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Penn State to Clash with Maryland in Final Non-Conference Contest

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April 21, 2009

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The Terrapins enter the series 22-21 overall and 7-8 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Breanna Shaw leads the Terps in batting with a .325 average over nine doubles and three home runs for 18 RBI. Michelle Takeda has also proven the ability to drive in runs with four doubles and six home runs while Nadine Blackie boasts a slugging percentage of .533.

Kerry Hickey is the ace in the circle with an ERA of 2.14 and has struck out 140 batters in 130.2 innings of work. Sarah Dooley will likely see time as well on Wednesday with an ERA of 3.25 and two saves.

Dooley and Takeda earned ACC Player of the Week honors for the week of March 16 after their performaces at the Maryland Invitational.

The Terps picked up a notable win over then-No. 16 Nevada at the Cathedral City Classic on February 21. Jennifer Anderson hit a walk off home run to propel Maryland to an 8-7 victory.

This will be the 10th and 11th meeting between the Nittany Lions and the Terps. In a series that began in 1999, Penn State holds an 8-1 advantage

Penn State takes a break from Big Ten play 16-20 overall and 5-7 in conference play after splitting a weekend double header with Minnesota. Sam Hovanec leads with a .293 batting average while Lisa Akamine isn't far behind at .288. Desi Giordano has 11 extra base hits on the year, seven of which are home runs. Jackie Hill has continually dominated in the circle with an ERA of 0.87. She has struck out 115 in 121.0 innings of work for 6.65 Ks per seven innings.

Penn State has notable wins against then-No. 13 DePaul, 4-1, and then-No. 12 Arizona, 9-6. The win over the Blue Demons came at the NFCA Leadoff Classic as the Nittany Lions rallied in the sixth to plate four and never looked back. Hill threw a one-hitter in the victory.

More recently, the Lions upended the Wildcats of Arizona at the Judi Garman Classic with an explosive first inning as they drove in four runs with the help of a three run blast by Hovanec. Arizona threatened as the Wildcats brought the score to 4-5 in the fifth, but Penn State mimicked the success of the first inning in the sixth with four more runs as Giordano added a three-run shot of her own.

Penn State resumed Big Ten play with a double header at Minnesota Saturday afternoon and split the series. The Nittany Lions took game one, 1-0, and fell in the night cap, 1-0, in eight innings. Penn State is now 16-20 overall and 5-7 in the Big Ten Conference while Minnesota is 22-25 overall and 5-7 in conference play. Junior pitcher Jackie Hill (San Jose, Calif.) fanned 15 Gophers on the day while senior first baseman Danielle Kinley (Carlsbad, Calif.) hit a solo home run in the first game to propel the Lions to victory.

The first game was a pitcher's duel between two of the top hurlers in the Big Ten Conference with Briana Hassett of Minnesota and Hill of Penn State. Minimal hits were offered and multiple batters were struck out as the game remained scoreless until the top of the sixth.

Kinley led off the sixth with a towering home run over center field, her second of the season and 11th of her career, for the first and only score of the game.

In the 1-0 victory, Penn State scored one run off two hits and left three on base while Minnesota had four hits and left three runners on base. Hill struck out seven as three went down looking to take the win becoming 11-6 in the circle while collecting her sixth shutout of the season.

In the night cap the Lions had to tame a much more determined Gopher squad. In the bottom of the third with two outs, Colleen Conway singled with a bunt and moved around to third on a single to right field by Sammie Howard. Malisa Barnes the walked to load the bases, but Kinley made a catch in foul territory to retire the inning.

The next four innings went by smoothly as neither team had more than four plate appearances before they were retired to leave the game scoreless. With one on and two outs in the bottom of the seventh Howard got a good piece of the pitch, but senior center fielder Sam Hovanec (Pittsburgh, Pa.) made the catch sending the game to extra innings.

