April 2017 Archives

By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After 84 days of tough practices and even tougher competition out on the turf, just two more days and one more game remains on the regular season schedule for the Nittany Lions.
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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After 84 days of tough practices and even tougher competition out on the turf, just two more days and one more game remains on the regular season schedule for the Nittany Lions.

 

Penn State will take on Big Ten rival Michigan in Ann Arbor Saturday at 11 a.m., with the final whistle marking the end of the regular season and the beginning of postseason play.

 

The regular season has been one full of spoils for the Nittany Lions as they boast a 14-2 record and top-five national ranking, but the squad has not become content with the mere success of regulation. Looking at a team that has continually progressed further through the NCAA playoffs in each postseason, including a Final Four berth last May, the Blue and White are ready to make a run and end the season on the highest of note.

 

But before then, there's still work to do.

 

Head Coach Missy Doherty says while her squad is ready to make a splash in the postseason, there is still room to improve. The matchup with the Wolverines provides both a quality matchup against a conference opponent right before the gauntlet of the Big Ten Tournament as well as a chance to tune things up.


"It's our last chance to prove what kind of regular season we want to have," Doherty said. "Every Big Ten game is a huge game for us and Michigan's really no different. We're playing there on their senior day so it's going to be a tough test but we want to get better from the Maryland game and we're taking the opportunity to try to do that."

 

In terms of where the team can make adjustments, Doherty says they can always get better across the board. In order to be an all-around threat, the team needs to continue to progress on their biggest strengths on both the offensive and defensive end.

 

"I think it's just making strong individual defensive stops and being ready for the next thing the attacks bringing. I think we want to continue doing well on the draw because getting possession is key, and then make sure offensively everybody's ready to score. We don't want to just rely on a couple of people, we want to make sure we have plenty of threats offensively."

 

The only way the team gets better in its matchup with Ann Arbor is of course by giving its all. The postseason tournaments may be just around the bend, but a lack in focus can cripple teams with high hopes late in the year.

 

Doherty plans to squash any and all chances of her team to slack off in that department. With an arrival early Saturday morning onto the Michigan campus, the Blue and White's mindset will be on giving it their all with their attention directed towards nothing but what lies in front of them.

 

"I think just effort level," Doherty said on what the team needs to bring in their matchup with the Blue and Maize. "Whether it's on the draw whether it's on ground balls whether its pushing our brake, it's just giving that little bit of effort to make sure when we walk off the field we can tell ourselves we couldn't have done anything more.

 

With a maximized effort, Doherty says the team's current pedigree can take them far. When asked how to describe her squad in a single word, the coach chose one that is essential to all great squads.

 

"I would probably say consistent, and that's such a great thing," Doherty said. "I think we've had consistent effort through the season. There hasn't been any game where we haven't worked hard and we're hoping we can bring our consistent effort on Sunday."

 

If the Nittany Lions can stay consistent, continue their all-around effort and not forget to focus on what lies ahead, Penn State has a chance to have yet another prosperous postseason and can potentially finish the season on their own terms. Until then, Michigan lies ahead, and the team plans to make the most out of what is left of the regular season.

 

"I think our regular season has shown that we can be competitive with any team in the country," Doherty said. "You're never going to reach that point of perfection but every game throughout the season has been different. Every game has shown us little things we need to do better, but I think we're ready to compete in postseason. We're a team that's going to work hard and give everybody a game and we're kind of excited to see what's next."

Nittany Lions Set for NCAA Opener

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Catching up with Nittany Lion head coach Mark Pavlik ahead of the 2017 NCAA Tournament opening round.  

Nittany Lions Set for NCAA Opener

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As NCAA Tournament time arrives, sometimes it's about hitting your stride at the right time. For Penn State men's volleyball, the Nittany Lions have saved their best brand of volleyball for the exact right moment. 

Penn State is currently riding a three-game winning streak heading into the NCAA Tournament, with wins in six of their last seven outings. The Nittany Lions have certainly upped their game, but their success can also be attributed to a direct result of how healthy the team is right now.

"We have dealt with injuries all season and for the first time since maybe the beginning of the season we are healthy," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "It definitely contributes to how we are playing."

Fifth-seeded Penn State (21-10) is set to face one of the more well-rounded teams in the nation as they drew fourth-seeded Hawaii (26-5) out of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) in the opening round play-in game of the NCAA Tournament. With a win, the Nittany Lions will advance to the NCAA Tournament semifinals set to take on defending NCAA national champion Ohio State.

MVBHawaii.jpgPenn State is focused on the Rainbow Warriors though, as the two teams have been fairly regular postseason opponents. Most recently, Penn State and Hawaii met in the play-in round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament with the Nittany Lions coming away with a 3-1 win to advance to the semifinals in Palo Alto, California at Stanford.

Regardless of postseason familiarity among both squads, the Nittany Lions are armed with a healthy roster and ready to turn their focus toward the present, prepping for next Tuesday's matchup. 

"They serve the ball really well," Pavlik said. "All six of them come at you with jump serves. Not only do they jump serve speed-wise well, they hit the court, so you have to sideout yourself, they aren't going to hand you any stretches of missed serves." 

Penn State's serve receive has been a strong suit though, especially in the EIVA Tournament, as an area where both Pavlik and the team noted as a key reason behind the Nittany Lions hoisting the championship trophy. 

Hawaii also enters the matchup with an experienced setter on the court with All-MPSF First Team selection senior Jennings Franciskovic running the offense.

"Franciskovic does a really nice job getting the ball to his hot hitters," Pavlik said. "They have an opposite who they want to score with, they have a backup opposite, who is a lefty with a live arm too. They have two good outside hitters who can face any type of block, they aren't huge in any way shape or form, but they are good players."

The Nittany Lions will take the court at St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio Tuesday at 8 p.m. with an appearance in the NCAA semifinals on the line. To check out the full bracket, click HERE

Mentor Program Bringing Together Past and Present

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Once an idea, Penn State men's lacrosse's alumni mentor program is now thriving in just its first year.  

Mentor Program Bringing Together Past and Present

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The week of the Ohio State game in early April, Penn State men's lacrosse junior midfielder Ryan Keenan checked his email. "Play with an edge this week," read the text in his most recent email. It was from Joseph Staropoli, a former Penn State men's lacrosse student-athlete and Keenan's mentor.   

"Reading that was like, 'yes - we're playing Ohio State, we have to play with conviction, you're going to get your emotions up,' and knowing he was invested in how we worked through the week and not only the games, just shows how he knows what we're going through and what we're doing," Keenan said.

This academic year marks the first year head coach Jeff Tambroni, along with a board of Nittany Lion lacrosse alumni have implemented an alumni mentor program. In its current format, former Penn State men's lacrosse student-athletes get paired with a current Nittany Lion to guide them in handling all aspects of student-athlete life including internship searches or career path exploration.

The mentors often give feedback to their mentees regarding job interviews or help with cover letter and resume building. Mentors also provide networking assistance, connecting individuals in industries of interest, also serving as another outlet for student-athletes to seek advice.

Once an idea, the program is thriving in its first year, reaching sophomores, juniors, and seniors on the team. Next year's agenda even intends to expand to all classes. 

Although each Nittany Lion is paired with one mentor, since lacrosse is a relatively small community and many of the alumni either played together at Penn State or have crossed paths, it's common for several teammates and mentors to all become familiar faces.  

Sophomore midfielder Matt Donnelly said he and his mentor, Marty Coyle, see one another at games, but if Coyle can't make it he can count on other former players to always give him encouraging words of advice.

"When I first called my mentor it was just a typical introduction," Donnelly said. "He explained his experiences here, and basically he offered if I needed anything, roommates, something for school, something for lacrosse, he was all ears. He made it clear that he was someone who is here for me." 

Donnelly said it was very easy to connect with his mentor, noting that being from similar areas outside of Philadelphia, Coyle from Pennsylvania and Donnelly from southern New Jersey, gave both of them something instantly in common. 

"It was very easy to connect with him on breaks, Donnelly said. "I think that had a huge impact on why the coaching staff decided to pair me with him."

The coaching staff tries to pair the team with individuals who are located in similar areas, with similar career paths, or simply complimenting personalities.

Keenan and his mentor are both from Long Island, New York, but for Keenan, since they are both easygoing, it made the pairing a no-brainer. 

"He's just a great guy, it's awesome to have someone who really cares about how you're doing," Keenan said. "Someone just sending you a text or email saying good luck, or me calling him to talk, and sometimes seeing him after games, it's nice to have."

Donnelly and Keenan both said they speak to their mentors several times a week, especially during the season. Keenan said that Staropoli is very supportive, talking to him before and after games, always making the effort to provide uplifting words. 

"We also talk about everything outside of lacrosse as well," Keenan added. "He comes up a lot, he always comes to games. He's gotten to know my parents and sits with them during some of the games. It's pretty cool he's gotten to know not only me, but also my family." 

Penn State's mentor program isn't just a one-way street though. Several of the mentors themselves have said they've gained a lot from the experience. 

At the end of March, former Nittany Lions Rich Makover and Gary Martin, who both played for Penn State in the mid-80s and now serve as mentor program board members, came to Happy Valley to visit with the team. Together, they spoke with the team about how they have benefitted from the experience and where improvements can be made.

"The students have given us good feedback on what they want this program to provide for them," Martin said. "That's what we want as mentors."

Both Makover and Martin agreed that although the project was a little slow to get off the ground, they've seen the team excel both on and off the field because of the program in just the first year. 

"Really the stars of the show are the players, when you see them growing it's unbelievable," Makover said. "It's unbelievable to see the growth in their confidence and in their communication." 

Makover said that mentors often send emails or letters to one another bragging about their mentee and how they've done academically or on the field, noting that mentors keep up with not only the team's success, but individual athlete's successes too. 

Despite an age gap between mentors and mentees, the common bond of Penn State lacrosse bridges that gap and helps bring together decades of alumni with current student-athletes.

