Lady Nittany Lions celebrate seniors against Fighting Illini

PENN STATE WRAPS UP HOME SLATE

The Penn State softball team plays its final home contests of the 2018 season when it takes on Illinois in a Big Ten Conference series Friday, April 27-Sunday, April 29. The Nittany Lions and the Fighting Illini will be featured on the Big Ten Network in the series opener Friday, April 27 at 8 p.m., while game two of the series will be played at 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 28. The series finale is set for Sunday, April 29 at noon where Penn State will honor the careers of seniors Gianna Arrizurieta, Jessica Cummings, and Ashton Mensinger.

CATCHING THE GAMES FROM HOME

Fans who cannot make the trip to Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field can catch all the action live by following along with live Twitter updates @PennStateSB while also following live stats at GoPSUsports.com and watching live on the Big Ten Network for Friday’s game against the Fighting Illini. Fans can catch the rest of the series with Illinois live on LionVision.

SERIES HISTORY WITH ILLINOIS

Illinois leads the all-time series, 24-12, having won the last two games. Last season, the Nittany Lions met up with Illinois in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, falling 3-0. The Blue and White bats started strong, with Toni Polk going 2-for-3 at the plate. However, Illinois defense was able to hold off Penn State’s offense. The Fighting Illinois scored in the bottom of the first inning on a triple and a suicide squeeze; and the Nittany Lions were not able to answer back through the remaining six innings of action.

SCOUTING THE FIGHTING ILLINI

Illinois eclipsed the 30-win mark this season as it comes into the weekend series with a 31-15 overall record and a 9-6 record in Big Ten Conference play. The Fighting Illini are the best batting team in the conference with a team average of .324 with 420 hits in 46 contests. Kiara Sherlund ranks third in the B1G and leads Illinois with a .402 batting average that includes 70 hits, 5 doubles, eight triples, four home runs and 38 RBI. Sherlund has also swiped 11 bases on 13 attempts and been walked six times this season, while striking out just 12 times. Along with Sherlund, Illinois has big power from Maddi Doane and Bella Loya, who have hit a combined 17 home runs this season with nine and eight, respectively. Finally, six Fighting Illini are hitting above .300 this season for coach Tyra Perry’s squad. In the circle, Illinois has looked to four different hurlers at some point this season with Emily Oestreich making 33 appearances and 24 starts. Oestreich has thrown 1115.2 innings and struck out 89 with a 3.87 ERA, while Taylor Edwards has thrown 111.2 innings and carries a 3.45 ERA.

SENIOR SPOTLIGHTS

-Gianna Arrizurieta – Has appeared in 104 games with 82 starts in her four year career as a Nittany Lions in a variety of roles and positions. The Pembroke Pines, Florida native in a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and a 2017 Big Ten Sportsmanship Award winner.

-Jessica Cummings – Has made 96 appearances with 56 starts in the circle, throwing a total of 321.2 innings for Penn State. The Owings, Maryland native is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and a NFCA Easton Scholar-Athlete.

-Ashton Mensinger – Walked on the team in 2018 after being a student manager for two seasons. Mensinger appeared in 15 games this season and has thrown 22.1 innings.

VALLEJOS SEIZING OPPORTUNITIES

Freshman Haley Vallejos came on as a pinch hitter in both games against Saint Francis and proved to do a job for the Nittany Lions. In game one against the Red Flash, with runners on first and third, Vallejos drove a deep sacrifice fly into center field to score the runner on third for the Blue and White. In game two, Vallejos stepped in in her second pinch hit situation of the night and this time drove a single up the middle for the Nittany Lions. Furthermore, Vallejos tallied three hits against Bucknell and drove in one run for Penn State.

ON DECK

Penn State finishes its 2018 regular season when it travels to Minneapolis, Minnesota for a three-game Big Ten Conference series Friday, May 4-Sunday, May 6.

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