Penn State Softball Hosts No. 2 Michigan Friday through Sunday


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State softball team gets back to Big Ten Conference action this weekend as it hosts No. 2 University of Michigan in a three-game series Friday, Apr. 29 through Sunday, May 1.

(Photo courtesy of Penn State Athletics)

The Wolverines come to Happy Valley Friday, Apr 29 for a 6 p.m. game at Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field. Game two of the series will be at 3 p.m. Saturday, Apr. 30 and the Nittany Lions open the month of May Sunday with a 1 p.m. game against the Wolverines.

MEETING OF THE TOP THREE TEAMS IN CONFERENCE ACTION

The weekend Big Ten Conference series not only welcomes the No. 2 team in the nation to Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field but will also feature a show down between the No. 1 B1G team and the No. 3 B1G team. The Wolverines currently lead the Big Ten Conference with a 15-2 overall record in league action, falling to Northwestern and Nebraska, while Penn State ranks third in the Big Ten Conference with a 13-4 record, falling to Ohio State,
Indiana and Iowa.

SERIES HISTORY WITH THE WOLVERINES

The University of Michigan dominated the series with the Nittany Lions, 60-7. Michigan has won the last 21 meetings between the two teams with Penn State’s last victory coming in the 2007 season when it beat the then-No. 9 Wolverines 5-2 at the Judi Garman Classic. Furthermore, PSU defeated Michigan in 2005, 2-1, when the Wolverines went on to win the World Series.

A BRIEF LOOK AT MICHIGAN

The Wolverines come into the weekend series as the No. 2 team in the nation and the No. 1 team in the Big Ten Conference with 38-4 overall record and a 15-2 Big Ten record. Michigan has won its last 11 contests, most recently earning a 5-2 victory over Central Michigan.

Senior Sierra Romero paces the powerful Michigan that boasts three players batting over .400 with two weekends remaining in the regular season. Romero is batting .478 on the season with 55 hits, which includes nine doubles, one triple and 13 home runs. The senior second baseman has also driven in 60 RBI and scored 60 times for the Maize and Blue. Also toting hot bats for the Wolverines are Tera Blanco and Sierra Lawrence, who are hitting .421 and .412, respectively. Michigan does not have a weak spot in its batting order as all but one starter is hitting .300-or-better and has 20-or-more hits in the 2016 campaign.

Megan Betsa and Sara Driesenga anchor the defense for Michigan, splitting time in the circle. Betsa, the reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, has thrown 121.1 innings and struck out 200 batters with a 2.13 ERA in her junior season, giving up just 37 earned runs. Also seeing significant time in the circle is Driesenga, who had a 2.42 ERA wtih 38 earned runs and 82 strikeouts in 110.0 innings of work.

THEN AND NOW

The 2016 Penn State softball team has made a vast improvement from the 2015 campaign. This time last season, the Nittany Lions carried a 24-24 overall record and a 6-11 record in Big Ten Conference action. This season, the Blue and White is just one win shy of matching its 2015 win total with a 28-18 overall record and a 13-4 Big Ten Conference record. The Nittany Lions have six regular season games to secure its first 30-win season since the 2011 campaign when they team went 31-24-1 to earn a berth into the NCAA postseason. Furthermore, Penn State needs just two more wins to tie the most Big Ten Conference victories in Nittany Lion history and has six chances to do so. The 1999 Penn State team went 15-9 overall in conference play, while the current Nittany Lions ranks second all-time with 13 conference wins in 2016.

JONES BREAKS CAREER RBI RECORD AT PENN STATE

Senior Macy Jones needed 22 RBI in her senior season to take the Penn State softball career RBI record. The starting left fielder easily broke the record, driving in 39 so far this season for a career total of 135 RBI with six regular season games to play in her final season donning the Blue and White. Furthermore, Jones ranks in the top-15 of eight single season batting categories and nine career records for the Nittany Lions.

FEELING COMFORTABLE AT BEARD FIELD

Closing out the season at Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field will be an advantage for Penn State, not only because it will not have to travel, but because the Nittany Lions carry a 12-3 overall record inside their home facility in the 2016 season. The Blue and White has won 11-straight contests at Beard Field in 2016 season and has not lost a game since Mar. 23 when it fell in the front end of a doubleheader to the Colonials of Robert Morris. After playing its first 20 games on the road, Penn State returned to Happy Valley and put up a 2-3 record in its first week home, but worked its way back to a 12-3 overall record in front of its fans.

TAKING TWO FROM SAINT FRANCIS

Penn State softball team swept its fifth series of the 2016 season with two wins over in-state non-conference foe Saint Francis at Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field Wednesday, Apr. 27. The Nittany Lions outhit the Red Flash 15-8 in the two games with a 6-0 shutout victory in game one and a 4-2 win in game two. The 6-0 shutout marks the third of the season for the Blue and White as it used nine hits and one Saint Francis error to secure its game one victory.Senior Lexi Kniefpaced Penn State with two multi-hit games recording two hits in each game, while driving in one RBI and scoring twice. Sophomore Alyssa VanDerveer notched two hits and two RBI on the day and senior Macy Jones scored four runs with two hits and two RBI. Finally, senior Erin Pond plated two runs for the Blue and White in game one. Junior Marlaina Laubachand freshman Madison Seifert both tossed complete games and earned their 10th and 11th wins of the 2016 season. Laubach went seven scoreless innings, giving up just five hits and striking out three in the first inning. Seifert had a no-hitter going until the fourth inning before giving up just three hits to the powerful Red Flash offense with three strikeouts.

ON DECK

Penn State concludes its 2016 regular season Friday, May 6 – Sunday, May 8 when the Fighting Illini of Illinois come to Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field for a three-game series. Game one is slated for 6 p.m. Friday, May 6 while Penn State will honor its seven seniors Saturday, May 7 at its 3 p.m. game. The Nittany Lions conclude their 2016 regular season Sunday, May 8 at 1 p.m.


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