of Kent St. and Buffalo
Kailyn Johnson is on a tear recently, upping her season average to .320 and .443 OBP
The Nittany Lions have displayed a fighting spirit in eight comeback wins this season
Penn State currently ranked 46th in the latest RPI with a 3-5 record against Top 25 opponents
SCOUTING THE WOLVERINES: No. 1 Michigan (39-3, 7-1 Big Ten) is riding a six-game winning streak, having won 10 of its last 11 games overall. The Wolverines sit atop the Big Ten standings through four weeks of play led by a powerful offense that is hitting .332 as a team with 45 homers and a superb pitching staff that holds opposing teams to .192 hitting. All-American Jordan Taylor (20-3, 1.36 ERA) again leads the Wolverines in the circle having struck out 217 with a .179 BAA. Fellow starter Stephanie Speierman is 17-0 with a 1.65 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 102 innings of work. The quintet of Bree Evans (.418, .465 OBP), Dorian Shaw (.380, 11 HR, 36 RBI), Ashley Lane (.385, 14 HR, 51 RBI), Amanda Chidester (.390, 9 HR, 49 RBI) and Nicole Sappingfield (.383, 22 RBI) provide much of the team's offense.
AGAINST #1: This is the second time in 2011 that Penn State will face the No. 1 team in the country. On Mar. 10, the Nittany Lions fell 8-0 in five innings at Georgia in a spur-of-the-moment matchup. Previously, Penn State went 2-1 against top-ranked opponents, beating Michigan twice, 1-0 (2/18/06) and 2-1 (4/22/05) and falling to UCLA 5-2 in eight innings (2/21/04). Last year, Penn State was deadlocked 0-0 in the fourth inning against Washington, but the game was called due to rain. Michigan's visit to Penn State is the first instance where a top-ranked team has played in Happy Valley.
RPI UPDATE: Penn State sits in 46th place in the latest NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (Apr. 11), the primary tool used by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Last week the Nittany Lions were 35th with a 3-5 mark vs. Top 25 foes and a 4-10 record vs. Top 50 opponents. Penn State's best wins are against No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 12 Fresno State and No. 25 Tulsa. Big Ten opponents Michigan (7th), Indiana (30th), Northwestern (35th) and Illinois (42nd) are join PSU in the Top 50. Penn State still faces Top 100 battles with Purdue (51st), Longwood (60th) and Iowa (66th).
COMEBACK KIDS: Penn State has played well when in front with a 17-1 record when scoring first, while failing to overcome a deficit in a game until Mar. 6 against Jacksonville State. There, the Nittany Lions scored six straight runs to turn a 2-0 game into an eventual 6-4 victory. Since Mar. 26, seven of Penn State's last 10 wins have been in comeback fashion including the first four Big Ten victories.
DOUBLE SWEEPS: Penn State softball won two different types of games in a Wednesday (Apr. 13) night doubleheader sweep of Kent State at cool and damp Beard Field. The Nittany Lions took the first game 9-1 in six innings before a walk-off two-run homer by Kailyn Johnson won the nightcap, 4-2, in eight innings. Nine different Penn State players tallied at least a hit paced by Cassidy Bell who went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and an RBI in the opener. Jackie Hill picked up the victory in game one before Lisa Akamine notched the win in the finale. On Thursday (Apr. 14), Penn State took two more games from a MAC opponent when it swept Buffalo, 4-3 and 7-4. PSU had to come from behind in both contests as Akamine posted two more victories. Johnson went 5-for-7 with three RBI in the two games, while Danee Collett posted a 2-for-2, three-RBI fifth inning to lead PSU to victory in the nightcap. The Nittany Lions pounded out 13 hits in game two, tying a season high, the most since 13 base knocks in a win over then-No. 9 Oklahoma.