For Makover, he's thankful he has been a part of Penn State lacrosse not only as a student-athlete, but now an involved alumnus.

"I put a lot of time into this program, but I've gotten way more out of this than I put in, way more," Makover said. "This is highly rewarding for me personally. We all have busy jobs and busy lives but to really feel that you're giving back to something that, I believe I am who I am in large part because of playing lacrosse at Penn State, so to give back to that legacy is incredibly rewarding."
By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Finals may be approaching as the school year comes to a close, but it was a year to remember for the Penn State Lady Lions in the 2016-17 season. The squad experienced its first postseason play in three years with a WNIT berth and it also put up a stellar 14 wins at home including the postseason, the team's highest total since they tied that number in 2013-14.

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Finals may be approaching as the school year comes to a close, but it was a year of growth for the Penn State Lady Lions in the 2016-17 season. The squad experienced its first postseason play in three years with a WNIT berth and put up a school-record-tying 16 wins at home including the postseason, equaling the 2002-03 squad's total.

 

When looking back, head coach Coquese Washington said it was a good year and her favorite part was how the team continued to improve after each test the players faced.

 

"Over the course of the season, this team got a lot better," Washington said. "We were a better team in March than we were in November and that's a testament to the work they put in and their desire to be better, their desire to represent Penn State and represent this program at a high level."

 

At the heart of that constantly better unit was guard Teniya Page. Page, only a sophomore, was the team's undeniable leader on offense. She led the team in scoring with 618 total points on 44.5 percent shooting from the field and 44.1 percent from behind the 3-point line. Her ability to take over games was a huge benefit as her four 30-point outings propelled her to fourth all-time in the Penn State career rankings with five total. Her point total was the ninth-highest ever recorded by a Penn Stater in a single season, while her average of 19.9 points per game allowed her to claim the seventh-highest such average in program history.

 

These accomplishments did not go unnoticed, as Page was named an All-American honorable mention by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). With the bestowment, Page joined Kelly Mazzante as the only other Lady Lion to accomplish the feat as a sophomore.

 

Page, along with fellow guard Amari Carter, are expected to set the tone for the returning squad this upcoming season. Not only did the two set the tempo each and every game, but they were No. 1 and 2 on the team in assists and shared an incredible chemistry that Washington said words can't describe.

 

"They kind of have a secret language, a secret guard language, and they would have full conversations without ever saying a word," Washington said. "I think that chemistry is just going to make them that much more dangerous next year."

 

The talented guard duo, along with the rest of the young roster, will have to fill the shoes of a veteran trio in Peyton Whitted, Sierra Moore and Kaliyah Mitchell whose careers in Happy Valley have reached a close.

 

The three contributed in large amounts and leave gaps to fill across the board. Together, they combined for 23.3 point per game, 16.4 rebounds per game and averaged 1.3 blocks per game last season. Still, while it may be tough to see the seniors go, coach Washington says she is more proud of them than anything.

 

"I don't think you ever feel hurt to see the seniors go, it's more you're like a proud mother," Washington said. "They're 17-18 years old [when they arrive] and then they leave and they're young women. You look at how much they've grown, you look at how prepared they are to go out into the world and make a difference, and so I'm excited for them, I'm excited for their futures."

 

As summer approaches, Penn State will enjoy the summer while it can, but it won't be long before it's time to get back in the gym and start working towards an even better season in 2017-18. Next year shows a lot of promise with the number of returners and experienced young talent, but only time will tell what the squad will do once it steps back under the lights of the Bryce Jordan Center.

Balance Propels Penn State to Victory

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Eight different Nittany Lions recorded hits with seven scoring at least one run in Penn State's 9-2 victory against Lafayette Wednesday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.  

Balance Propels Penn State to Victory

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Eight different Nittany Lions recorded hits with seven scoring at least one run in Penn State's 9-2 victory against Lafayette Wednesday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.


The win was a sheer clinic in balance from top to bottom of the roster, as four Lions recorded multi-hit games with four pitchers combining to allow just two runs.


Penn State tallied 12 hits in the game with its nine runs marking the most for the Blue and White since scoring 10 runs in a win over Columbia March 25.


"We came into the game ready to go from the get go," Nick Riotto said. "Once we got a few, we weren't going to be satisfied. We just kept putting together quality at-bats and kept it going one through nine."


Freshman Mason Nadeau slugged his first career home run in the sixth inning on a two-run shot to right field. 


"It was pretty awesome," Nadeau said. "I actually wasn't entirely sure if it was going to go out at first, but I knew I barreled it up pretty well, so seeing it hit the bleachers was a really good feeling."


Nadeau went 2-4 in the game, scoring two runs and tallying two RBIs from the leadoff spot. He also anchored the defense with a few running catches in the gaps to save extra base hits from centerfield. Head coach Rob Cooper said a few days ago he would like to see Nadeau improve as a fielder, but he looked extremely comfortable in center Wednesday night.


"[Defense] is the one thing that I always try to keep constant and at a high level because it's something I can kind of rely on when the bat's not going as well," Nadeau said.


Nadeau has been on an absolute tear since returning from an injury April 18 against Pittsburgh. In five games, Nadeau is 8-15 (.533) with four runs scored and five walks since his return to the lineup.


Nadeau owns the highest batting average (.365) on the team this season. He has missed 21 games in 2017, but his presence back in the lineup has helped Penn State snap a six-game skid and win two straight.


"He's a workhorse," pitching coach Brian Anderson said. "He's super energetic. He's a little pack of dynamite. He can swing the bat pretty darn aggressively and he can used the whole field. When he barrels up the baseball odds are it's going to be hit somewhere pretty good."


Riotto, Conlin Hughes and Alex Malinsky joined Nadeau with multi-hit games in the contest. Riotto led Penn State in the game with three RBIs. 


The only Penn State starter who failed to record a hit was second baseman Christian Helsel, but even he scored a run in the game after he was hit by a pitch in the first inning. The Lions broke the game open early with four runs in the first.


Hughes started the scoring with an RBI single to score Nadeau. Riotto then hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Helsel.


With two outs, Hughes and Willie Burger displayed incredible hustle by both scoring on a dropped pop fly by the pitcher with two outs in the inning.


Schuyler Bates started on the mound for the fifth time this season and recorded his second win. The junior tossed five innings and allowed two runs on five hits against the Leopards. 


The win was Bates' first since March 29 against Cornell in which he posted five innings without allowing a run. Bates owns a 4.15 ERA in 13 appearances this season. He only pitched in five total games in his first two seasons combined.


"He's taking every advantage to be a Tuesday or Wednesday guy for us and he's running with it," Anderson said. "He actually helps and assists us for our bullpen for our Friday, Saturday series and that's huge."


Three pitchers relieved Bates and didn't surrender a run in the final four innings. Dakota Forsyth replaced Bates in the sixth inning and tossed two scoreless innings while allowing just two hits. 


Taylor Lehman then took over in the eighth inning and was relieved in the middle of the ninth by Nick Distasio, who closed the game out.

By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Most people know the Penn Relays (or Carnival) as the oldest and largest track and field meet in the United States, but for most athletes, including the Penn Staters that will be competing their this week, it's the most fun meet to compete at.

By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Most people know the Penn Relays (or Carnival) as the oldest and largest track and field meet in the United States, but for most athletes, including the Penn Staters that will be competing their this week, it's the most fun meet to compete at.

 

Junior high jumper Megan McCloskey has been competing at the Penn Relays for twelve years now, starting when she was in fourth grade. Competing at this widely attended track meet has made it one of her favorites to go to.

 

"I think it's just such a special meet because it's one of the only times in the year that a track meet turns into a carnival as they say," said McCloskey. "It's not often that you can fill the stands to watch a track meet, which is exciting."

 

McCloskey has made many memories over the past decade competing at this meet, but hopes that this year's meet with add a new memory of winning another Penn Relays medal or even a Penn Relays gold watch. When winning a college individual event at the Carnival, athletes receive a gold watch rather than a gold medal.

 

Junior sprinter Xavier Smith was familiar with the Penn Relays before competing as a Nittany Lion as well. Smith competed with his high school during his junior and senior year and got to experience the fun of seeing all the different teams compete.

 

"Going there, it was very different than your average high school meet or your average invitational. You have the Jamaican section, the American section going crazy in the big stands there. It was just a great environment," said Smith.

 

On the coaching end of competing at Penn Relays, Associate Head Coach Erin Tucker says it's no different than training for a regular outdoor meet. The women compete on Thursday, so they have one less day to prep than men, but for the athletes it really doesn't differ as far as regular pre-meet training.

 

"Penn Relays is just another track meet that we have to prepare for," said Tucker.

 

Tucker views the Penn Relays as a prep meet for their bigger meets coming in the future.

 

"In my mind, I look at five track meets that are really important every year: The Indoor Nationals and Indoor Conference meet, the Outdoor Nationals, the Outdoor First-Round Meet and the Conference Meet. Other than that, every other track meet we go to is about having fun and is about prepping for those five meets," said Tucker.

 

The Nittany Lions will compete at the Penn Relays starting Thursday, April 27 and will continue competing throughout the weekend. 

By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State dropped its final Wednesday night doubleheader of the season when it fell to Saint Francis 2-0 and 1-0.

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By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State dropped its final Wednesday night doubleheader of the season when it fell to Saint Francis 2-0 and 1-0.

Senior Marley Laubach and sophomore Madison Shaffer got the starting nods on the mound, both pitching a complete game. Shaffer had four strikeouts and only two batters walked in eight innings in game two. 

"I thought she pitched good enough to win," said head coach Amanda Lehotak. "I thought she was competitive, she did a great job, her changeup was unstoppable tonight and I'm very proud of her."

Shaffer didn't want to take all the credit in game two, and pushed the accolades off to the rest of her teammates who all had strong defensive games. 

