UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State softball program has released its 2013 schedule. The spring slate, which consists of five tournaments to open the year, includes 13 games at Beard Field and Nittany Lion Softball Park. Head coach Robin Petrini, now in her 17th year at the helm of the program, will lead the Lions against 11 squads that reached the 2012 NCAA Tournament, including national runner-up Oklahoma, as well as the top five teams from the 2012 Big Ten standings.
The Nittany Lions kick off the 2013 campaign with a cross-country trip to Las Cruces, N.M., to compete in the three-day Troy Cox Classic hosted by New Mexico State from Feb. 15-17. There the team will face Colorado State, Texas Tech, Missouri-Kansas City and the hosting Aggies before heading back to the East Coast for North Carolina’s Carolina Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C., Feb. 23-24. Along with the Tar Heels, Penn State will meet George Washington, North Dakota State and Iona on the diamond.
After a week off, the Blue and White head south for an extended stay in Florida at a pair of tournaments. Orlando is the first stop for the Citrus Classic March 2-3, followed by South Florida’s Under Armour Showcase in Clearwater from March 8-10. At the USF event, Penn State will draw a diverse mix of opponents in Loyola Marymount, Western Michigan, Toledo, Maine and South Carolina.
Penn State travels back to the West Coast for its final tournament March 15-17 to take on Arizona, Texas, Washington, DePaul and Oklahoma at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif.
The squad opens Big Ten action March 22-24 with a three-game series against Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich., before hosting its first event of the season at Nittany Lion Softball Park the following weekend against Michigan. Road trips to Indiana and Ohio State are on the April slate with a Wednesday-night clash with Pittsburgh thrown between the Hoosiers and Buckeyes.
A mid-week doubleheader against Purdue opens a seven-game homestand for the Nittany Lions from April 17-24, which also sees Northwestern and Kent State visit University Park. After a trip to Iowa to close the month, Penn State wraps up the regular season with a three-game clash with Nebraska at home before heading to Lincoln, Neb., to compete at the Big Ten Tournament May 9.
NCAA Regionals take place May 17-19, followed by NCAA Super Regionals May 24-26 and the NCAA Women’s College World Series May 30 to June 5 in Oklahoma City.
Six seniors lead the Nittany Lion squad this season, including outfielders Cassidy Bell (Bakersfield, Calif.) and Shannon Hutchinson (Sewell, N.J.), infielders Kailyn Johnson (Yorba Linda, Calif.), Alyssa Renwick (Laurens, S.C.) and Lauren Yao (Los Angeles, Calif.) along with utility player Rachel Myers (Millheim, Pa.). Penn State returns its top five hitters from a season ago, along with eight players with 30 or more starts in 2012.