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Softball Season Preview: Pitchers and Catchers

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By Miranda Kulp, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With just a little less than a month left until the first game of the 2015 season, the Penn State softball team is entering the final stages of preseason prep before traveling to Boca Raton, Fla. for its first tournament of the year.

With a mix of new and returning players training since the fall, the Lions are determined to improve and are entering the season with high intensity throughout every workout.

Returning for her second year as head coach, Amanda Lehotak is ready to hit the ground running. She is preparing the team for the new season and new chance to make a splash in the Big Ten.

"I'm always eager to start a new season," said head coach Amanda Lehotak. "We were really impressed with the team's work ethic this fall and I can already start to see some major improvements in some of our weaker areas last year."

Last year the Lions went 14-35 overall, but instead of dwelling on the wins and losses the team is using them to its advantage and learning from past mistakes to grow.

"I think this group is capable of doing great things," Lehotak said. "We have a good batch of fresh talent being guided by our returning players. Already they've shown a constant willingness to work hard and improve during the preseason and I'm looking forward to see that intensity continue."

This year, the Lions will be welcoming six new players, five freshmen as well as a junior transfer. Redshirt Freshman Mia Monopoli is expected to compete for playing time behind the plate and is looking forward to opening day.

"I'm more excited than anything to start the season," said Monopoli. "I mean there are obviously some nerves but I can't wait for the games to start.
We've been preparing since the beginning of the school year so it's crazy thinking the season is this close to officially starting."

While some of the players are entering their first season as Nittany Lions, others are returning to Beard Field ready for another slate of games.

Among the group of returning players ready to grow from last season is senior pitcher Marissa Diescher.

"I think this year is going to be a big year for the program," said Diescher. "We have a lot of talent this year and I'm excited to see how everything meshes together once we start the season. I'm looking forward to proving ourselves this year since last year didn't end exactly the way we were hoping it would."

The Lions will be starting the season on the road in California, Florida, Mississippi and Texas. The team won't be playing at Beard Field until March 18.

"We intend on giving it our all this season and really proving ourselves," said
Diescher. "Whether it's in a tournament or individual game we want to always play our best."

Although the season doesn't officially start until Feb. 6, the players have been getting both physically and mentally ready for months.

"The thing about being an athlete is you always want to get better both personally and as a team so we never really stop training," said Diescher. "My goal this season is to improve my individual game and help my team win as much as I can."

As the start of the season approaches, both the coaching staff and the players are staying focused and keeping intensity levels up during training and using last year's upset for motivation.

"As a coach, our biggest thing is to put the team in the best position to succeed," said Lehotak. "We see great potential these players and want to make sure we're providing them with the proper training and confidence to play at their best."

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