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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; September 29, 2006- Penn State??s softball team continues action Friday vs. Bucknell at 5 p.m. after finishing its fall tournament last weekend with a 5-0 record. The Lions are in the middle of their fall training schedule after welcoming four freshmen and a new assistant coach, Jocelyn Forest, to the fold.
The Lions began the weekend with s 4-3 extra inning win over 2006 Division II National Champion Lock Haven before taking the Lady Eagles again in game two, 4-2. In the first contest, returning junior utility player Ashley Esparza (San Pedro, Calif.) hit the game-winning run in the tiebreaker with Lock Haven en route to batting a team-leading .462 for the weekend. Sophomore utility player Sam Hovanec (Pittsburgh, Pa.) joined Esparza at the top of the offense, also batting .462 over the five-game stretch.
Both 2005 third team All-American Esparza and 2006 first team All-Big Ten selection Jenn Reynolds (Clovis, Calif.) pitched well as the returners on the staff. Esparza went on to pitch a shutout vs. Maryland on Saturday, one of two on the weekend for the Nittany Lion pitching staff. Freshman Jackie Hill (San Jose, Calif.) shut out visiting St. Francis with 10 strikeouts and allowed only two hits in an excellent performance.
Another freshman Kimi Wong (Goleta, Calif.) went 2-for-4 on the weekend in mostly pinch-hitting opportunities, even managing a hit in her first plate appearance. Freshman outfielder Ashley Griffith (Mt. Laurel, N.J.) batted .333 with three runs and three stolen bases in her debut with the Lions.
Local product and senior Kelsey Francisco (State College, Pa.) went a perfect 2-for-2 in pinch-hit opportunities on the weekend. Francisco was up with runners on second and third base in the St. Francis game and smacked the game-winning RBI over the shortstop??s head to score senior Jen Williams (Stillwater, Okla.) from third for the deciding run. Classmate Meghan Wolfer (Northampton, Pa.) batted .444 on the weekend, scoring one run.
After batting .300 on the weekend, junior shortstop Jen Acunto (Hollywood, Fla.) had an great weekend in the field, as did sophomore Shana Madura (Slate Hill, N.Y.) third base. Hovanec added to her great offensive output by putting in some quality time behind the plate as well as at third base.
Sept. 22 vs. Lock Haven (DH): W, 4-3 (8); W, 4-2
Sept. 23 vs. Maryland: W, 3-0
Sept. 23 vs. St. John??s: W, 3-1
Sept. 24 vs. St. Francis: W, 1-0