Senior third baseman Shana Madura (Slate Hill, N.Y.) walked to lead off the eighth and advanced to second on a passed ball. Madura then moved around to third as Kinley grounded out to second base. Junior left fielder Ashley Griffith (Mt. Laurel, N.J.) then reached on a fielder's choice as Madura was held at third. With runners on the corners Griffith easily stole second, but the inning ended on a pop fly and a strike out.

Penn State handled the next two outs fairly easily with a ground out to short and a line drive to Hill. Heidi Carls then singled to right center and Chonquita Jones came in to pinch run. Jones narrowly beat the throw as she stole second. Katie Dalen then hit a shot to left field that landed just shy of Griffith as Jones once again beat the throw at home while Minnesota took the game 1-0.

The opening round of the doubleheader started with a two-strikeout top of the first and a two-run homerun in the bottom of the first by Ashley Esparza (San Pedro, Calif.). Esparza would continue her dominating performance en route to a complete game two-hitter and a 2-for-2 performance at the plate. She struck out six opposing batters and assisted in eight other putouts in the game.

Six other Nittany Lions registered hits in the contest including Danielle Kinley (Carlsbad, Calif.), Ashley Griffith (Mt. Laurel, N.J.), Kayce Zielinski (Arlington, Texas), Desi Giordano (West Caldwell, N.J.), Jackie Hill (San Jose, Calif.) and Hollee Haines (Riverside, Calif.). Zielinski, Giordano, Hill and Sam Hovanec (Pittsburgh, Pa.) all added an RBI in the five-run fifth inning.

The nightcap was a different story as the Nittany Lions relied on a strong pitching performance by Hill to keep them in the game for the seventh inning heroics. Hill went the distance while striking out four and allowing just one walk.

Down 2-0 entering the seventh with the seventh, eighth and ninth batters scheduled to hit the outlook for the Nittany Lions looked bleak. Hill would open things up with a single through the right side. She would score on the very next pitch as Haines roped a triple down the left field line for the RBI. This hit would wrap up a 3-for-3 performance in the game for Haines.

Two batters later down to their final out and the tying run on third the Nittany Lions looked to their leading hitter, Kinley. Kinley would waste no time as she ripped the first pitch thrown to her over the right field fence cementing PSU's 3-2 win.

Every week, Penn State gets better and better. As the Lions improve, two have worked their way into the Top Ten of the nation in two categories. Junior pitcher Jackie Hill (San Jose, Calif.) is currently fifth in the country for earned run average at 0.87 and has been in the top ten for the past three weeks. In addition, junior left fielder Ashley Griffith (Mt. Laurel, N.J.) is tenth in the country for sacrifice hits per game at 0.36. At 13 on the season, she is well on her way to entering the season record mark in the Penn State record book.

In addition, the Nittany Lion infield has turned 12 double plays this season. At 0.33 per game, Penn State is No. 53 in that category.

For the past two years, new career doubles records have been added to the record book, and with three in the past two games, senior first baseman Danielle Kinley (Carlsbad, Calif.) is on track to ink her name to the top of the list. When the season began, she only needed nine to tie the record and with eight in the books, the record could be broken and surpassed sooner than expected.

Kinley has continually turned heads as she seldom only hits one double. In opening weekend at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., she hit two. She followed that with two against Vermont at the Stanford Louisville Sluger Classic and more recently hit three over a two game series with Wisconsin. She is currently tied with former teammate Jen Acunto for the second spot at 43 while one more will tie her with another former teammate, Ashley Esparza, who currently holds the record at 44.

The season may be winding down, but the Nittany Lions are finally getting their turn in two featured contests on the Big Ten Network.

The Purdue series this weekend will be aired live as the Lions are expecting a big home crowd with Blue and White festivities beginning Friday night. The final home contest of the year will also be televised as Penn State takes on Indiana May 2 and 3 and celebrates the careers of its five seniors.

April 25 vs. Purdue - 1:05 p.m.
April 26 vs. Purdue - 12:05 p.m.
May 2 vs. Indiana - 4:05 p.m.
May 3 vs. Indiana - 11:05 a.m. (tape delay)




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