"Tonight the defense played phenomenal as a whole," Shaffer said. "They made some really awesome plays and that really helps me have confidence in myself when I know that they're on and making awesome plays." 

The Nittany Lions were able to hold the Red Flash to minimal runs in both games thanks to outstanding play from all three outfielders. 

Tori Dubois, Rebecca Ziegler and Sam Shanahan, playing left field, center field and right field, respectively, were all strong on defense. And it wasn't particularly easy in game one; with a 5 p.m. start time, the outfielders fell victim to a setting sun in Happy Valley, with the glare in their eyes the entire game. 

Ziegler had the most impressive catch of the game amongst the three, saving a hit in the top of the second when Saint Francis' Halle Marion hit a fly ball to left center field. Ziegler ran a good amount before making the diving catch to end the inning. 

"Our outfield has really come on strong the past two weeks and they've really helped keep us in games," Lehotak said. "There's a coaching saying that 'you're only as good as your outfield' and I think that's very true, you have to have a good outfield to be above average and they've been doing a phenomenal job." 

The Nittany Lions had to completely rebuild the outfield this season after losing veterans Macy Jones, Lexi Knief and Erin Pond to graduation. Lehotak took on that daunting task and found her replacements, all of who have so far filled in the holes well. 

The outfield has been a stalwart in nearly every game this season. Dubois and Ziegler aren't afraid to get down and dirty, constantly putting their bodies on the line to make seemingly improbable catches.

Penn State hits the road for a three game series against Maryland this weekend. Start times are 5 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- For senior Emma Sibson, during the 2017 NCAA Regionals, her main focus was not about earning the highest score. She was simply happy to have one final opportunity to compete in gymnastics as a Nittany Lion.

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By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer    
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Every year, the NCAA Regionals is an opportunity for collegiate women's gymnastics team to compete and try to advance to the national championships. This is also the time for collegiate gymnasts, who have been training day-in and day-out for their entire lives, to make a statement on each event, in order to fight for a chance to compete at nationals.

But for senior Emma Sibson, during the 2017 NCAA Regionals, her main focus was not about earning the highest score. She was simply happy to have one final opportunity to compete in gymnastics as a Nittany Lion.

Sibson was diagnosed with lupus on January 9, 2017, just two days after the Penn State's women's gymnastics team's first competition of the season, a victory in a quad meet against Bowling Green, BYU and Temple. It was the first appearance for Sibson since February 6, 2016, during her junior season. In her return, Sibson competed on vault and earned a score of 9.725. 

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when a person's immune system attacks his or her own tissues, organs, joints or skin. The autoantibodies that attack and destroy the healthy tissue can cause inflammation, pain and damage in various parts of the body. The most common signs of lupus include: fatigue and fever, joint pain and stiffness, butterfly-shaped rash on the face, chest pain, and shortness of breath. 

During her junior year (2015-16), the Allen, Texas native experienced rashes and fatigue and some of her hair started to fall out. Doctors tested her thyroid and they put her on thyroid medication, but that wasn't the problem. 

"In March of junior year, I started having Raynaud's disease, [disorder where some areas of the body, like hands or feet, turn white and go numb, in response to cold temperatures or stress], hives, rashes, severe fatigue, and mouth and tongue ulcers," Sibson said. 

In March 2016, Sibson's mother, who is a nurse, was the first person that suggested lupus after she received a picture of a butterfly-shaped rash on her daughter's face. 

This past fall, she was tested for food allergies and her results came back positive for most of the foods she ate in her everyday diet. She also began to get fevers and her joints started to ache. 

"Sometimes, I felt I could not walk up a flight of stairs," Sibson said.

Her mother came to the conclusion in December 2016 that Sibson needed to be checked for autoimmune disorders and the results came back positive for lupus. 

"My first reaction was that at least I now know exactly what is wrong with me," Sibson said. "I went to see a rheumatologist in January who confirmed the diagnosis. He started me on medications to treat the flares that I had been having for quite some time." 

Sibson was relieved to have confirmation of her condition. Her initial concern was not about getting better though; she was worried about not being able to compete in gymnastics in her final season.

 Her doctor gave her the go-ahead to continue practicing gymnastics as long as she felt okay. The coaches also made sure she was well rested in between events. Sibson returned to the line-up on February 4 against Michigan State to compete on vault and she finished in second with a season-best score of 9.850.

However, a week later, during the Ohio State meet, Sibson started to feel severe chest pain after the floor routine and knew there was more to her condition.

"I saw the cardiologist who diagnosed pericarditis [a swelling and irritation of the thin sac-like membrane surrounding the heart], associated with my lupus," Sibson said. "They put me on more medicine and said I could not do anything until I had a stress test. After the test, I was told I could not do anything that elevated my heart rate."

It appeared Sibson was out for the rest of the season. She was not able to compete in five meets, including the senior meet against Pittsburgh, the B1G Five Qualifier and the Big Ten Championships.  

"I wasn't healthy enough to compete, but I think you can never have enough people on the sidelines, cheering you on or helping you out," Sibson said. "I was very grateful that I was healthy enough to still travel, participate and be able to cheer on the girls."

This was her senior season, though. She didn't want her gymnastics career to end. She wanted to have a chance to demonstrate her gymnastics skills one final time. 

"They didn't think I would be able to return, but surprisingly, I competed in vault [at the NCAA Regionals]," Sibson said. "It was very exciting [to find out I was able to compete]. I called the cardiologist on my own. I told him I had been feeling better, no chest pain. I just asked, 'Can I please just compete? This meet? Just on vault?', and he said I could with the stipulation that I was monitored closely and promised that I would stop if I had any chest pain. I had just a few practices to get back into shape enough to vault, but that was enough for me."

After consulting with coaches Kera Molinaro and Josh Nilson, at the NCAA Gainesville Regional on April 1, Sibson tied for 11th on vault with a 9.825 in front of 5,214 fans.

"She thought that she was going to be done with the sport, and to have a second chance, which was amazing for her diagnosis, she was really excited about the opportunity," Molinaro said.  

Sibson was extremely grateful for the opportunity, but she officially knew that it would be her last competitive meet.

"The day after arriving back from regionals, I was in the emergency room with severe chest pain, but it was different than the one with my heart," Sibson said. "I now have pleurisy (inflammation of the tissues that line the lungs and chest cavity), which is also associated with lupus, and was started on steroids. Three days later, I had a kidney biopsy which shows that lupus has caused inflammation in my kidneys, so I was started on a medicine that will suppress my immune system." 

The senior is recovering and feeling better after getting her recent medications. She is focusing on the last couple of weeks of school, trying to catch up on work and hoping there are no setbacks for graduation.

"Personally, I do not think you ever truly adapt to having lupus," Sibson said. "It is something you will fight your entire life. Some days, you might even forget you have lupus, and some days will be the harder days when you might spend up to a week in the hospital or adding another medication to your already numerous prescription pills in one day. I think that's the scariest thing. You never know what the next day has in store for you when living with lupus. I think that is something you will never truly adapt to." 

Ever since starting gymnastics when she was four years old, Sibson has practiced with Olympians like Nastia Liukin, competed on a collegiate team, earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice, captured numerous event titles, and much more.

"I've had so many [memories]," Sibson said. "I think just having the opportunity to compete for a collegiate team and Penn State is the best. It's an amazing school, and although it's so big, it's like one big family. In general, my time here has been an amazing experience."

 After graduation, her main goal is to regulate medications and get better. She is also excited to be getting a puppy, and one day, she hopes to become a collegiate gymnastics coach. Nonetheless, she wants everyone to understand and spread awareness about lupus. 

"What I want people to know from my story is that lupus is a real disease and can be debilitating during a flare," Sibson said. "I wish that everyone who has symptoms seeks out the care they need. Do not let someone dismiss your symptoms. To those who have family, friends, teammates or co-workers with lupus, try to be supportive and understanding.  Suggesting they would make up these symptoms to get out of work, school or normal life is plain ridiculous. Remember they can be "healthy" and then without much warning be in a flare causing a wide variety of symptoms. For those with Lupus, especially young people, get up and get going every day. Sometimes, it is really hard, I know, but [it's possible]."

May is Lupus Awareness Month, and though treatment for the symptoms have improved, there is no known cure for lupus.

To learn more about lupus or to donate to help find a cure, visit the website for the Lupus Foundation of America.

Giavedoni Making an Impact

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State's Braxton Giavedoni making an impact as one of the most consistent Nittany Lion hitters in his first season.  

Giavedoni Making an Impact

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com student feature writer

UNIVERSITY PARK - The first year on a collegiate baseball team is often difficult for any freshman. It's a new field, new coach and new teammates. When given an in-game opportunity, it's easy for any first-year student-athlete to pressure himself to prove his worth to his team and coach, but for freshman Braxton Giavedoni, he thrives in the spotlight. 

"I just have confidence," Giavedoni said. "I have confidence in my ability. My dad always preached to have confidence and with confidence, I just feel like I can achieve anything."

Sunday evening, Giavedoni was in a situation that nearly every young baseball player envisions in the back yard with a wiffle bat in his hands. It was the bottom of the ninth, one out, bases loaded with the game tied at one. Giavedoni was ready for the first pitch fastball and drove it into left field to win the game.  

The freshman has been one of the team's most consistent hitters all season. With appearances in 33 of the 39 games so far, he has batted .274 with 12 RBIs, leading the team in doubles (8) and launching three home runs.

Not only is Giavedoni a newcomer who plays like a veteran, but he is also a walk-on who did not officially make the team until the fall 2016 semester began.  

"I think he is an example of college baseball because you're only allowed a certain number of scholarships," Penn State head coach Rob Cooper said. "On a roster of 35, which is what we have, only 27 of them can be on scholarship. So, you're going to have eight kids who are walk-on kids and you've got to find a walk-on or two that will help you win games. That's why when we make our lineups we don't make them based on scholarship money." 

