Penn State Softball Hosts St. Francis (Pa.) Wednesday

PennStatesoftballUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State softball team returns to Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field for a mid-week non-conference contest against the Red Flash of Saint Francis Wednesday, Apr. 27. The doubleheader is slated to start at 6 p.m. and will be the final regular season non-conference games of the season for the Blue and White.


The Nittany Lions carry a 27-game advantage over Saint Francis with a 31-4 all-time series record against the Red Flash. However, in the past four meetings, the two teams have split with each team taking one win apiece in both 2014 and 2015. Last season, Penn State fell 5-4 in game one before surging back to a 14-2 five-inning victory in game two against the Red Flash. It was the same story in the 2014 campaign with the Nittany Lions dropping game one, 4-2, before securing a 9-1 six-inning victory in game two against Saint Francis. Prior to the 2008 season, the Blue and White had won every contest against SFU, dropping all four of its games to the Red Flash in the past eight years.


The Red Flash sit atop the Northeastern Conference standings with a 29-18 overall record and a 9-1 record in conference play. Most recently, SFU swept the weekly conference awards for the third time this season after earning weekend victories over Bryant and Mount St. Mary’s in doubleheader action.

Hayley Norton paces a SFU offense that is hitting .302 on the season with a .368 batting average that includes 56 hits with 13 doubles, three triples and 14 home runs while driving in 52 RBI on the season. Along with Norton, five other Red Flash hitters are batting .300-or-better with Jordan Seneca tallying a team-high 16 home runs and Sierra McKee scoring a team-best 47 runs for Saint Francis. Seneca has also been a threat on the basepath to opponents, stealing 10 bases on 11 attempts, while Kindra Witthus has swiped seven bases on 10 attempts for the Red Flash.

Saint Francis has adopted the pitch by committee mentality with four different hurlers making 20-or-more appearances on the season, while none have pitched over seven complete games this year. Ketarah DeVries holds a 12-3 overall record for the Red Flash, giving up 30 earned runs and striking out 102 in 90.1 innings of work this season, while Blaire Lauthers has tossed 49.1 innings with 20 earned runs for a 2.84 ERA.


The Nittany Lions tallied their 22nd game with 10-or-more hits and their eighth game scoring 10-or-more runs in the 2016 season in game three against the Hawkeyes of Iowa Sunday, Apr. 24. Senior Erin Pond paced Penn State with two hits, two RBI and scored twice, while sophomore Alyssa VanDerveer notched three hits with one RBI and touched home twice. Finally, senior Lexi Knief, sophomore Mollie Sorenson and senior Reina Furuya all had multi-hit game with two hits apiece. As a team, the Blue and White had 14 hits compared to Iowa’s seven and drove in eight RBI.


After four scoreless innings and just one hit, the Nittany Lion offense exploded in the top of the fifth inning in game one against the Hawkeyes, scoring all eight of its run on nine hits as the Iowa defense saw 13 different batters before securing the final out of the inning. The huge inning was just Penn State’s first comeback victory when trailing after four innings of action this season. Despite dropping game two, 4-1, the Blue and White roared back to take an 11-3 six-inning victory in the final game of the series to clinch its fifth Big Ten series victory of the 2016 campaign.


For the first time in Penn State softball history, the Nittany Lions secured five Big Ten Conference series victories, taking two of three games for the Hawkeyes of Iowa.

The Nittany Lions earned four Big Ten Conference series victories in one season just one time since the Big Ten adopted the three-game format and three times overall since the Nittany Lions joined the league in 1991. Last season, Penn State took four conference victories with at least two wins against Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Rutgers. However, the Blue and White swept only two series in the 2015 campaign.


Penn State softball is off to its best start in conference action in the history of the program with an 13-4 record and ranking third overall in the highly competitive Big Ten Conference. The Nittany Lions have won seven of its last nine games in B1G action, including taking its fifth series victory with two wins over Iowa. The Blue and White has won five of its six conference series, falling twice to Ohio State to drop the mid-week doubleheader series against the Buckyes. Despite its losses against Indiana and Iowa, the Nittany Lions still picked up the series win taking two games against the Hoosiers and Hawkeyes.


In its first six conference series, Penn State has won three by way of the sweep. The Nittany Lions kicked off the 2016 Big Ten Conference season with a sweep of Rutgers on the road and followed it up with a home sweep of Michigan State. After falling twice at Ohio State and earning the series win at Indiana, Penn State returned to Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field to sweep Maryland in front of record breaking crowds.

Furthermore, the sweep of UMD is just the first time in program history that the Blue and White has swept three three-game series in Big Ten Conference play. Finally, the last time that Penn State swept three conference series was in the 2006 campaign when the Nittany Lions earned three sweeps in two-game conference series.


For just the eighth time in program history, Penn State has secured at least 10 wins in Big Ten Conference play. The 2016 Blue and White squad reached its 10 victories in fewer games than any other team as it took just 13 conference contests. The 2002 Nittany Lions reached the 10-win mark in 15 games which was the fewest amount of games prior to the 2016 campaign.


Seniors Lexi Knief and Macy Jones are amongst the best in the Big Ten Conference when it comes to league games.

Knief currently has the hottest bat in the Big Ten Conference action as she is batting a conference-best .508 through 17 games of league play. Knief leads the B1G in batting average (.508), hits (31) and total bases (42), while tying for second in doubles (7), third in triples (2), and sixth in runs scored (21). The senior outfielder is hitting .376 overall on the season with 50 hits and 27 RBI batting in the five-spot for the Blue and White. Knief has tallied 17 multi-hit games and eight multi-RBI games in the 2016 season.

Jones ties for fifth in the Big Ten in league games with a .442 batting average, while being one of the hardest batters in the B1G to get out ranking second with a .597 on-base percentage. Jones also leads the Big Ten in walks (19), ties for second in runs scored (22), ties for sixth in home runs (5) and hits (23), ties for ninth in RBI (15) and ties for eighth in doubles (4). Jones leads the Nittany Lions with a .401 batting average, tallying 55 hits and 37 RBI on the season while carrying a .715 slugging percentage and a .515 on-base percentage.


The No. 2 Wolverines of the University of Michigan will head to Happy Valley Friday, Apr. 29 for a three game series with Penn State. The series will be a Big Ten Conference top-three showdown with the Wolverines leading the conference and Penn State sitting in third in B1G action. Game one of the series is slated for 6 p.m. Friday, Apr. 29, while game two is set for Saturday, Apr. 30 at 3 p.m. The series will conclude Sunday, May 1 at 1 p.m.

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