Penn State Meets Illinois in Big Ten Tournament First Round on Thursday
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Penn State Meets Illinois in Big Ten Tournament First Round
Penn State Earns No. 7 Seed in Big Ten Tournament, Meets No. 2 Seed Illinois in Quarterfinals Thursday, May 13, at 5 p.m....The Penn State softball team (25-32, 8-12 Big Ten) will be making its fifth appearance overall in the Big Ten Tournament after a one-year hiatus. The Lions have a 9-8 (.529) overall record in the tournament and earned the No. 7 seed this season. Penn State will meet No. 2 seed Illinois (39-18-1, 14-6 Big Ten) on Thursday, May 13, at 5 p.m. in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Wolverines earned the right to host the Big Ten Tournament when they won the Big Ten regular season title with a 17-3 conference record and will play the second game of the day at 7:30 p.m at Alumni Field. Should the Lions advance, they will meet the winner of the No. 3 Iowa vs. No. 6 Ohio State game at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 14. The tournament will be single elimination format for the first time this season.
Penn State's game vs. Illinois and the remainder of PSU's tournament action, will be broadcast live on WMAJ-AM ESPN Radio 1450, and will also be available through live audio and live stats on Penn State's Official Website, www.gopsusports.com. The Big Ten championship game will be shown live on CSTV on Saturday, May 15, at 2:30 p.m.
The Illinois Series... The newest Big Ten series, Penn State has a 7-4 lead on Illinois in the series that dates back to 2001. The Nittany Lions split with the Illini this season in Champaign, dropping the first game 2-0 before winning the second by the same score on senior Barbie Pierce's (Citrus Heights, Calif.) first career homerun.
Beseres CLosing in on Single-Season Record ... With 190 strikeouts this season, redshirt-junior Missy Beseres (Golden Valley, Minn.) is swiftly approaching Penn State's single-season strikeout mark. Hurler Jaci Kalp holds the current record, 194, which was set in 2000. Beseres is also climbing the single-season charts in several other categories, including innings pitched (currently 7th- 166.0), appearances (currently 7th- 32), and games started (currently 9th- 24).
Hanson Closes In on Record... Senior pitcher Marisa Hanson (Victoria, Texas) is just one win away from tying the Penn State career record for victories. The record, 49, is currently held by Jaci Kalp (1997-2000). Hanson started the season seven wins away, and after three over spring break, another one at Virginia, one vs. St. Francis and Sunday's win vs. Ohio State, she sits at 48 career wins, one-away from Kalp's mark.
IN THE COACH'S BOX... Now in her eighth season with the Nittany Lions, head coach Robin Petrini won her 200th game last season, and had a 216-178-1 (.548) career record to begin 2004. She has led the Lions to four NCAA tournaments and five Big Ten Tournament berths during her tenure. She is now 241-210-1 (.534). A complete bio for Petrini can be found on page 8-9 of this packet.
Williams Looks To Continue Hit-Streak... Freshman Jen Williams (Stillwater, Okla.) is currently on a seven-game hit-streak, dating back to the April 28 win at Syracuse in game two of the doubleheader. Williams' hit-streak is the second-longest for Lion designated player this season. She and classmate Meghan Wolfer (Northampton, Pa.) both logged eight-game hit-streaks earlier in the season.
Lions Hand Out Annual Awards... The Penn State softball team (25-32, 8-12 Big Ten) held its annual award banquet over the weekend, naming five award winners for the 2004 season. Junior Leigh Murray (Fairfax Station, Va.) was voted Most Valuable Player by her teammates for the 2004 season, while senior Shana Riggleman (Seaford, Del.) earned the Blue-White Award, which is presented to the player who exemplifies commitment, desire and unity toward the Penn State softball program.
Murray has been one of the team's top batters most of this season, and is currently hitting .302. The junior outfielder is one of only two players to start every game this season for the Lions. Her 21 RBIs leads the teams, as does her slugging percentage (.450) and homeruns (6).