Although Giavedoni has worked to be a member of this team, the freshman did not always know he wanted to play baseball in college. Growing up, he never even thought of playing sports after high school until he realized how much he loved football.

"It's definitely harder to prove yourself as a walk-on," Giavedoni said. "But the guys and coaches still treat me the same. I just have to go out there and do what everyone else does and I am fine as long as I play my game." 

Giavedoni played two years of high school football and set the school's single-season records for touchdown receptions and total receiving yards. Just when his passion for football escalated, Giavedoni suffered a hip injury and a few concussions that pushed him to focus more on baseball than football.

While he may not have known he wanted to play a sport in college until later in life, he knew from the time he was five years old that he was going to be a Nittany Lion. With his mother, two uncles and aunt all Penn State graduates, he visited campus all throughout his childhood. Giavedoni knew he wanted to carry on the Nittany Lion legacy. 

No matter how many times one visits a campus, it can be a struggle adjusting to a new home and meeting new people as a freshman. Giavedoni already had a familiar face on his baseball team though, as he and catcher Ryan Sloniger grew up playing youth baseball together all the way through high school.

Now, the two are both back together at Penn State.

"It was nice having Sloniger here because he could show me around places," Giavedoni said. "[Sloniger] always offered to give me rides and go get food and he introduced me to the guys, so that was definitely really nice."

Now, the walk-on freshman who was projected to be the fifth-best outfielder for Penn State heading into the season is now a starting right-fielder batting in the top half of the lineup. 

"I mean I did know deep down inside of me that I could be a cleanup hitter on a division one baseball team," Giavedoni said. "I knew how good of a player I was. I didn't know that as a freshman I would have made this much of an impact, but as I went on I thought I would make a big impact on the program. "

"He's done a great job," Cooper said. "He has zero fear. He's not worried about what other people are thinking about, he just loves to play baseball. I think when you have that underlying theme of 'I love to play baseball,' then good things could happen."

Scholly Proves To Be Ultimate Team Player

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com student feature writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.  - Children often look up to the larger-than-life athletes playing in front of the big crowds under the bright lights. Tim Scholly attended all Penn State sporting events and remembers admiring the Nittany Lions on the Penn State football field when he was just four or five years old. 

However, Scholly had a closer relationship to these athletes than the other kids in the crowd who were admiring those athletes in blue and white. As a State College native, these student-athletes would visit Scholly's schools and he would see them at local fairs. Seeing the impact they had on the community only made Scholly want to be a Penn State athlete.

Being from State College, some may think that Penn State would be too close for Scholly to go to school and feel like he is away at college, however that was never a deterrent for the senior pitcher. 

"I never thought it was too close," Scholly said. "I always looked at it as a dream school." 

With University Park in his backyard, the young Scholly began his baseball career at four years old playing with a ball in his driveway with the ultimate goal of playing for the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley. As he grew older, Scholly realized he enjoyed having the ball in his hand and being in control of the game on the mound. At the age group where coaches no longer pitch and the players finally take the mound, Scholly started his pitching career. 

Not only does a potential Penn Stater from State College have to worry about the proximity to home, but Penn State head coach Rob Cooper says there is much more to think about when recruiting local athletes.

"The thing you have to remember when you recruit a State College kid is they have to be able to fit in here athletically and it just has to be a good fit for them with the community," Cooper said. "If a local kid comes here everybody wants to see him do well. If it's not a good fit for them, then it could be a tough situation. Now if you have a guy like Tim Scholly, who is as good of a person and young man as I have ever been around and probably the ultimate team person, he's the perfect fit. He gets what the University is about. It's something he takes a lot of pride in. I am just really fortunate that I have had the opportunity to coach him."

Many students at Penn State have blue and white in their blood coming from a long line of Penn Staters. Even though Scholly lived right down the road from campus, he was the first person in his family to attend Penn State.

Scholly's dream came true when he earned his spot on the Penn State baseball roster, but his journey did not go as planned. After completing his freshman season, the then-sophomore started to have pain in his throwing arm.

"I remember when he came and told me he needed his arm looked at, he was emotional about it," Cooper said. "I mean I was emotional too because this is a kid who bleeds blue and white."

After getting his arm checked, Scholly learned he would have to miss the complete 2015 season.

"It was one of the hardest years of my life," Scholly said. "You always want to be out on the field and be throwing. You just have to stay patient and know if you work hard enough that you can eventually come back. Nothing is guaranteed. I sort of had to learn to take a step in the background, but I still tried to make an impact in any way possible while trying to get back for the next season."

Being forced to take a step back taught Scholly not only how to be patient, but how to be the ultimate team player. As just a sophomore, Scholly became one of the biggest leaders of his team and to Cooper, "another coach in the dugout." 

Cooper says Scholly's baseball IQ sets him apart from everyone else and allows him to help his teammates whenever they need any help on or off the field.

This role that Scholly fell into during his sophomore season became a part of his character. As a senior, Scholly still fills the role of assisting others both on and off the field and is the prime example of being a hardworking player.

"Whether it's trying to help someone who is a senior as well or whether it's a first-year player, he's a huge asset," Cooper said. "It's one thing for guys to help other guys, but when they respect them because they look at a guy like Tim Scholly who does everything you ask him to do and is so sincere when he does it, it's so hard not to want to follow what he says. It's not just that he's a senior and he's helping with that stuff, it's the respect he demands from his teammates that allows people to really want him to be a leader."

Because of the long road back from his injury two years ago, the senior has not seen much time on the mound. This season, Scholly has made four game appearances, which is the most he has had in a single collegiate season. What Scholly has learned during his time at Penn State though, is that he is capable of bringing so much to a team even if he is not able to be on the mound.

"Obviously, I love being on the mound," Scholly said. "We've definitely have had some bumps and bruises along the way, but you have to keep a positive mindset. I'd much rather have team success than individual success. So, if I have to go out there to help the team on the mound, I'm willing to do that. But, if I have to help the team in the dugout and try to get us motivated and help the team off the field, I definitely willing to do that as well."

When Scholly graduates at the end of the season, Cooper said the thing the team will miss the most is his sacrifice.

"The selflessness that he brings everyday will be missed," Cooper said. "I know he wants to pitch more, but his attitude is always upbeat. It's hard to do that. Some kids will just focus on wanting to pitch more, but Tim Scholly has a sincere impact on this team. You don't get someone every day who truly cares about the team more than their own benefit. I think that selflessness and commitment to doing whatever he can to help the team is something that this team is definitely going to miss."

Arceri Guides Lions Back on Track

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Freshman Gerard Arceri helps Penn State to a senior day win and a spot in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament with a standout performance from the faceoff 'x.'  

Arceri Guides Lions Back on Track

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a pair of difficult losses on the road, Penn State men's lacrosse (11-2, 2-2 Big Ten) bounced back to defeat Rutgers (9-4, 1-3 Big Ten) on senior day Sunday.

For head coach Jeff Tambroni, the 13-7 victory was the result of a hard week of practice and a focus on ground ball play.

"I thought the biggest thing was just effort," Tambroni said. "I thought our guys played with a lot of conviction today and it was just fun to watch. The last couple of weekends we just didn't give ourselves a chance in the middle of the field and we lost possessions, and it wasn't necessarily because of the faceoff 'x' it was just because of the way we were battling for ground balls."

In previous weeks, Tambroni has noted the Nittany Lions have needed to step up ground ball production but haven't been able to get the numbers he'd like. Against Rutgers, the Nittany Lions were able to turn that around, picking up 31 of 55 ground balls on the night. 

Senior attackman and captain Nick Aponte said this week's practices were heavy on ground ball drills and that the team relentlessly practiced them day in and day out, knowing they needed to step up their competitiveness against the Scarlet Knights.

"We've just got to practice like we're going to play on game day every single day, and it'll show on game day like it did today," Aponte said.

Aside from ground ball improvements, Tambroni admired freshman faceoff specialist Gerard Arceri for bringing his 'a' game to Sunday's matchup, bouncing back from a tough conference battle last week at Johns Hopkins.

"Gerard was spectacular tonight," Tambroni said. "He certainly set the tone and then he was complimented by the wing play. I thought Tommy Wright really stood out tonight, he was one guy I thought stood out in terms of making simple plays throughout the course of the evening and making a lot of tough plays."

Arceri said he felt the strong effort from his teammates, especially Wright, in addition to other wing players, freshman Nick McEvoy, junior Tripp Traynor, and sophomore Kevin Fox. For Arceri, his own strong performance against Rutgers only help his confidence headed toward the next few games including the Big Ten Tournament, since faceoffs are such a mental aspect of the game.

"These past two weeks have been a learning experience for me, just having those rough days in the faceoff 'x' but I think it's all just really going to come to a point now so I'm really glad it all worked out," Arceri said. 

As for senior day, Aponte was happy he could help his fellow seniors to victory, but since there are more games guaranteed in the postseason, there's still much to look forward to.

"It's awesome, it's a great feeling just doing it on senior day too and seeing the whole team come together and play for the seniors was great," Aponte said. "We've just got to keep this going and we have to remember what we did to prepare for this game because we need to play like this for every single game for the rest on, and hopefully we can get back and play another home game in the first round of playoffs."
By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was a great week for head coach Amanda Lehotak's Penn State softball team. After going 4-1 this week, the Nittany Lions improved to 20-26 overall, and 6-11 in Big Ten conference play. It all started with a doubleheader sweep of Bucknell on Wednesday, and the squad carried that momentum into the weekend, taking two of three games from the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Blue and White Weekend.

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By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was a great week for head coach Amanda Lehotak's Penn State softball team.  After going 4-1 this week, the Nittany Lions improved to 20-26 overall, and 6-11 in Big Ten conference play.  It all started with a doubleheader sweep of Bucknell on Wednesday, and the squad carried that momentum into the weekend, taking two of three games from the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Blue and White Weekend.

