Two new softball complexes hosted inaugural games in the last week as Penn State and Pittsburgh each opened the 2011 home schedule.
Penn State debuted its $10.2 million Nittany Lion Park/Beard Field complex on March 26 with a sweep of Big Ten foe Wisconsin, winning 8-5 and 3-2 (8 inn.). Beard Field boasts 1,084 permanent seats with integrated team facilities, including a locker room, training room, media center, video room and study space. The facility has already been selected to host the 2011-14 Pennsylvania state high school softball championships.
A pair of Nittany Lions earned Big Ten honors following the home opener. Pitcher-of-the-week and co-player-of-the-week honors went to Lisa Akamine and Cassidy Bell, respectively, for their work against the Badgers.
Akamine allowed just one hit in 8.2 innings of work on the weekend, while winning both games against Wisconsin. On Saturday, she came in to pitch 3.2 innings in relief to earn the victory, adding an inside-the-park home run in PSU’s 8-5 win. Bell had four doubles against Wisconsin, hitting .667 with two RBI and the game-tying run in the eighth inning on Sunday, while adding two stolen bases and two runs scored.
Penn State then traveled to Pittsburgh to help the Panthers open their Petersen Sports Complex/Vartabedian Field facility on March 29. Pitt won the first game of the doubleheader 2-1 on a walk-off single by Reba Tutt. Cory Berliner became Pittsburgh’s all-time winningest pitcher in the victory while Ashley Amistade took hold of Pittsburgh’s career steals record with a swipe in each game, giving her 65 for her career. Penn State won the nightcap 2-0 after the Nittany Lions broke up a perfect game with two runs in the top of the sixth.
Before the contest with PSU, Berliner pitched her first career no-hitter last week and was named Big East Pitcher of the Week. Pittsburgh (23-7) is off to its best start in program history.
Need to Know
• Emily Estep of Shippensburg earned NFCA Division II National Pitcher of the Week honors after winning five games last week. She allowed just one earned run on 11 hits with 10 walks and 32 strikeouts. She finished the week with a 0.29 ERA, limiting opponents to a .134 batting average. Estep tossed three complete games and earned two wins in relief. In her final game of the week, she allowed just two hits and had 12 Ks against Millersville. Shippensburg, now 20-8 on the year, appears in this week’s NFCA Division II Top 25 poll for the first time in nearly four years, coming in at No. 24.
• Georgia senior outfielder Brianna Hesson earned USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week honors after hitting .500 for the week to help Georgia post a three-game sweep against then-No. 2 Florida in Gainesville, Fla., last week. In the opening game against Florida, Hesson drove in Georgia’s first run on a two-out single and in the seventh she hit a two-out, three-run home run that proved to be the difference in the 10-7 victory. She followed that with another two-out, three-run home run in the fourth inning for a 13-5 win in Game 2. Hesson helped Georgia, then ranked No. 4, clinch the third game by going 2 for 3 with an RBI. It was the first sweep of the Gators in Gainesville since 2006.
• Lexy Determan of Luther College was named the NFCA Division III National Player of the Week. The senior pitcher helped the fourth-ranked Norse to a 6-0 week. Determan went 5-0, completing all five games she started. She pitched four shutouts, allowing one earned run in 35.0 IP, striking out 41. She had two games with 10-plus strikeouts, including 12 Ks in an 8-0, six-inning win against Fontbonne. She gave up her first earned run of the season in a 4-1 win against Chicago.
• Jacqueline Grim of Loyola-Chicago was named the NFCA Division I National Player of the Week. Grim, a senior, went 5 for 5 with five walks, two home runs, a double, five runs scored and four RBIs on the week. She hit 1.000 with a 1.000 on-base percentage and a 2.400 slugging percentage. Defensively, she was error-free on 18 chances at first base as Loyola swept Youngstown State in a Horizon League series.
• Catcher Katie Mazure of UMass-Lowell earned NFCA Division II Player of the Week honors after going 10 for 14 last week as Lowell won three of its four games. She ended the week with a .714 batting average with four runs, eight RBI and had just one error in 30 chances behind the plate.
• Robert Morris head coach Craig Coleman won his 500th career game for the Colonials on Sunday as RMU swept Fairleigh Dickinson 7-2 and 7-0 in Teaneck, N.J. Coleman, who owns six conference tournament titles with RMU and also serves as the school’s director of athletics, became the first head coach in any sport in Robert Morris history to reach the 500-win mark.
• Linfield is once again in sole possession of the top spot in the NFCA Division III Top 25 Poll after sharing that honor with now-No. 2 Emory last week.
• Alabama remained No. 1 in both the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 and the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25, despite splitting a midweek doubleheader with then-No. 11 Tennessee.
• UNLV’s Amanda Oliveto became the fifth pitcher in program history and first in 16 years to throw a no-hitter on Sunday with a 3-0 win at Cal Poly. She struck out eight and induced 12 ground-ball outs and one fly out, allowing four base runners in the game (one walk, hit one, two via error).
• Ari Cervantes of Cal State Fullerton and Erin Jones-Wesley of Long Beach State were selected as co-Big West Pitchers of the Week. Cervantes went 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 11 Ks in 14.0 IP while Jones-Wesley was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and a save with 12 Ks and 14.2 IP.
• Arizona sophomore Brigette Del Ponte hit .600 last week in three games against Cal State Northridge, hitting two home runs and recording 10 RBIs in 10 at-bats.
• Thomas More freshman Kassee Florea earned President’s Athletic Conference Player-of-the-Week honors, leading the Saints to a 5-1 record with a .474 average (9 for 19) with three home runs, a double, 10 RBIs and six runs scored.
• Wilmington’s Katie Warrington struck out 28 last week, allowing three hits and three walks for a 3-0 record.
• Boise State freshman outfielder Devon Bridges helped the Broncos to a WAC-opening sweep of Nevada, going 5 for 7 (.714) at the plate with four home runs and 10 RBIs in the three-game series.
• Alex Lagesse of Valparaiso went 3-0 last week including the first perfect game of her career in a five-inning win over Detroit.