Big 10 Softball Tournament This Weekend in State College; Penn State’s First Game Friday


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – For the first time in program history, the Penn State softball team will host the 2016 Big Ten Softball Tournament at Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field Thursday, May 12 through Saturday, May 14. The Nittany Lions come in at No. 4 after the conclusion of regular season play to earn a bye in the first round of the event. The Blue and White will play the winner of No. 5 Nebraska/No. 12 Purdue Friday, May 13 at 5:30 p.m. in the quarterfinal contest.

(Photo courtesy of Penn State Athletics)

PARKING ADVISORY FOR BIG TEN SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT

Due to construction in the residence hall area near Nittany Lion Softball Park, all spectator parking will be located in the East Parking Deck on Bigler Road. Please follow the yard signs that will be placed along the route marked with red arrows to walk back to Beard Field at Nittany Lion Softball Park. To avoid the parking fee to exit the East Parking Deck, please show your softball game ticket to the attendant upon exiting. Staff and Season Ticket Holders with the Pink Parking Permit can park in any of the Orange-B parking lots surrounding Nittany Lion Softball Park. Due to anticipated heavy traffic on Park Avenue, all staff and fans are encouraged to access the Ball Park via Park Avenue coming from the West from Atherton Street.

NITTANY LION HISTORY AT THE BIG TEN TOURNAMENT

Penn State earned its highest seeding in the tournament since the 2000 season when the Nittany Lions came in as the No. 3 seed. This season, the Blue and White received a bye in the first round and will be the No. 4 seed in the tournament. Penn State has only been in the top four seeds three times in program history, including the 2016 season. The last time the Nittany Lions were earned a top four seed was in both 1999 and 2000 when the Blue and White were the No. 3 seed.

Penn State has made the tournament the past four seasons and is 2-3 overall since 2013. Furthermore, the Nittany Lions are 11-15 all-time in tournament action and head coach Amanda Lehotak is 1-2 in the B1G Tournament, picking up a win in the 2015 campaign. Last season, Penn State defeated No. 8 Maryland before falling to eventual champion Michigan in the quarterfinals. The Nittany Lions have made one appearacne in the finals in the 2000 season when the tournament was two-game elimation, going 3-2 and falling to Michigan in the finals.

THREE NITTANY LIONS EARN BIG TEN HONORS

Senior outfielders Macy Jones and Lexi Knief as well as sophomore Alyssa VanDerveer were named First Team All-Big Ten by the conference coaches Wednesday, May 11. The honor marks the first for all three student-athletes, while both Jones and Knief have both earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors in their four-year careers at Penn State.

The Nittany Lions tallied their first team all-conference honorees since the 2013 campaign when Cassidy Bell earned the honor. Furthermore, it is only the second time in program history that Penn State has had three honorees on the first team list with the first being in the 2011 campaign.

Additionally, senior Shannon Good earned the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award for Penn State. Good appeared in 23 games with 10 starts as the designated hitter for the Nittany Lions, driving a solo home run in a pinch hit situation against Rutgers and bringing in the winning runs against Maryland in the series sweep at Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field.

SCOUTING No. 5 NEBRASKA

Nebraska enters the tournament as the No. 5 seed after posting a 32-18 overall record and a 13-9 record in conference play. The Cornhuskers have had a successful 2016 campaign, downing No. 2 Michigan one time in the three-game series. As a team, Nebraska is hitting .301 on the season with six players hitting .300-or-better.

Kiki Stokes paces the Cornhusker offense with 67 hits, which ranks second in the Big Ten, 11 doubles, three triples and six home runs to hold a .414 batting average in 49 games. MJ Knighten has proved to have a powerful bat this season for Nebraska driving in 59 RBI, which ranks second in the conference. Knighten has driven in her 59 RBI on 61 hits which includes a conference-best 21 home runs in 2016.

In the circle, Cassie McClure has a team-best 3.25 ERA with 10 complete games in 37 appearance and 27 starts. The right-handed pitcher has tossed 146.1 innings and is 16-9 overall on the season, while Kaylan Jablonski has shared the pitching load, hurling 102.2 innings for the Cornhuskers.

GLANCING AT No. 12 PURDUE

The Boilermakers enter the tournament with a 27-27 overall record and a 8-15 record in conference play. As a team, Purdue is hitting just .241 and has two players hitting .300 or better this season.

Kristen Hoppman has secured a team best 55 hitss with eigtht double, five triples and four home runs. The speedy base runners has stolen 28 bases on 34 attempts and carries a team best .311 batting average. Also hitting .300 or better is Lauren Stewart, who has a .303 batting average with 47 hits and 34 runs scored. Finally, Katie Harrison has driven in a team-best 25 RBI for Purdue.

Lilly Fecho is the ace of the Purdue pitching staff, throwing 214.1 innings with 216 strikeouts, a 1.89 ERA and an 18-13 overall record. Fecho has hurled 24 complete games in 38 appearances and has given up just 58 earned runs out of 86 total runs that have scored.

PENN STATE TURNS IN RECORD REGULAR SEASON

The Nittany Lions finished their 2016 regular season with a 29-23 overall record and 14-9 in the Big Ten Conference, breaking numerous team and individual records. Penn State was never ranked lower than fourth in the Big Ten once conference play started in March and was the only team to start conference play 6-0, sweeping its first two conference opponents. The Blue and White got off to its best start in conference action in the history of the program with an 11-3 record to being the season and finishing top four in the B1G for just the fourth time in program history with a fourth-place finish in 2011 and a third-place finish in both 1999 and 2000. Furthermore, Penn State tied its second-highest seeding in the Big Ten Tournament coming in as the No. 4 seed in 2016. Prior to 2016, Penn State earned the three seed in both 1999 and 2000.

For just the eighth time in program history the Nittany Lions secured at least 10 wins in Big Ten Conference play and notched those wins in fewer games than any other Blue and White squad. As a team, Penn State had 23 games with 10-or-more hits and scored 10-or-more runs on nine occasions. The Nittany Lions ranked third in in the conference with a .317 batting average and a .969 fielding percentage.

Moreover, Penn State broke six season records including: batting average (.317), hits (457), doubles (73), RBI (252), runs scored (280) and total bases (648).


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