 

Marlaina Laubach has become "old reliable" for Lehotak, tossing another complete game shutout in game one against Bucknell, something that has become the norm for the senior ace.  But it was a redshirt sophomore who stole the show all week long.  Rebecca Ziegler has certainly gained the respect of her coach. 

 

"I don't know [if there's anything she can't do], and I don't want to find out," said Lehotak with a smile.

 

"Hopefully she keeps doing what she's doing.  She had a great weekend and she's been building and being consistent, getting better and better every week, and I think she's really starting to get a deep understanding of the game... I'm very happy with Ziegler," added Lehotak.

 

Ziegler was the hero in game two against Bucknell Wednesday, driving in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning with a single through the infield and going 3-4 in the game.  That was only the beginning for Ziegler's heroic week.  In game one of the weekend series against Rutgers, Ziegler blasted a rocket over the wall in dead centerfield to cut her team's deficit to just one run.  She would go on to hit a triple in what would be a come-from-behind win, with the exclamation point put on by a Tori Dubois walk-off home run.  After the game, Ziegler reflected on her solid performance at the dish.

 

"I just felt more in my zone, felt more relaxed.  As long as I stay composed and stay within myself, that's when I get it done," said Ziegler. 

 

Lehotak realizes she is fortunate to be able to have such a weapon batting leadoff.

 

"I think the leadoff spot in an offensive lineup is one of the most important parts so if you can have somebody that's a triple threat like her, speed, slap, hit a home run, hit doubles, she's just hard to defend," said Lehotak. 

 

Saturday's game was the least dramatic, with Penn State cruising to a 7-0 victory during a busy day for Penn State athletics.  Jessica Cummings did her best Marlaina Laubach impression, hurling a complete game shutout.

 

On Sunday, Ziegler decided she wanted to take home our player of the game honors for the second time this week, settling in in all facets of the game.  Ziegler doubled over the head of the centerfielder in the second inning, ripped an RBI single in the fourth inning to put the Nittany Lions up 3-1, and made a phenomenal defensive play. 

 

With a 4-2 lead in the top of the sixth inning, a Rutgers single looked like it would score a run.  Ziegler had other ideas.  Ziegler fielded the hit and fired from centerfield, throwing a laser right to catcher Mia Monopoli to gun down the potential crucial run.

 

Lehotak and her staff have really taken notice of the team's vastly improved play lately. 

 

"I've told them a few times this year that they've impressed me in a lot of different areas, and their fight and their belief in one another is the most amazing thing that I've seen," said Lehotak.

 

That fight has allowed the Blue and White to be able to hit Lehotak's goal of winning each week, something they will try and repeat as the Big Ten tournament looms. 

"We won the week.  It's what we wanted to do, and tomorrow starts a new week.  It's all about winning next week," said Lehotak. 

 

Saint Francis University comes to town Wednesday night for an out of conference doubleheader beginning at 5 pm.  Then, the club hits the road and travels to College Park for a three-game stint against Maryland, who is 2-12 in conference play this season with an overall record of 9-32-1.  If Penn State can get the sweep, they can get closer to .500 in conference play this season, which would lift them to the upper half of the conference standings with just one more regular season series before the Big Ten conference tournament.  

Giavedoni Highlights Home Series

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- With all of the excitement surrounding a busy Blue White weekend in Happy Valley, Sunday clearly belonged to Penn State's walk-on right fielder Braxton Giavedoni.  

Giavedoni Highlights Home Series

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With all of the excitement surrounding a busy Blue White weekend in Happy Valley, Sunday clearly belonged to Penn State's walk-on right fielder Braxton Giavedoni.

 

The freshman finished off a festive weekend in style with a walk-off single in the series finale against Northwestern to give Penn State the 2-1 win, snapping a six-game losing streak.

 

"It was nice to see all my teammates and all my friends come out and celebrate it with me," Giavedoni said. "It was really fun."

 

Giavedoni ripped the first pitch he saw from lefty Sam Lawrence into left field with one out in the ninth inning to score Logan Goodnight from third base. Giavedoni said he was sitting fastball all the way, and that's exactly what he got.

 

"I didn't think he would throw me a fastball first pitch, but he did and I was ready for it and drove it," Giavedoni said.

 

Head coach Rob Cooper praised Giavedoni afterward for his ability to bounce back from an early blunder in the game.

 

In the first inning Giavedoni stepped to bat with no outs and runners on first and second. He fouled off two sacrifice bunt attempts, then grounded into a double play and Penn State was unable to score a run in the inning.

 

"Here's a young guy that wants to do well for his teammates, and he doesn't get it done," Cooper said. "Now you're at a point where you come in the dugout and he can go one of two ways: he can let it bother him the rest of the game or he can recover and deal with it short term, and that's what he did. It just shows you that he's a little bit further advanced with handling that emotional maturity."

 

Giavedoni has played in all but three games this season and owns the second-best batting average (.274) on the team of players who have played at least 20 games.

 

"Braxton's done a really good job as a freshman for us," Cooper said. "This is a kid that has really had to make his own way here, and you really root for those kids."

 

On the mound, Eric Mock was nearly perfect besides one pitch.

 

Mock left a fastball over the plate to Wildcats' power hitter Joe Hoscheit in a 3-0 count in the sixth inning and Hoscheit pounded it over the left field wall. The homerun was just the second hit allowed by Mock all game and the only run surrendered by the redshirt freshman.

 

Even with the homerun, Mock put together his strongest outing of his young career. He took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before allowing the first Northwestern hit with two outs in the inning.

 

Mock tossed a career-high six innings in his fourth start of the season while striking out five batters and walking two. He lowered his season ERA by more than a run to 5.83 with the performance.

 

Mock said he struggled early getting his slider over for a strike but felt the best he has all season.

 

"It was a battle," Mock said. "I just tried to continue to throw strikes. I stuck with it, and when you can throw strikes you're going to get guys out."

 

Nick Distasio relieved Mock to start the seventh and pitched three scoreless innings. The two pitchers combined to allow just three hits in the game.

 

Mock received strong defense behind him all game, as the Lions didn't commit an error while he was on the mound. They committed nine errors over the first two games of the series.

 

In the fourth inning, Willie Burger made a full-stretched, diving play to his right and flipped to Mock at first base to rob Northwestern of a single to start the frame. Conlin Hughes also made two impressive snares and throws from shortstop on short hops in the first four innings.

 

Giavedoni and Nick Riotto made beautiful plays in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, to keep the leadoff hitter in each inning from reaching base.

 

"They were awesome," Mock said. "It's such a difference when you know that you have your defense behind you. It definitely helps you with your confidence."

 

Cooper said after the game that he's incredibly proud of his team for fighting through adversity.

 

"You can't win a game like that after what's been going on if you don't have kids that care and are trying, so I'm really proud of their effort, and we needed a win and found a way to get one," Cooper said.

The Mason Nadeau Effect

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- In limited playing time Mason Nadeau, has been one of the most consistent hitters in the lineup. He owns a team-best .357 batting average and has scored 11 runs in 18 games played while striking out just seven times in 56 at-bats.  
By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On a chilly Blue and White Saturday, the Nittany Lions handily beat the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 7-0 on Saturday to win their second Big Ten series of the season. The win comes after an extra inning scare on Friday night when the Lions won on a walk-off in the eighth. Here are some takeaways from the Big Ten victory.

The Mason Nadeau Effect

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Mason Nadeau effect has been a prevalent force for Penn State in 2017.

 

In limited playing time Nadeau, has been one of the most consistent hitters in the Nittany Lion lineup. He owns a team-best .357 batting average and has scored 11 runs in 18 games played while striking out just seven times in 56 at-bats.

 

Nadeau has recorded at least one hit in every game but two, since going hitless in the team's opening three-game series against TCU. He has six multi-hit games this season.

 

Nadeau suffered an injury in late March that kept him out of the lineup for 21 games, and Penn State struggled without him.

 

The Lions averaged 3.43 runs per game in his absence and went 5-16 in that stretch. Penn State averages 4.71 runs per game when Nadeau starts and owns a 7-10 record in those games.

 

"He gets on, and then when he gets on he can run a little bit," head coach Rob Cooper said. "He works counts, he can hit to all sides [of the field], which makes it really tough for the defense to shift him one way or the other. It's nice to be able to get him on."

 

Nadeau recently returned from his injury Tuesday in a home game against Pittsburgh, picking up right where he left off. The freshman outfielder notched a hit in two at-bats and added an RBI in his first game back on the diamond in almost a month.

 

"It was the best feeling in the world," Nadeau said. "Baseball can bring me to a different place, so when I'm out there everything's gone. Being able to come back is awesome."

 

Nadeau also recorded a hit in Friday's series opener against Northwestern and cracked three more in Saturday's contest. Penn State lost the three games, but Nadeau's return is encouraging, especially with all the injuries plaguing the team this season.

 

"That's kind of what he was doing right before he got hurt," Cooper said. "It's good to see him jump back in. I'm excited about his career and what he's got future-wise here."

 

Nadeau said he's seeing the ball extremely well since coming back from injury.

 

"I feel like my approach is just right where I want it to be," Nadeau said. "I feel like I'm doing well. I came back strong and took [batting practice] seriously, so I didn't really skip any beats."

 

Nadeau's return came at a near perfect time, as starting centerfielder Jordan Bowersox was recently bitten by the injury bug and has missed the last five games.

 

"I wish I was out there with him because I thought the two of us early in the season worked really well together in center and right, but I guess it's kind of opportune that he goes down and I come back," Nadeau said.

 

Nadeau scored the first run of the game Saturday night after a leadoff single in the first inning and an error by third baseman Charlie Maxwell that allowed Nadeau to score from first. He hit two more singles in the third and the ninth innings.

 

Conlin Hughes and Ryan Sloniger joined Nadeau with multi-hit games as well.

 

Justin Hagenman threw seven innings on the hill, surrendering just five hits and no earned runs. None of Northwestern's runs were earned in the game.

