Softball Faces Penn State And Ohio State In Weekend Travels

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Softball Faces Penn State And Ohio State In Weekend Travels
MSU is one of four teams with two losses in Big Ten play.
EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State softball team (32-14, 8-2 Big Ten) resumes Big Ten play on the road this weekend at Penn State, Friday (2 p.m.) and Saturday (noon). The Spartans conclude their fourth conference series away from home on Sunday at Ohio State with a doubleheader beginning at noon. State enters weekend play as one of four teams with two conference losses. Sophomore Caitlin Mahoney has a team-high 15 hits in conference play, while sophomore Lesley Noel anchors the Green and White rotation with a 1.31 ERA.Â
Weekend Action
Michigan State travels to face Penn State and Ohio State in Big Ten action on the road, its second consecutive conference weekend away from home. Both OSU and MSU hold 8-2 Big Ten records, while the Nittany Lions enter weekend play with a 3-7 mark against league opponents.Â
All-Time RecordsAll-Time Records
The Penn State series is tied at 18 wins each, while OSU leads the all-time series against the Spartans, 51-34. MSU split both series’ against the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes a year ago.        Â
Going Racing!
The Big Ten race continues to heat up as Michigan, MSU, Northwestern and Ohio State each have two losses in conference play. State travels to OSU this weekend, faces Northwestern on April 28-29, and closes the regular season at home against Michigan on May 6-7.Â
Streaking Spartans
State is 11-4 in the month of April, winning five of its last eight contests. Caitlin Mahoney rides an eight-game hitting streak heading into play against the Nittany Lions, while in conference action, Nikki Nicosia and Nicole Mercado have each hit safely in five straight Big Ten games.Â
Climbing The Charts
Rachel Turney earned her 15th win of the season versus Iowa on April 16, a new career high for the Lansing, Mich. native. Dayna Feenstra continues to climb the all-time charts in doubles with 13 in 2006; she is tied for fifth place with 34 in the MSU record book.
Sweeping The Titans
Caitlin Mahoney went 4 for 7 with two runs and four RBI, while Meghan Darhower added three hits in the series sweep of in-state rival Detroit on Tuesday. Dana Rosenblatt tallied one home run and three RBI, while Lesley Noel improved to 9-4 on the year with a complete game victory in game one.
Big Ten Roundup
Michigan State is one of four teams (Michigan, Northwestern and Ohio State) that have just two losses in Big Ten competition with three weekends of the conference season remaining.   Lesley Noel ranks third among conference pitchers with a 1.15 ERA from the circle, while Dayna Feenstra is tied for second with 13 doubles for the year.Â
Wisconsin & Iowa Series Notes
• Nicole Mercado led the Spartan offense hitting a combined .467 (7 for 15) at the plate versus Wisconsin and Iowa.
• With the 8-4 victory vs. Iowa in game two of the doubleheader, Michigan State recorded its 30th win of the 2006 season. The feat marks the ninth time MSU has posted at least 30 wins in a season, and the third time in the past four years.
• Caitlin Mahoney posted three hits versus both Wisconsin and Iowa, for a total of 15 hits against league competition.Â
• Dayna Feenstra recorded her 12th and 13th doubles of the season versus the Badgers and Hawkeyes, respectively. Feenstra’s 13 doubles, 34 RBI and .523 slugging percentage are all team-bests in 2006.
• Rachel Turney went 2-1 vs. Wisconsin and Iowa. Her complete-game victory vs. the Hawkeyes on Sunday marked her 15th win of the season, a new career high.
• MSU has posted 54 doubles, 19 home runs and 180 RBI thus far in 2006 - all three marks are higher than their respective totals from a season ago.Â
• Hitting .336 as a team vs. UW and UI, State improved its 2006 average at the plate to .286, a Big Ten conference best.Â
A Look at Penn State
• The Nittany Lions are led by head coach Robin Petrini in her 10th year at the helm of the Penn State program.
• PSU has reached the NCAA tournament seven times, including five of the last six seasons.
• Jen Acunto paces the Penn State offense, hitting .315 with 37 hits and 19 RBI in 2006.
• Missy Beseres ranks as one of the top pitchers in the Big Ten Conference. Her 0.97 ERA is a team-best from the circle.Â
Last Time Versus Penn State
Michigan State’s softball team played its fifth longest game in school history, winning 2-1, in a 13-inning marathon with Penn State in 2005. MSU pitching gave up only one earned run on the day, including an 11-inning outing by Rachel Turney in the first game of the doubleheader; she allowed an earned run and struck out five. Lesley Noel picked up the win by shutting out PSU in the final two frames of game one, but was credited with the loss (3-1) in the second contest, allowing one earned run in 4 2/3 IP. Caitlin Mahoney extended her hitting streak to a team-high eight games, posting the game-winning RBI double in MSU’s 2-1 victory.
A Look at Ohio State
• Ohio State is coached by Megan Schwab at the plate, hitting .339 with 42 hits, including four home runs and nine doubles.
• The Buckeyes are led by Linda Kalafatis, who has amassed a 295-209 record in nine seasons at OSU.
• Ohio State has three wins over ranked opponents in 2006: a 6-0 blanking of then-No.22 Oregon on Feb. 25., and a series sweep of then-No. 15 Northwestern (April 8-9).
• Kim Reeder is 13-6 from the circle, holding opposing batters to a team-low .208 average.
