Lions and Boilers Clash in Crucial Home Series
April 29, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State softball team hosts an important series when Purdue visits Beard Field for a two-game set beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. The series concludes Sunday at Noon with a live broadcast on Big Ten Network. It's a Code Blue weekend at the ballpark with fans receiving free blue t-shirts and Sunday is Kids Club Day.
Games #45-46 Apr. 30-May 1 Nittany Lion Softball Park University Park, Pa.
TICKET & MEDIA CREDENTIAL INFORMATION
More information: 2011 Nittany Lion Softball Park Ticket Information
SCOUTING THE BOILERMAKERS: Purdue (28-13-11, 6-4 Big Ten) enters this weekend after a rainout Wednesday when hosting Northwestern. Before the washout, Purdue split a pair of 3-2 games following a sweep at Ohio State (7-0, 10-8). Senior pitcher Suzie Rzegocki (24-12) again carries the team in the circle pitching 207.2 of the team's 269.1 innings this season. Rzegocki boasts a 2.43 ERA with 159 strikeouts and a .242 batting average against. The Boilers will bring their trademark speedy and aggressive offensive play with 95 swiped bags in 118 attempts along with 13 triples. Leading the offensive charge is freshman Andie Varsho (.464) who has a team-high 11 doubles, five triples, 29 RBI and 32 stolen bases. Molly Garst also has 32 stolen bases with a .393 average, nine doubles, six homers for 25 RBI on a team that collectively hits .333.
MICHIGAN RECAP: The Nittany Lion softball team gave a valiant effort against No. 1 Michigan, but dropped a pair of 5-4 games on Wednesday night at Beard Field. Penn State saw a slim 3-2 lead fade away in the opener and a seventh-inning rally cut short by a poor call at first base in the nightcap. Kailyn Johnson led the Nittany Lions with two homers and six runs batted in. Her homer in the first game was a go-ahead three-run shot, while the two-run homer in the second game should've been for three runs and tying the game. Cassidy Bell was incorrectly ruled out at first base on an earlier play, thwarting PSU's chances for an extra-inning game. In all, PSU belted 17 hits against the Wolverines while hitting .298 in the twinbill. Lauren Yao went 3-for-6 in the two games to run her hitting streak to a career-high eight games. Lisa Akamine and Alyssa Sovereign each chipped in with a pair of hits in the finale.
MINNESOTA RECAP: The Nittany Lion softball team used two first-inning runs and a Jackie Hill shutout to defeat Minnesota, 2-0, on Sunday at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. Hill scattered eight Gopher hits for her sixth shutout of the season, while Cassidy Bell went 2-for-3. Lauren Yao tallied the game's only RBI, an infield single, to give PSU an insurance run. The win followed up a tough 1-0 loss on Saturday in which the travel-weary Nittany Lions out-hit the Gophers, 5-4, but an RBI double in the third gave Minnesota the win. Penn State played the game on little sleep after a nearly 17-hour travel day due to weather and other issues.
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.
RPI UPDATE: Penn State sits in 48th place in the latest NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (Apr. 17), the primary tool used by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Last week the Nittany Lions were 46th. Penn State's best wins are against No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 26 Fresno State and No. 28 Tulsa. Big Ten opponents Michigan (9th), Indiana (30th), Illinois (43rd) and Northwestern (45th) join PSU in the Top 50. Penn State still faces Top 100 battles with Purdue (53rd), and Iowa (57th), Longwood (69th).
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.
All game recaps can be found in the game notes.
QUEEN OF THE HILL: The week of Mar. 31-Apr. 3 was historic for Jackie Hill and Penn State softball as the redshirt-senior set the new school record for career victories in dazzling performances against Pittsburgh and Illinois. Hill struck out a career-high 12 at Pitt in a 2-0 shutout victory to tie Missy Beseres (2002-06) at win No. 53, before downing 10 Illini in a 4-2 victory for win No. 54. Against Illinois she upped her career strikeout total to 600, moving her into second all-time behind Beseres (745) at Penn State. Currently, Hill sits at 57 victories and 637 strikeouts.
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.
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.
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 hits the road for only the second time since Apr. 6 when it faces Iowa May 7-8 to kick off a four-game road trip. Saturday's game against the Hawkeyes is at 7 p.m. ET and Sunday's game is at 2 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network.