Riggleman has made a solid comeback from an ACL injury last fall to compile a 9-5 record in 15 starts thus far. Her career victory mark of 26 in just three years is approaching the top 10 all-time in school history. She has a team-leading 1.76 ERA and has also tacked on three saves this season.
Garnering Most Offensive Player honors was freshman Jen Williams, who leads the team in batting average this season. Penn State's lead-off hitter, Williams is batting .357 after an outstanding 7-for-8 weekend vs. Ohio State. She leads Penn State in the hits department with 65-of-182 batting for the season. She is also in the top 20 in the country and leads the Big Ten in stolen bases, successfully reaching base on 34-of-38 attempts. Williams' stolen base total for this season is tied for third-best ever in school history.
Junior Scarlett Neal (Huntington Beach, Calif.) was named Most Defensive Player after putting in a solid effort in the Nittany Lion outfield all season. Neal has a .920 fielding percentage and accounted for 45 putouts for the Lions. She started 52 of Penn State's 57 games in the outfield, and made appearances in all but one game.
Freshman Kari Lucas (State College, Pa.) earned most improved honors after working her way into the starting line-up at second base for 22 of the past 25 games. Lucas is batting .191, sixth best on the team, and has one homerun and two RBIs. She also is 4-of-4 on stolen bases and has a .956 fielding percentage, third highest of any starter.
Talkin' Tough: Lions Tangle with Seven Top 10 Teams This Season... Head coach Robin Petrini has once again slated the Nittany Lions for a challenging path to the NCAA tournament. To be the best you have to play the best, and the Lions are certainly facing the nation's elite from the first week of the season to the finish.
Penn State opened action with preseason No. 2 and 2003 national semi-finalist Arizona and faced 2003 NCAA champ and reigning No. 1 UCLA the very next day. All told, Penn State will face 11 of the 25 teams ranked in the May 5 USA Today/NFCA Division 1 Top 25 and another receiving votes.
In addition to then-No. 1 UCLA and then-No. 2 Arizona on opening weekend, the Lions also took on then-No. 7 Georgia and then-No. 15 Stanford at the Palm Springs Classic. Week two got no easier for Penn State, as they faced host and then-No. 23 Texas A&M at the Aggie Invitational II in College Station as well as then-No. 17 Oregon. The onslaught of ranked teams continued in Tallahassee over spring break, with PSU meeting then-No. 12 Louisiana-Lafayette and then-No. 6 Florida State in the Seminole Challenge followed by a match-up with No. 19 Nebraska in the Florida State Invitational just days later.
The Big Ten slate is no easier on the Lions, with another top 10 foe in No. 8 Michigan.
And Now Starting For Penn State... With only three starters returning from last year's NCAA squad, a lot of faces in the Lions' starting line-up could be considered new. Only a few, however, are actually freshmen. All eight newcomers have seen time, including starting outfielder Meghan Wolfer, and designated players Jen Williams and Natasha Chouinard (Santee, Calif.). Freshman utility player Kari Lucas (Centre Hall, Pa.) has become a regular in the infield, accumulating 27 starts, including 22 of the last 25 games at second base, and several pinch-running appearances this season, while classmates Kelsey Francisco (State College, Pa.), and Brittany Corl (Penns Valley, Pa.), both local products, have also appeared for the Lions in pinch-running situations. A junior-transfer from Lebanon Valley College, Kelly McManus (Langhorne, Pa.) has earned a start at third base and also plays a role as a pinch-runner. Another newcomer, junior-transfer Becky Rogers (Coatesville, Pa.) from the University of Delaware has pitched 2.2 innings in relief.
Freshman Duo, Murray Lead Team in Hits Department... Two freshman are currently leading the Nittany Lions in batting average with freshman Jen Williams in the top slot this week with a .357 average (65-of-182). Classmate Meghan Wolfer is currently batting .318 (54-for-170) and is second for the Lions. Junior outfielder Leigh Murray is tallying a .302 average on 51-for-169 hitting. Murray leads the team in slugging percentage (.450), RBIs (21), and homeruns (6).
