Softball hosts No. 6 Michigan for three-game series

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State continues its eight-game homestand this weekend with a three-game series vs. No. 6 Michigan. The Lions and the Wolverines open the weekend on Friday at 6 p.m. and will return to Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field on Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Friday - 6 p.m.
Saturday - 3 p.m.
Sunday - 1 p.m.

Penn State softball will be offering several promos in this weekend's games, starting with a shaker and poster giveaway on Friday, while supplies last. Fans in attendance on Saturday will receive a miniature stress relief bat and the giveaway for Sunday's contest will be schedule magnets, while supplies last. Fans will also have a chance to receive giveaways during the game with promos such as the Dominos Double Play Inning, PSU Bookstore Home Run Inning, Uncle Chen's Challenge and McDonald's Strike Out the Side contests. Those in attendance will be encouraged to create signs for Saturday's games at the Create-A-Sign station located at the entrance to the park. There will also be an autograph sessions with the Penn State softball players and coaches following Sunday's games.

Parking for all Penn State softball events is free. Fans will be permitted to park to the Orange B lots located just west and south of the ballpark. Should the two Orange B lots become full; fans will also be permitted to park in Lot 82, which is adjacent to the parking lot at Nittany Lion Softball Park.

The Nittany Lions are 7-53 against the Wolverines all-time. Penn State's last win vs. Michigan came on March 18, 2007 in a 5-2 decision in Ann Arbor.

Michigan enters the weekend as the No. 6 team in the nation with a record of 22-6 overall and has won eight consecutive games. The Wolverines most recently swept Indiana in the opening weekend of Big Ten play, run-ruling the Hoosiers in each of the contests. Michigan's last loss came on March 7 to Houston in a 5-2 decision, which marks its only loss to an unranked opponent this year. Sophomore Sierra Romero has led the charge for the Wolverines, hitting at a .507 clip with 34 RBI on 36 hits. Romero leads the league in batting average, slugging percentage (.887), on base percentage (.645), runs scored (33), RBI (34) and walks (31).

The Michigan pitching staff has combined for 161 strikeouts in 183 innings, the fifth most in the Big Ten. Junior Haylie Wagner heads into the weekend with a perfect 15-0 record on the rubber and has doled out 64 strikeouts in 86 innings.

The Nittany Lions opened Big Ten play last weekend with a three-game series vs. Purdue. PSU dropped all three games over the weekend, moving to 24-23-1 against the Boilermakers all-time. Senior Kasie Hatfield led the Lions offensively vs. Purdue, putting together a 5-for-10 effort at the dish with two doubles and two RBI.

Sophomore Lexi Knief is off to a great start in 2014. The outfielder is 27-for-72 at the plate for a team-best batting average of .375 and has scored a team-best 23 runs. She is tied for first in the league and 26th in the nation in triples with three and has posted three doubles on the year. The Ramsey, N.J. product ranks 11th in the B1G with an on-base percentage of .471 and is currently the 24th-toughest hitter to strike out in the nation.

Freshman pitcher Marlaina Laubach has done the bulk of the work in the circle for Penn State, earning wins in four of PSU's six victories, including a signature win over No. 21 LSU. The Northampton, Pa. native has a team-best ERA of 3.61 through 62.0 innings. She has thrown 38 strikeouts on the season, including a season-high six vs. FAU (2/21).

Sophomore Karlie Habitz has come out of the gate swinging, literally. The Newhall, Calif. native leads the Lions and is tied for 11th in the conference with 21 RBIs. Habitz also leads Penn State in slugging percentage at .565 and has registered four doubles and a team-best four home runs. The catcher, who is hitting at a .333 clip, drove in two runs last weekend vs. Purdue going 4-for-10 at the plate with a home run and a double.

Habitz posted six RBI in the season opener vs. Oregon State (2/7), a mark that ties for the second most in program history.

Senior Kasie Hatfield is currently tied for second in the league in doubles, having already notched nine this season. The Tampa, Fla. native surpassed her previous season-best of eight doubles from 2012 in the second game of PSU's doubleheader with Purdue last Saturday.

Penn State is currently atop the Big Ten standings in triples, having registered seven thus far. Knief leads the team with three while freshman Shelby Miller and sophomore Macy Jones have posted two apiece.

Penn State closes out its eight-game homestand next weekend with a doubleheader vs. Saint Francis. The twin bill is set for a 5 p.m. start at Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field.

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Last Updated March 27, 2014