INDIANA RECAP: Penn State ran into the buzz saw that was IU's Morgan Melloh as the super senior hurler threw back-to-back shutouts (3-0, 1-0) in a weekend sweep (Apr. 9-10) of the Nittany Lions. PSU's Jackie Hill went step for step with the All-American transfer from Fresno State as Hill threw seven shutout innings on Saturday before a three-run eighth by Indiana won the game and six scoreless on Sunday before she met a similar fate. Melloh was named the Big Ten's Pitcher of the Week for her efforts at Beard Field, the first wins by an opponent at the new ballpark.
MSU MID-WEEK SPLIT: The Nittany Lion softball team was powered to a first-game victory over Michigan State, 8-6, by a Cassidy Bell grand slam before dropping the second game, 7-6, at Secchia Stadium on a damp and cold Apr. 6 afternoon. The second game was called due to darkness after five innings despite a furious five-run Penn State rally. PSU trailed 3-1 in the opening game before a Bell gave the Lions a lead they'd never relinquish. The nightcap was a wild game as the matchup pushed up against the fading light as PSU stared a 6-1 deficit in the face. Home runs by Kailyn Johnson and Lauren Yao lifted the Nittany Lions into a tie before a fifth-inning homer gave the Spartans the lead again and the game was called following the inning's conclusion. Both Bell and Johnson went 4-for-7 with 4 RBI and two runs scored, while Alyssa Sovereign went 4-for-6 with two RBI.
ILLINOIS RECAP: Undone by two errors in the first inning, Penn State found itself down 2-0 early to the Fighting Illini on Saturday, Apr. 2. The Nittany Lions responded quickly with a four-run fourth inning highlighted by an RBI single from Lisa Akamine to tie the game and a two-run home run by Kailyn Johnson to put Penn State up for good. Jackie Hill tossed a gem in the circle, going the distance while not allowing an earned run and scattering five hits and two walks to accompany the 10-strikeout performance, the most she's thrown in a Big Ten game. The victory not only improved PSU to 3-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 2000, but Hill became the all-time wins leader in Nittany Lion history. PSU also won its first game in Urbana since 2004. Sunday, Apr. 3 didn't go as well as Illinois broke open a 2-1 game in the second with a five-run barrage en route to a 12-2 win. The Nittany Lions were paced by Cassidy Bell and Johnson, neither of whom got out on Sunday, going a combined 3-for-3 with two walks and the team's lone RBI.
PITTSBURGH RECAP: Penn State ran into a hot Pittsburgh Panther squad Tuesday, Mar. 29, as Pitt inaugurated Vartabedian Field at the Petersen Sports Complex. The Panthers gained an early unearned run in the third inning before Cassidy Bell singled home Rachel Myers to knot the game in the fifth. Right-handed hurler Lisa Akamine couldn't hold the Panthers at bay as Pitt scored a walk-off run in the seventh inning, tagging Akamine with the loss despite a solid outing. Akamine struck out six, scattered six hits and walked three to fall to 6-6 on the year. In Game Two, Pittsburgh pitcher Karlyn Jones retired the first 16 Nittany Lions and carried a no-hitter through 5.2 innings, but Bell struck again bombing a 2-2 pitch for a 2-0 PSU lead. Jackie Hill fired her fifth shutout of the year with a career-high 12 strikeouts while giving up just four hits and walking none to capture career win No. 53, tying her with Missy Beseres for most in PSU history. Bell went 2-for-5 with 3 RBI for the Nittany Lions.