Stealing Home... Freshman Jen Williams leads not only the team, but also the conference in stolen bases thus far. Penn State's lead-off hitter, Williams has 34 steals in 38 attempts, and was ranked 14th in the nation last week. Williams' stolen base total for this season is tied for the third-best mark ever in school history. Career-record holder Gina Bianchini holds the mark with 42 stolen bases in 2000.
Beseres Sets Lion Mark for Strikeouts in a Game... In Penn State's 3-2 win over Wisconsin on April 3, redshirt-junior Missy Beseres threw a team-record 14 strikeouts before grabbing the victory and setting Penn State's record for strikeouts in a game. The previous record, 13, was held by Jaci Kalp and Tanis Ambelang.
Going, Going, Gone!... Both of Penn State's first two scoring sequences came off homeruns to begin the season. First, Penn State's Katie Stauffer (Manassas, Va.) logged the only Lion RBIs at the Palm Springs Classic, smacking a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth to draw the Lions within one run of No. 1 UCLA. The Bruins went on to win 5-2. The homerun was only Stauffer's second of her career. Then, teammate Leigh Murray slammed the Lions' second homerun of the season, scoring runs No. 3 and No. 4 on the year, giving Penn State its first four runs scored all off two-run bombs.
Beseres Named Co-Big Ten Pitcher of the Week... Penn State's Missy Beseres was named the co-Big Ten pitcher of the week for her outstanding performance on the homestretch of Penn State spring break trip to Tallahassee, Fla. Beseres joined Michigan Wolverines Tiffany Haas (player of the week) and Jennie Ritter (co-pitcher of the week) as the conference's honorees this week. The conference accolade is the first of her career.
Beseres notched an ERA of just 0.64 in six appearances and 33 complete innings. She tallied at least nine strikeouts in four of her outings, racking up a career-high 12 strikeouts in Penn State's shutout versus North Carolina and sitting down 11 batters in the win over Troy State. Beseres went 3-2 on the week with one save. She tallied 49 total strikeouts for an average of 8.2 per game and 1.5 per inning. The junior gave up just 18 hits over her 33 total innings on the mound.
Beseres started the week with a three-hit shutout win versus Connecticut on March 8, notched her second shutout win of the week at Troy State on March 10, and followed it up with her third shutout of the week versus North Carolina and a one-inning save appearance later that same day in the Florida State Invitational on March 13.
Two Lions All-Tournament... Both Meghan Wolfer and Leigh Murray were named to the Seminole Challenge all-tournament team. Both batted over .400 for the weekend, where the Lions came in third. Wolfer went 5-for-12 (.417) while Murray hit 6-for-15 (.400) and drove four Penn State runners home.
Oh Captain, My Captain... The coaching staff has selected three Lions to serve as team captains this season, C Kate Gentile (Endicott, N.Y.), 2B Barbie Pierce (Citrus Heights, Calif.), and P Marisa Hanson (Victoria, Texas). All three are seniors.
There's No Place Like Home, There's No Place Like Home... Penn State began the 2004 season with a 28-game road stint on the sunny side of the street. After opening in Palm Springs, Calif., working their way across the United States to Texas, and then over to Florida to play 13 dates over spring break, the Lions took the final leg of their away stint at the Hoo's Who Tournament at Virginia last weekend. With a 12-19 record, Penn State finally hit Nittany Lion Field to open its home schedule the weekend of April 2-4 vs. Wisconsin and Minnesota. The weekend was also the Big Ten opener for the Lions.
Coming Up... The NCAA tournament begins on May 20-23 with regional action.
WMAJ Radio Schedule... WMAJ-AM ESPN Radio 1450 will broadcast several of the Lions games this season, including the 2004 Big Ten Tournament. The following is the schedule of live broadcasts that remain:
2004 WMAJ 1450 AM Softball Broadcasts