 

Penn State ended up outhitting Northwestern 9-6 but dropped the second game of the series, 7-4.

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By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On a chilly Blue and White Saturday, the Nittany Lions handily beat the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 7-0 on Saturday to win their second Big Ten series of the season. The win comes after an extra inning scare on Friday night when the Lions won on a walk-off in the eighth.  Here are some takeaways from the Big Ten victory. 

Fast start paces Lions

The Nittany Lions jumped out to a 4-0 start in the first inning thanks to RBIs from Tori Dubois, Kristina Brackpool and Christa Wagner. Fast starts are something Penn State has not succeeded at this season, so head coach Amanda Lehotak was happy her team was able to get going early.  

 

"That has not been our comfort zone all year, so for us to jump out like that it was huge in momentum," Lehotak said. "I liked that it kind of took the pressure off the pitching and the defense a little bit. I think that was the first time we jumped out to a lead and I felt we were very confident and played really steady the rest of the game."

 

Dubois thriving on both sides

Dubois has been hitting well in the last couple of games, and continued that streak into game two of the weekend. After going 3-for-3 with two RBIs on Friday, Dubois finished Saturday 2-for-3 and added on another two RBI. 

 

The sophomore has also been putting on a clinic in the outfield as well, continuously making difficult diving catches to keep runs off the board. 

 

"That's just kind of Tori's style, she's kind of reckless a little bit, she's aggressive like that and that's what makes her good," Lehotak said. "She's athletic, she gets good jumps on the ball and the greatest thing about Tori is she's going to give you max effort every play. She's made really big catches for us and it just allows our pitchers to do what they need to do knowing their defense will give them max effort."

 

Offense generating hits

The Nittany Lion offense has been putting big numbers on the scoreboard lately, tallying 10-plus hits for the third-straight game and the 12th time this season. In Saturday night's game, seven of nine batters recorded a hit, with only one batter striking out.

 

What's Next?

Penn State closes it's weekend series with Rutgers on Sunday as the Nittany Lions look to complete the sweep of the Scarlet Knights. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.

Balance Guides Lions to EIVA Championship

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The theme all season long for Penn State men's volleyball has been battling. Saturday night, Penn State cruised to the EIVA Championship title with a dominant straight set victory over No. 2 seed Saint Francis.  

Balance Guides Lions to EIVA Championship

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The theme all season long for Penn State men's volleyball has been battling. Saturday night, Penn State cruised to the EIVA title with a dominant straight set victory over No. 2 seed Saint Francis. 

The Nittany Lions recorded one of their most convincing wins of the season in a match where they needed it the most, dispatching the Red Flash 25-19, 25-14 and 25-20.

Penn State didn't have a single player in double digit kills, but they were able to showcase their depth and a healthy lineup in the victory.

"Once again, Colin [McMillan] and Ryan [Walthall] had a great game plan put together and I thought we continued to execute like we know how to," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "It was a good weekend for us and now were focused on the matches ahead."

Chris Nugent was awarded the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament award, finishing the match tied for a team-high with nine kills. Calvin Mende, Aidan Albrecht and Luke Braswell joined Nugent on the EIVA All-Tournament team.

The atmosphere was palpable from the beginning of the match and Penn State certainly fed off of the energy, as the Nittany Lions jumped out to early leads in each set.

"It's a big volleyball community out there and we're certainly happy to have such great fans in the stands for our matches," Michael Fisher of Saint Francis said. "Penn State certainly fed off of the crowd tonight."

The Nittany Lions only echoed the extra boost of intensity from the home crowd in Rec Hall. 

"We definitely feed off of the crowd, especially in matches like this," Nugent said. "To get 1,300 fans in our gym for a match like this is huge. We knew that they had beaten us in the playoffs last year so we wanted a little revenge."

Early on, the Nittany Lions utilized their middles to great effect, throwing Saint Francis off their game. Penn State totaled 8.5 blocks in the three sets, compiling 31 team digs in one of its finer defensive performances, showcasing depth.

"I thought our defense was the key to us having a good attack tonight," Nugent said. "We passed really well and that allows you to set up the rest of the game." 

Not only was the defensive depth in the spotlight, but so was the offensive depth. Again, the Nittany Lions did not have one guy in double digit kills, but they did have five with five or more terminations. Showcasing true offensive balance, Penn State received a variety of production when it mattered most.

"When you have the option to set four attackers ever time you get the ball it makes it pretty easy, I like easy," Braswell said. "I had confidence in all the guys that when they took swings they would put them away. Its a lot of fun playing in a match like that."

Joining Nugent, Albrecht also tied for a team-high mark with nine kills, adding four blocks and five digs for a complete performance. 

"Aidan was huge for us," Mende said. "He has been one of our best players all season long and he went from an opposite, who almost never passes to one of our best passers and most consistent players."

Penn State will have a little time to celebrate the win before they are right back to the grind, preparing for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. With the EIVA conference title, Penn State is ensured a spot in the postseason. However, the Nittany Lions have yet to find out who their opponent will be. The NCAA selection show announcement and brackets will be revealed at 1 p.m. ET Sunday afternoon.

Lions Building on Depth Looking Toward Fall

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By Arielle, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Following a successful spring game, Penn State continues to build on promising depth headed toward fall.  

VIDEO: Postgame Blue-White (Nittany Lions)

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By Arielle, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Postgame takeaways from a few Nittany Lions following the annual Blue-White game.  

VIDEO: Postgame Blue-White (James Franklin)

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By Arielle, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Catching up with Penn State head coach James Franklin following the annual Blue-White game in Beaver Stadium.  

Fan Fest Extra

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By Arielle, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Take a behind-the-scenes look at all things #PSUBlueWhite! From FanFest to photo booths and exclusives with Nittany Lion alums and more, take a closer look at what you missed from the day. 

Lions Building on Depth Looking Toward Fall

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's 2017 spring season officially came to a close Saturday afternoon, as the Nittany Lions hosted their annual Blue-White game in Beaver Stadium.

In front of an estimated 71,000 fans, Penn State put an exclamation point at the end of a successful spring season with a culminating event that showcased a little bit of everything when it comes to meeting offseason expectations. 

"I think we really accomplished our goals," head coach James Franklin said. "We were able to develop a lot of depth, get some reps for some guys that maybe normally don't get reps."

Looking back to just a day over a month ago, it was Franklin who noted this year's spring objectives were mostly focused on getting back to the basics, giving 100 percent effort and creating one of the most competitive environments around - just to name a few. 

An unprecedented level of competition has certainly been the case through the 15-session spring game, spanning March 21 to April. Fueled by the confidence of a highly successful and historic 2016 season, it's a welcome atmosphere to continue to cultivate for the Nittany Lions, who are now in position to continue developing depth and building on a foundation that has already showed its solid shape.

Penn State showcased some of its promising depth Saturday, with a few Nittany Lion stepping forward to display some of their most recent progress.

Sophomore Tommy Stevens threw for 216 yards with 17 completions and a trio of touchdowns, even finding wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins for a 50-yard grab. 

"Ultimately, it's just fun to come out and put on a show for the fans," Stevens said. "The best part of my day was just coming out and working hard with some of my best friends and I had a good time."

When it comes to Stevens though, his playmaking ability and positive approach isn't something that has caught the Nittany Lion staff by surprise this year.

"To be honest with you, not a whole lot different, he just keeps getting better," Franklin said. "We saw these things last summer, this is why it was a true quarterback competition." 

For Franklin though, there's still work to be done at the quarterback position when it comes to creating even more depth with exciting possibilities from Stevens and the already proven success from starter Trace McSorley.

"We have to create more competition," Franklin said. "I think we have two quarterbacks that we can win with, and I think you have to have that. I think that you need to have three. That is no disrespect to the guys that we have. Jake Zembiec, Michael Shuster and Billy Fessler are doing nice jobs developing. We have some guys coming in, but I do not think any of those guys are ready for prime time yet. They have a lot of work to do."

Taking a similar approach to preparing as if your number could be called at any moment this spring is sophomore Juwan Johnson. From teammates to coaches, there was simply no denying the type of spring season Johnson has put together, often picked as the top breakout guy this offseason. 

"He's showing that he can play at the highest level and he's doing a great job - and lucky for me, he's one of my best friends and he's an even better person than he is a football player so I'm glad to have that guy on my team," Stevens said. 

For Johnson, the spring success is clearly welcome and earned, but that doesn't mean the work is over. 

"I still have a lot of things to work on," Johnson said. "Whether it's route running or just catching the ball, I still have a lot of things to work on to get this offense going. I can be proud of what I did this spring, but I still have a lot to work on."

On the opposite side of the ball, Penn State has made significant progress this spring in replacing veteran defensive ends in Garrett Sickels and Evan Schwan.

Among those stepping up, Shareef Miller highlighted team Blue with four stops, adding 3.0 tackles for loss and a team-high 2.0 sacks. Miller joined veteran Torrence Brown, who played in all 14 games last year with four starts. Brown also added one of five sacks coming from the Blue squad.

"There is a good group of guys at that position that are competing and battling, so I'm encouraged by the competition and depth we can have there," defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Pry said. "We still have some work to do to find two guys who can equal the production that Schwan and Sickels had - that [Carl] Nassib and Sickels had last year and even back to C.J. Aloniyan and Deon Barnes before that. Torrence Brown is a veteran guy that we're very excited about."

Among the linebackers, Penn State saw sophomore Jarvis Miller make the move from safety this spring, following along a similar path as junior Koa Farmer, who has made significant strides settling in at the Sam position since he made the move last year.

Miller finished tied for first on the squad with seven stops, including one would-be sack, as the Nittany Lions did not actually bring down quarterbacks. Miller though, was quick to credit Farmer for helping him through a few of the nuances of the transition. 

"We're both fast and the thing about playing linebacker, you have to be physical all the time so being in that physical mindset and just learning how to be a linebacker, because I've never played linebacker before and he didn't either so when I made the flip he just gave me little tips and things to help me out," Miller said.