Last Time Versus Ohio State
Michigan State fell to Ohio State, 6-1, on Friday, April 8, 2005, at Old College Field. The Spartans posted eight hits on the day, (with Victoria Morache and Dayna Feenstra leading the way with two apiece), but stranded 10 runners on the bases. OSU, meanwhile, had eight hits, but left only four runners on base. Lesley Noel relieved starting pitcher Christy McGrew in the fifth and did not allow a hit in the final 2 1/3 innings. In the final game of the series, MSU posted a strong outing at the plate, posting a 7-4 victory. The Spartans tallied 12 hits and placed their leadoff runner on base in five of the seven innings in the win.
NCAA Statistics
Lesley Noel ranks 26th in the nation with a 1.15 ERA in games play through April 16, while as a staff, the Spartan pitchers rank 30th with a 1.70 combined ERA.Â
Grand Slam Performance
Designated player Dana Rosenblatt hit her first career grand slam in an 8-2 victory over Purdue on April 8. During her first two seasons at MSU, she recorded just four hits in five starts; in 2006, Rosenblatt has made a significant impact on the Spartan offense with 18 hits, 17 RBI and five home runs.Â
Did You Know?
The Green and White offense has posted 12 games with double-digit hit totals in 2006, most recently versus Detroit on April 18 (10). State has posted at least vie funs in 19 games, and has scored 10 or more three times. In 2005, MSU managed six games with double-digit hit totals, and just 11 games with at least five runs scored.Â
Behind The Plate
Freshman catcher Kara Weigle has made 23 appearances behind the plate in 2006. In those starts, 26 opponents have attempted a stolen base and Weigle has gunned down five of those runners. In 2005, MSU halted just 12 attempts, while in 2006, State has stopped eight runners from advancing.Â
Slim Margins
State has played in 24 games decided by two runs or less. The Spartans are 9-5 in one-run games, and hold a 5-5 mark in games decided by two runs.
From The Circle
All three starting pitchers in the MSU rotation garnered at least one win in six games last week, while Rachel Turney led the crew with a 2-1 mark. Turney is 15-6, Lesley Noel is 9-4 and freshman hurler Megan Hair is 8-4. Among Big Ten competitors, the Spartan pitchers rank fourth with a combined 1.70 ERA. Â
Road Weary
MSU is midway through a stretch of four consecutive Big Ten series’ on the road in the month of April. In league play at Old College Field, MSU is 6-0, while on the road, State holds a 2-2 mark.Â
A Closer Look At The Numbers
The Spartans are better than their opponents in nearly every offensive statistical category - batting average, (.288-.201) hits (352-229), runs (199-105), RBI (180-97), doubles (54-39), home runs (21-9) and total bases (479-307). MSU has hit five triples this season, including three by Nicole Mercado and two by Nikki Nicosia.
Best In A While
MSU’s 8-2 start in Big Ten play is the best opening to a conference season since the 1997 campaign, when State began the year 12-0 against league opponents. The Spartans earned bids to both the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Regionals that year.
Multiple Efforts
The Spartan offense has tallied 83 multi-hit and 43 multi-RBI games in 2006. Nikki Nicosia holds a team-best 12 multi-hit games, highlighted with a 5-for-5 performance vs. Wright State on March 9. Dayna Feenstra has 10 multi-RBI games, including two games with at least five RBI. Feenstra tallied five RBI against Buffalo on March 5, and set a single-season record with seven RBI against Wright State on March 9.
Starting Success
Three Spartans have started all 46 games in 2006. Dayna Feenstra has anchored a strong Green and White defense with 46 starts at first base, Gina Mondo has started every contest of her freshman season at second base while Meghan Darhower has made 31 starts at third base and 15 at shortstop.Â
Against Ranked Opponents
In 2006, MSU is 1-1 when facing a ranked opponent. MSU fell, 5-4, in extra innings against then-No. 12 Georgia, and most recently defeated then-No. 25 North Carolina, 5-3, at the FAU Parents’ Weekend Tournament on March 18. State is not scheduled to face another ranked opponent until April 28-29, when the Spartans host Northwestern (No. 16/16).
Around The Bases
Michigan State has posted 19 home runs through the first 46 games of the season. In 2005, the Spartans managed just 11 home runs in 54 games played. Dayna Feenstra has one home run in Big Ten play and Caitlin Mahoney has hit a team-best two home runs against league competition.
The 15-Win Mark
Michigan State reached the 15-win mark in just 23 games. It is the fastest the Spartans have reached 15 wins since the 2003 season when it was done in just the 18th game of the year. State’s 4-0 start at the Holiday Inn Express Pirate Classic marked the best start by a Spartan squad since the 1997 season when Jacquie Joseph led MSU to a 7-0 mark to begin the year.
h - b - p (hit by pitch)
Seven Spartans have been hit by pitches in 2006. Dayna Feenstra, Nikki Nicosia and Traci Nicosia have all been hit once, while Meghan Darhower and Gina Mondo have each been hit twice.  Caitlin Mahoney has been hit three times, while freshman catcher Kara Weigle has been hit a team-high five times.
mvp in style
Spartan pitching ace Rachel Turney went 2-0 at the Pirate Classic with wins over Army and host ECU in the championship game. For her play, Turney was named the Holiday Inn Express Pirate Classic Tournament MVP, and also Big Ten Pitcher of the Week. Turney garnered her second MVP honor when she was selected, along with teammate Dayna Feenstra, as the FAU Parents’ Weekend tournament co-MVP on March 19.

Courtesy of MSU SID.