BIG TEN/INAUGURAL OPENER RECAP: Penn State played in the highest-scoring game of the year in the inaugural opener of Beard Field and Nittany Lion Park on Saturday, Mar. 26, as the Lions won 8-5 over Wisconsin. Penn State fought back from a three-run deficit keyed by an inside-the-park homer by Lisa Akamine in the fifth to tie it and a three-run sixth inning to clinch the victory. Akamine was also instrumental in keeping the Badgers off the board as she pitched 3.2 innings of scoreless and hitless ball. The sixth-inning rally was started by an Alyssa Sovereign double to lead off and a Kasie Hatfield single put PSU ahead 6-5 with one out. Cassidy Bell doubled home two more runs to cap her 2-for-4 day. The next day, the game belonged to Bell as she doubled in both her first two at-bats before being walked in the final two. Penn State held a 1-0 lead before a solo homer by Wisconsin in the fourth tied the game up before the Badgers scored a run in the top of the eighth for a momentary lead. Bell earned first on a five-pitch walk, eventually scoring from third on a passed ball to tie the game. The next batter was Sovereign and she laced a single to left to score Shannon Hutchinson to give Penn State the 3-2 walk-off win, the first for PSU in 2011. The two comeback victories were just the second and third of the year.
BIG TEN WEEKLY HONORS: Penn State softball student-athletes Lisa Akamine and Cassidy Bell were recognized by the Big Ten Conference for their efforts in the Nittany Lion sweep of Wisconsin (Mar. 26-27). Akamine was named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week, while Bell took home Co-Player of the Week honors with Liz Watkins of Iowa. Akamine allowed a lone hit in 8.2 innings of work while winning Saturday's inaugural game at Beard Field for the Nittany Lions and starting Sunday's victory against Wisconsin. Akamine proved instrumental in the win over the Badgers on Saturday, coming in relief to earn the win while pitching 3.2 innings of scoreless and hitless softball. The award was Akamine's second having won it similar honors on Mar. 29, 2010. Bell captured her first Big Ten weekly honor as Co-Player of the Week for her four-double effort against the Badgers this weekend. The sophomore centerfielder was only retired once all weekend by the Wisconsin pitching staff as she hit .667 with two RBI and game-tying run on Sunday in the eighth inning. Bell added two stolen bases and two runs scores as Wisconsin failed to get her out on Sunday during PSU's 3-2 victory. The last Nittany Lion to take home Player of the Week honors was Danielle Kinley on Feb. 13, 2007.
For the rest of the team's recaps this season, check the complete game notes
BUZZ CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Penn State had one representative, Jackie Hill, on the 10-person Buzz Classic All-Tournament Team. Hill went a perfect 2-0 during the weekend, allowing just two earned runs against Jacksonville State, while shutting out Massachusetts.
MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU: Senior co-captain Desi Giordano climbed up the record books on Feb. 18 with a long bomb to left field, her first of the season and 20th in her career. The homer moved Giordano into a tie for fourth all-time at Penn State with Jen Acunto (2005-08). Giordano is just three off from matching Jennifer Tripken (1999-2002) and five from Ashley Esparza (2005-08) from third and second, respectively. PSU's all-time home run leader is Shannon Salsburg who belted 34 from 1995-98.
BIG LIFE. BIG STATE. BIG TEN NETWORK: Four Penn State softball games will be televised live by the Big Ten Network in 2011. PSU's doubleheader will be the live TV debut of Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field when Penn State plays host to Michigan on Apr. 20. The doubleheader starts at 5:30 p.m. against the defending Big Ten champs. A third home contest will be aired May 1 against Purdue at Noon while a lone away game, vs. Iowa, will be shown May 8 at 2:00 p.m. All game times are Eastern. In addition to the live schedule, the Nittany Lions will be apart of several BigTenNetwork.com streaming productions, which are run through the Big Ten Network's Student U initiative. Many of those games are shown on the Network the following day in a tape delay fashion after their live stream. Penn State will have two such series on BTN.com as Kent State and Northwestern games at Penn State will be on there.
PSULIONSOFTBALL ON TWITTER: Nittany Lion softball is now on Twitter. Keep up to date with inside information and exclusive access @PSULionSoftball.
NEXT SERIES: Penn State returns to Beard Field on Easter Sunday when it hosts Longwood for the final non-conference series of the year. The doubleheader kicks off at 1:00 p.m. and an Easter Egg Hunt will take place prior to the games.