With spring ball now complete, the work has merely just begun for the Nittany Lions. Drawing from the entire slate of practices, Franklin and the staff will get right to work distributing feedback as the team sets its sights on summer conditioning with training camp looming in the distance.

Regardless of comfort or increasing competition and confidence though, Franklin still noted that he'll remain consistent in his approach to demanding 100 percent effort even long after spring ball, with a clean slate awaiting.

"For us, the way you do not worry about complacency is - this 2017 team has not achieved anything," Franklin said. "This James Franklin has not achieved anything, Saquon Barkley hasn't achieved anything. Those things are in the past. What are we going to do in the present, and what are we going to do moving forward to be the type of program we want to be. I am fired up right now. I am excited."

Reach Arielle at ans26@psu.edu or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

VIDEO: Postgame Blue-White (Nittany Lions)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Football officially wrapped up the 2017 spring season with its annual Blue-White game in Beaver Stadium Saturday with the Blue squad coming away with a 26-0 win. 

Catch up with a few Nittany Lions following the game for a few takeaways from the spring ball finale. 

VIDEO: James Franklin Postgame (Blue-White)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Football officially wrapped up the 2017 spring season with its annual Blue-White game in Beaver Stadium Saturday with the Blue squad coming away with a 26-0 win. 

Catch up with Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin following the game for his takeaways from the spring ball finale. 

Fan Fest Extra

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Blue-White weekend has finally arrived in Happy Valley. In the culmination of a productive spring season, the Nittany Lions return to Beaver Stadium to officially wrap up spring ball. 

Catch up on all things #PSUBlueWhite all afternoon long with a closer look at a few spring game events you might have missed. 

Catching up with Spice!
Former Nittany Lion All-American defensive lineman and NFL veteran Anthony "Spice" Adams, took a brief moment from his Big Ten Network sideline responsibilities for a quick catch up session. Adams reflected on his Blue-White days, while also detailing some of his participation in the competitive festivities as he also joined the halftime contest.

Halftime Media Kicking Contest
Earlier this week, head coach James Franklin challenged the Nittany Lion beat media members to a friendly competition on the field at halftime fielding punts. Forever Radio's Thomas Frank Carr took home the honors, fielding the most punts from the media contingent. 

#HappyValleyHeisman Photo Booth
Penn State relocated its Heisman Trophy (John Cappelletti, 1973) to the concourse at Beaver Stadium for fans to interact and share their favorite Heisman pose in a free photo booth. 

#PSUBlueWhite Autograph Session
The ever-popular Penn State Football autograph session returned to the stadium gates at  Beaver Stadium for another season with fans treated to a free autograph session. The Nittany Lions spread out across five different gates to greet fans for autographs.


One family jumped in line bright and early for a guaranteed autograph from a few of their favorite Nittany Lions. 

Nittany Lion Team Arrival
Just like the regular season, fans lined the outside of the Beaver Stadium tunnel to greet the team as they arrived for gameday. 

My Hero Zero Highlights Fan Fest
Local band My Hero Zero highlighted Penn State's Blue-White Fan Fest, playing for fans outside of the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office, kicking off the afternoon events before team arrival. 

Riotto Breaks Out for Career Night

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Entering the 2017 season, Nick Riotto was the only Nittany Lion returning with multiple home runs hit in the season prior.

Riotto Breaks Out for Career Night

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK - Entering the 2017 season, Nick Riotto was the only Nittany Lion returning with multiple home runs hit in the season prior. If you ask him though, he's the farthest thing from a home run hitter.

"Growing up I was not a home run hitter," Riotto said. "Not at all. I don't think I hit very many and have only hit like four or five here, so I'm not really a home run hitter."

On the night, Riotto had a career-high four hits and two stolen bases along with a season-high three RBIs and two runs scored.

"It feels good to have a night like this. The road has been long, but it's been worth it to work it out and hopefully get some better at bats going," Riotto said. "But, I'd obviously trade a night like this for a win any day of the week. It's nice to see the work pay off, but when it comes down to the stat book or not, I know what my at bats are like so I stay pretty confident throughout the way."

The injury bug has been slightly contagious for Penn State all season starting with Riotto at the beginning of the year. In the first game against TCU, the left fielder was sidelined for nearly a month .

"I mean it's been a long road for sure," Riotto said. "It was tough to deal with for a little while. A lot of long nights staying up thinking about it, but coming back, there are a lot of adjustments that have been made."

Rejoining the team in the middle of March, he has found himself mostly at the top of the lineup, but Penn State head coach Rob Cooper penciled his left fielder in at the fifth spot against Northwestern Friday.

"You know, I hit him two-spot a lot last year just because I liked the way he was swinging the bat," Cooper said. "A lot of it has to do with who is swinging the bat well within the last five to 10 games and getting those guys who are feeling good up there as many times as possible."

In the bottom of the second, Riotto led off the inning with a single to center field. After stealing second, he advanced to third on a single by Ryan Sloniger to right. With Riotto on third, the designated hitter, Brett Davis, laid a bunt down the first baseline. Once Riotto saw that the bunt was down, he charged home and put a run on the board early for the Nittany Lions.

"Getting that first run in is big because we have been struggling early," Riotto said. "We haven't really bunted too much this year and we ask a guy like him, a freshman, to bunt and it's really big for him to get it down and get us going early."

In the bottom of the fourth, Riotto was due up to lead off the inning yet again. The natural lead-off hitter worked the count to 2-0. With the hitter's count, Riotto drove the ball deep to right-center field over the 375-foot mark.

"I mean it's fun to hit home runs," Riotto said. "I don't get to do it too often, so it's definitely fun, but it's just kind of a mistake. Not completely a mistake, but it's just a miss where I was trying to hit it hard up the middle and I pulled it a little bit and got it in the air."

With runners on first and second in the bottom of the fifth, the senior worked a seven-pitch at-bat and drove the final pitch he saw through the right side to bring home the fourth Penn State run of the game.

"I've been making a lot of adjustments with our hitting coach," Riotto said. "We've been working on a lot of balance stuff so that felt good. It was just trusting what I've been doing rather than pressing like I had been for a little while. I was trying to make the defense make a play and I just found holes and I am thankful for that."

After a nine-run sixth inning for the Wildcats, the Nittany Lions relied on the hot bat of Riotto to keep the team in the game. Down 11-4, Riotto walked up to the plate with two outs and a runner on second as the Penn State student section, Cooperstown, chanted "Rio, Rio, Rio, Rio," to the beat of the Spanish "Olé" chant.

"I like the chant," Riotto said. "It surprised me at first last year, but now I'm used to it. It's definitely cool to hear that and to be one of the guys that has a chant. It's cool that they are here all the time no matter what the score is, no matter what the weather is, so we are thankful for them."

With a 2-2 count, the senior turned on the pitch and lined the ball sharply into right field to drive home his third RBI of the game.

"I'm really proud of Nick," Cooper said. "This is a senior who's got a lot of pride and works really, really hard. He wanted to have a great senior season and gets hurt in the first game of the season and it really affected him and then he got off to a slow start. People don't realize how much pain he's been in at times and how hard he works, so I'm just really proud of him." 

Despite Riotto's hot bat, the Nittany Lions fell to the Wildcats 12-5 and look to even out the series on Saturday.

"We got to do a better job," Cooper said. "We just have to get out of here, go to bed quickly and get ready to go tomorrow."

The Nittany Lions will host the Wildcats Saturday at 6 p.m. at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State fell down early Friday evening, as Marlaina Laubach uncharacteristically allowed five runs in the first two innings. Despite the early runs, the tides turned quickly for the Blue & White thanks to the long ball and some clutch hits.

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By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State fell down early Friday evening, as Marlaina Laubach uncharacteristically allowed five runs in the first two innings.  Despite the early runs, the tides turned quickly for the Blue & White thanks to the long ball and some clutch hits. 

 

The team took a 6-5 lead in the third inning, then lost, and regained the lead again to take the win. After being down 9-6 in the sixth inning, the Blue & White plated three in that inning, and would find themselves in an extra-inning battle tied at 9.  In the bottom of the eighth, Tori Dubois hit Penn State's third home run of the game, this time, a two-run walk-off to end it.  Head coach Amanda Lehotak was proud of her team after fighting the entire game and getting the 11-9 win.

 

"I've told them a few times this year that they've impressed me in a lot of different areas, and their fight and their belief in one another is the most amazing thing that I've seen," said Lehotak.

 

Player of the Game

Rebecca Ziegler

 

Ziegler ripped an absolute moonshot in the second inning, crushing a homer right over the 220-feet sign in dead centerfield.  That home run was a momentum-booster, as that cut the deficit to just one run.  Penn State would later take the lead before giving up four runs in the fifth inning.  In the sixth inning, Ziegler roped a line drive into the gap and made it all the way to third, driving in a run in the process.  Lehotak knows she is fortunate to have Ziegler's ability in the leadoff slot. 

 

"I think the leadoff spot in an offensive lineup is one of the most important parts so if you can have somebody that's a triple threat like her, speed, slap, hit a home run, hit doubles, she's just hard to defend," said Lehotak. 

 

As for her solid day at the plate, Ziegler said, "I just felt more in my zone, felt more relaxed, as long as I stay composed and stay within myself, that's when I get it done," said Ziegler.

