UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This past weekend's series marked the final regular season home stand for the lone three Penn State seniors, Kasie Hatfield, Liz Presto and Alyssa Sovereign.
The three seniors led the Nittany Lion offense as they combined to hit 6-for-14 with two walks, two runs scored and a home run over the weekend despite Penn State (14-34, 5-18 Big Ten) falling in all three games to conference foe Illinois (23-25, 7-16 Big Ten).
"I'm very happy with how the seniors played today and all season long," said head coach Amanda Lehotak. "I thought they played with guts and character and hard work. It was a great class. I feel very selfish in the fact that I'm disappointed I didn't get to coach them for four years."
All three seniors recorded a hit in Sunday's regular season finale.
For Hatfield, she managed to go out with a bang, crushing her second home run of the season, in her final regular season at-bat as a Nittany Lion on Sunday.
Hatfield fouled the first pitch down the line; a ball that Lehotak argued was in fair territory. She then looked at a changeup for a ball. The last pitch of the at-bat was right down the heart of the plate. Hatfield wasn't trying to hit a home run, but she put a charge into it, and the ball flew over the wall in centerfield.
"It felt great," said Hatfield. "To go out my last at-bat here with a home run is pretty sweet."
With that being said, senior day was Saturday for Penn State, a special moment for the three seniors and their families.
"I loved [senior day]," said Hatfield. "My brother has never been up here, and he came up yesterday to make it to one of my final games and senior banquet, so I was really happy with that. "
For Presto and Sovereign, the final home stand was full of emotions, but for Hatfield, the feeling was bittersweet.
"I think I have a different view because I am coming back," said Hatfield. "It's just going to be weird that I'm not playing."
That's right. The senior catcher will be returning next year as part of Lehotak's staff as a volunteer assistant. Hatfield thinks that playing catcher will translate well into being a formidable coach.
"I'm just really excited to learn because I feel like I know a lot about the game," said Hatfield. "I'm curious to see what exactly it is they do behind-the-scenes."
Lehotak joked about the idea of having her senior catcher as a coach next year.
"I think I hit my head when I agreed to that," said Lehotak. "We're very honored that Kasie [Hatfield] is choosing to stay on. Hopefully we can teach her a few things about the business side of softball. I look forward to learning from her, as well."
The season is not over, yet. Up next for the Nittany Lions is the Big Ten Tournament, which begins Thursday at Northwestern University.
Tenth-seeded Penn State will take on No. 7 seed Ohio State at 2:30 ET. Penn State will try to replicate last year's upset win as an 11 seed against sixth-seeded Illinois.
"Crazy things happen in tournaments," said Hatfield. "You never know who's going to win. We can come through, as long as we do what we're supposed to do."