On Friday, the Rutgers softball team will head down to University Park, Pennsylvania, to take on Penn State for a weekend series. This will be the Scarlet Knights' (5-15, 5-15) first series against the Nittany Lions (1-18, 1-18) and the second campus away series of the season.
Rutgers will look to continue its momentum as it is currently on a two-game win streak. The team will face off against a Penn State team that has lost its last three games and has only won 1 game in its last 10.
The first game will be held Friday afternoon followed by a doubleheader on Saturday, with the series concluding with a Sunday game.
The Knights have an 8-13 record against the Nittany Lions since 1999, but in 2019, they won all three of their games against Penn State.
On the mound, Rutgers is led by sophomore pitcher Ashley Hitchcock and sophomore pitcher Jaden Vickers. Hitchcock has a 3-6 record and has pitched 65.2 innings with a 5.65 earned runs average (ERA) and 40 strikeouts. Vickers has a 0-3 record and has pitched 26.2 innings with a 6.83 ERA and 23 strikeouts.
At the plate, the Nittany Lions have to worry about graduate student utility Gabrielle Callaway and sophomore infielder Payton Lincavage. Callaway is having a great season, leading the team with a .343 batting average and 13 RBIs. She also has started every game, scoring 13 runs with a .567 slugging percentage and a .380 on-base percentage.
Callaway also led the team with 4 home runs, 3 of which came in the last series against Nebraska. Lincavage is also having a great season hitting .297 with a .375 on-base percentage. Lincavage has scored 15 runs with four RBIs and a .406 slugging percentage.
Other key contributors for the Knights are sophomore infielder/catcher Kiersten Withstandley, graduate student utility player Anyssa Iliopoulos and graduate student outfielder Hailey Hoklotubbe. Hoklotubbe has started eight games hitting .250 with a .300 slugging percentage and a .286 on-base percentage.
Hoklotubbe, looking back on her career, said, “I couldn't tell you that I would be in New Jersey, and I wouldn't have even thought I would still be here for the fifth year, but I feel like college softball was always the end goal so it's hard to come to a close of my softball career.”
Penn State is led by Melody Coombs and Kylee Lingenfelter. Coombs is hitting a .286 percentage with 2 home runs and a .536 slugging percentage. Lingenfelter has a 3.00 ERA and 1.63 walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP) with 23.1 innings pitched.
If Rutgers wants to continue its winning streak, then it is going to have to ride hot bats and have a solid defense. The Knights will look to grab some wins on the road and extend their winning streak from the previous week.
For updates on the Rutgers softball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.