Penn State Softball Travels to Indiana for Weekend Series

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Penn State caps off its five-game road stint with a three-game series against the Hoosiers of Indiana University Friday, Apr. 8 – Sunday, Apr. 10.

The Nittany Lions and the Hoosiers will play game one at 6 p.m. Friday, Apr. 8 followed by game two Saturday, Apr. 9 at 1 p.m. The two teams finish the conference series Sunday, Apr. 11 with an 11 a.m. first pitch. All three games will be featured on BTN Plus ($).

Penn State trails the all-time series with Indiana, 36-27, after falling in all three games of the series at home in the 2015 campaign. However, Head Coach Amanda Lehotak has been successful in Indiana earning the series victory in her first year as head caoch. Lehotak took the 2013 Nittany Lions to Bloomington, Ind. and went 2-1 in her first year at the helm. Overall, Lehotak carries a 2-4 record against the Hoosiers. Penn State holds the slight advantage when playing Indiana in Bloomington with an 11-10 overall record on the road against the Hoosiers. Furthermore, Penn State is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings on the road against Indiana dating back to Apr. 26, 2002.

The Hoosiers come into the weekend with a 21-14 overall record and a 4-4 Big Ten Conference record. Most recently, Indiana split with the Boilermakers of Purdue in a mid-week conference contest.
IU has just two hitters batting over .300 in the 2016 campaigns and enters the weekend ranked 13th in the Big Ten with a .256 team batting average Rebecca Blitz has a team-high .375 batting which ranks 15th in the conference while her 42 hits tie for eighth overall. Blitz has reaked havoc on the basepath this spring tying for second in the conference with 20 steals on 23 attempts and has found a way to get on drawing 12 walks with a .449 on-base percentage. Erin Lehman is the only other IU batter to be hitting over .300 heading into the third week of conference action as she holds a .324 batting average and has driven in a team-high 21 RBI. CaraMia Tsirigos has shown the most power on the Indiana squad with four round-trippers this year, while Lehman, Kelsey Dotson and Michelle Huber have each notched two. The Hoosiers have had its fair share of struggles at the plate, tying for fifth in the Big Ten with 162 strikeouts with eight players fanning 10-or-more times this year. However, at times Indiana has shown its patience at the plate ranking seventh in the league with 103 base on balls.
The Hoosiers rely heavily on two hurlers in the circle with both tossing over 100 innings in the first 35 games. Tara Trainer has made 24 appearances with 17 starts and five complete games. The right-handed freshman has thrown 108.1 innings and ranks third in the B1G with 141 strikeouts on the season. Furthermore, the freshman leads the Hoosier pitching staff with a 2.78 ERA and an 11-8 record. Freshman Josie Wood makes up the other side of the dynamic duo for the Indiana pitching staff, tossing 112.1 innings with seven complete games. Wood holds a 2.87 ERA, giving up 101 hits and 46 earned runs in her first year as a Hooiser.

The Penn State softball team suffered its first losses in Big Ten Conference play at the hands of No. 24 Ohio State University Wednesday, Apr. 6 at Buckeye Field. The Nittany Lions (17-16, 6-2 B1G) fell 3-0 in game one before dropping a 12-10 decision in the tail end of the doubleheader. The Blue and White saw its seven-game win streak snapped as it was unable to find a hit in game one against Shelby Hursh. Junior pitcher Marlaina Laubach tossed all six innings, giving up just six hits and three earned runs, while striking out six in game one of the doubleheader. After not finding a hit in game one, Penn State roared back to mark its 18th game with 10-or-more hits on the season, scoring 10 runs on 11 hits in game two against the Buckeyes. Penn State got its offense going in game two as three Nittany Lions notched multi-hit games. Senior Lexi Knief paced the Blue and White with three hits including her second triple of the season, whileShelby Miller and Kristina Brackpool had two hits apiece. Brackpool drove in a four RBI in game two, which is just one shy of a career high, and launched her first home run of the 2016 campaign. Also roping a round-tripper was senior Macy Jones, notching her seventh of the season which ties for eighth in the Big Ten.

Penn State has proven once it gets the lead it can maintain it through the complete game as it is 13-2 when leading after two innings, 14-3 when leading after three and 14-1 when leading after four. However, if they Blue and White does not clinch the lead early it has struggled to tie up the game and secure the win as it is 0-11 when trailing after two innings of action. The Penn State key to victory proves to be taking the early lead over it opponents, scoring the majority of its runs in the second inning while giving up the most runs in the fourth inning.

Junior pitcher Marlaina Laubach was named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week for the period ended Apr. 3. The award marks the first of Laubach’s career and the first time a Penn State pitcher has garnered the honor since Lisa Akamine was named pitcher of the week, Mar. 28, 2011. Laubach earned the decision in game one in Penn State’s three-game sweep of Michigan State, pitching all seven innings. The right-handed pitcher gave up just four hits against MSU and allowed only one earned run in the victory. In game two against the Spartans, Laubach came on in relief in the top of the sixth inning to pitch two innings of shutout softball. The Northampton, Pa. native gave up two hits in the relief appearance and earned her second save of the 2016 season. The junior pitcher capped off the week with a 0.78 ERA after giving up only two runs, one of which was earned, and six hits in nine innings of action.
Laubach has made a team-high 24 appearances and 14 starts, carrying a team-best 2.20 earned run average in 86.0 innings of work. Furthermore, the junior hurler owns six wins for the Blue and White pitching staff and has struck out 56 batters on the season. Laubach ranks in the top five in the B1G in three pitching categories including: ERA (5th – 2.20), saves (T-5th – 2) and appearances (5th – 24), while ranking 10th in batters struck out looking with 20 and 13th in total strikeouts with 56.

Senior Reina Furuya has been producing quality at-bats each time she steps into the box for the Nittany Loins. The senior short stop’s .265 batting average is deceiving as she carries a .411 on-base percentage and a .301 slugging percentage. Furuya leads Penn State and ties for sixth in the Big Ten with 20 walks on the season. The senior short stop has had 22 hits and 11 RBI for the Blue and White, sparking the Penn State offense in the nine-spot.

The Penn State softball team has outscored its opponents 72-43. The Nittany Lions started the streak with an 8-5 win over Robert Morris before scoring 12 runs on two occasions against Rutgers. The Blue and White opened the series with a 12-8 win before capping off the series with a 12-1 five-inning victory over the Scarlet Knights. In its latest series, Penn State scored 26 runs against the Spartans of Michigan State with a 7-2, 11-5 and 8-6 wins. Despite its latest losses, the Nittany Lions are still almost doubling its last four opponents run production in the past nine contests.

After forecasted bad weather the Nittany Lions and the Spartans played a doubleheader on Friday, Apr. 1 in which Penn State took a 7-2 and 11-5 victory over Michigan State. The Blue and White finished off the series with an 8-6 victory in large part due to three home runs, two of which came from senior Macy Jones.

Penn State returns to Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field Wednesday, Apr. 13 for a non-conference doubleheader against Bucknell. The two teams will square off at 5 p.m. with the game slated to be broadcast on BTN Plus ($).

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