 

Takeaways

  • Clutch hitting - Penn State did a nice job of not stranding runners on base.  In the second, Christa Wagner blooped a single down the right field line to score Gianna Arrizurietta who singled and advanced to second base on a wild pitch.  Ziegler's blast came with a runner on, and in the third inning, Delaney Elling came up big with a two-run single to give her team a 6-5 advantage.  Down 9-6 in the sixth inning, Toni Polk singled up the middle to score Ziegler from third, making it just 9-8 in favor of the Scarlet Knights.  Finally, Tori Dubois homered to win the game. 
  • Five-tool player - Kristina Brackpool showed some of her versatility on Friday night.  She knocked a home run over the left-centerfield fence, and put her name in the Penn State record books, becoming ninth all-time in program history with 19 career home runs.  She also laid down a sacrifice bunt in the third inning, allowing runners to advance to second and third for Elling, who drove both home.  In the fifth, she nearly notched her 20th career dinger, flying out to the warning track in right field. 
  • Hardcore fans - Blue & White weekend was felt at Beard Field Friday night, as a group of fans stood shirtless in the front row of the stands on the third base side, each with a letter painted on their chests spelling "Go State!"  It's that kind of dedication that makes Blue & White weekend special.   

 

What's Next?

The excitement continues in game two of the three-game series on Saturday, when Curtin road will be closed off for a Blue & White parade and celebration before the game.  The team is expecting a sellout crowd for Saturday's 5 o'clock contest, and the area will be rocking with the spring football game and a baseball game against Northwestern all taking place at the same time.  Penn State (19-25, 5-10) will look to continue its climb up the Big Ten conference standings.  

By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State dropped its final home game of the regular season Thursday night to the Maryland Terrapins, 16-14. The contest was one that saw a back-and-forth battle and ended with the Nittany Lions being the closest squad to knocking off the nation's top team this season.

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State dropped its final home game of the regular season Thursday night to the Maryland Terrapins, 16-14. The contest was one that saw a back-and-forth battle and ended with the Nittany Lions being the closest squad to knocking off the nation's top team this season.


With the win, Maryland moves to 16-0 and remains the only unbeaten team in the nation. The Terrapins also continue their incredible streak of 53 consecutive regular season wins, one that spans all the way back to April of the 2013-14 season.

 

Even though the Blue and White came up short in the end, the team still feels as if there were positives to take away from the close fought match.

 

"It was the number one team in the country. I think every year we turn a corner and I think we're showing we're right up there. It's still a long season ahead with the Big Ten tournament and NCAA's so we'll take our lessons from this game and move on," head coach Missy Doherty said on what her team can take away from the game.

 

The game also could prove valuable come postseason play, the team says. Only a date with Michigan stands in the way of the Nittany Lions before every team in the conference ships off to College Park, Maryland for the start of the Big Ten tournament. Junior attacker Katie O'Donnell said that games like these that make the team grind from buzzer-to-buzzer helps the team ease into playoff mode where every game is do or die.

 

"It was a hard fought game, both sides. We fought really hard there at the end, came up short, but I mean once you get to the postseason every single game is like that," O'Donnell said. "It doesn't matter who you're playing, what they're ranked, everyone is playing to keep their season going. So I think it's important we had this game tonight to take it as a learning lesson."

 

The loss still saw plenty of bright spots for Penn State as several of the upperclassmen stepped up to make big plays. Among the standouts were Madison Carter and O'Donnell, who netted six and five goals, respectively.

 

When the rest of the offense was struggling to get past the stifling Terrapin defense, Carter or O'Donnell were usually the ones who took charge in the final seconds of the shot clock's life to earn much-needed goals for the Blue and White.

 

"Our offense was just seeing each other really well. We were cutting through for each other, we were moving hard, we were running out options hard," Carter said about the all-hands-on-deck effort by the offense in running its plays. "All seven people down there on offense are a threat. It was just great to just move the ball, see our options real hard and finish some of our opportunities,"

 

O'Donnell was the one to open up the scoring on the day with the Penn State's first two goals, and she was the one to close the first half by putting in the team's final goal with six minutes remaining. She and Carter would each score within 23 seconds of one another in order to reclaim the momentum and the 6-5 lead.

 

The two squads eventually went into the half tied up at six apiece. In the first 30 minutes, both teams had proven their rightful place amongst the nation's best, but it was then the Nittany Lions felt they had the confidence to finish strong.

 

"Momentum's a huge thing," senior goalkeeper Cat Rainone said about the confidence heading into the half. "Being home's a big deal. Just like last home game, you get that boost of confidence, it's just you've got to get the ball and you've got to score."

 

Rainone also had herself a solid game after accumulating 15 saves on the day, eight of which were in the first half. She was the anchor in the defensive unit that held the second-highest scoring team in the nation to just six goals in the first half.

 

When the teams came out for the second half, however, the script completely flipped. The first ten minutes of play in the second half featured eight goals, with Maryland netting five for a 11-9 lead.

 

From that point on, the two heavyweights would continue to duke it out by trading goals as each put up five more. Unfortunately for the hosts, the mountain proved to be too steep to climb as two goals in the final two minutes still resulted in a two-goal loss.

 

Penn State looks to finish the season on a high note as they take on Michigan next Sunday in Ann Arbour. The first draw will be at 11 a.m.

By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "I came on my official visit September of my senior year, and I didn't really have a choice at that point, I just loved it so much," said junior Megan McCloskey when talking about her college decision process.

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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "I came on my official visit September of my senior year, and I didn't really have a choice at that point, I just loved it so much," said junior Megan McCloskey when talking about her college decision process.

 

McCloskey is now currently the No.2 all-time high jumper in Penn State outdoor history with a mark of 5'-11.50" (1.82m), but she didn't start her track career with jumps. McCloskey has been involved with track since she was little, where she started competing in meets as young as six years old.

 


Photo provided by Megan McCloskey

"I started competing in track when I was in kindergarten, and it was more just a fun thing that I did with my brother and sister. We would just do summers and all-comers meets, then through my grade school program, which is Catholic Youth Organization, we started in first grade where it was just running the 100 and stuff like that. That's kinda where I got started, and then I've been doing it ever since."

 

"I started to practice high jump a little bit in fourth grade because we needed to score points and no one ever did high jump, so it was just something I found and I wasn't very good at it. In fifth and sixth grade, I started to realize that I had some skill in it and then I started doing AAU track and field outside of my grade school track."

 

Coming to Penn State wasn't necessarily in McCloskey's plans, but having a family history with the school and having a great recruitment weekend made her decision pretty clear.

 

"My mom ran track at Penn State, which was obviously always in the back of my mind. My dad played football here, so there was definitely a Penn State tradition in my family. Since I was little, I thought I would never go to Penn State because I didn't just want to follow them. I looked at a bunch of different places, mostly local because I didn't want to stray too far from home because I'm super close to my family and I love home."

 

"I came on my visit and we did the whole recruiting weekend and I stayed with my host, which was Kasey Kemp and she was awesome. I knew immediately that the other schools I was talking to I was going to have to let them know sooner than later because I fell in love with Penn State when I got here," McCloskey said  "The team aspect that I felt when I was on campus that weekend was different than any other school I went to. I could tell that it was a full team rather than just individuals. They were all friends and I felt welcomed in very fast."

 

McCloskey is in her junior year and has competed in five Big Ten Championships during her time here. This past indoor Big Ten Championship, McCloskey placed 2nd while the girls team won the gold.

 

"The Big Ten Championships indoor this past season has been my favorite memory as a whole," the junior said.  "We knew that we were in a good spot going into the championship, but we didn't know exactly where that would leave us at the end of the weekend. After I finished high jumping the second day of Big Tens, which is the final day, I didn't really know where our team was at I just knew everyone was having really good performances. I could feel the energy and then someone told me we could actually do this and all of a sudden, we had two races left to watch and then they announced our name. We knew as soon as the relay was over that we were Big Ten Champs."

 


Photo provided by Megan McCloskey

"It was with a special group of girls that were on the same page the whole season. We were working together and being able to win something with those people, especially our seniors before they graduate, was just so special to me."

 

McCloskey still has a lot more planned for the rest of her outdoor season and the rest of her time at Penn State. Her main goal is to make it to Nationals this upcoming summer.

 

"I definitely have some big goals. I'm looking to be a Big Ten Champ individually, on the top of the podium, that would be my biggest goal and to qualify for Nationals in Eugene this June. I haven't gotten there yet, I have gotten to the prelims, but I would love to be there, and I think that's the ultimate stage for a Division I track athlete."

 

As well as making it to Nationals, McCloskey hopes the team will be outdoor Big Ten Champions the first weekend in May.

 

"I want to repeat. I want it so badly for us to be able to win a Big Ten championship on our track at home outdoors. I think it would be even cooler if we could do it with our boys. That's my goal for our team as a whole, I'm really hoping that the two of us come home victorious on that day in May."
By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A few weeks ago, head coach Amanda Lehotak's squad was scheduled to practice in Holuba Hall, an indoor sports complex shared by many of the Penn State varsity sports. While the team waited for the football team to finish up practice in preparation for the annual Blue & White game, a coach came out and informed Lehotak that the team would be running late and working extra practice that night, forcing Lehotak and her staff to audible and find a different place to practice.

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By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A few weeks ago, head coach Amanda Lehotak's squad was scheduled to practice in Holuba Hall, an indoor sports complex shared by many of the Penn State varsity sports.  While the team waited for the football team to finish up practice in preparation for the annual Blue & White game, a coach came out and informed Lehotak that the team would be running late and working extra practice that night, forcing Lehotak and her staff to audible and find a different place to practice.

 

Yes, football dominates the equation when it comes to Penn State athletics.  But, the softball team knows that it has carved out an important niche in the Penn State athletic community, and it shows with team attendance this season.  It also showed last year when, on the same day James Franklin's squad took the field of Beaver Stadium for the yearly spring exhibition, Beard Field was also hosting a sold-out crowd. 

 

In 2016, while a crowd of 65,000 fans piled in to catch a first glimpse of what would be a Rose Bowl Nittany Lion football team, right across the street the softball team experienced its first sellout crowd ever at Beard Field, with over 1,100 fans rooting on the Blue & White on the softball diamond.  Coach Lehotak believes the fan support makes a huge difference in her team's on-field performance.

 

"There's a reason that we win more [at home].  The energy that people bring, I think fans can help [our] will to win.  I think that's what happened against Indiana.  I think that's what happened against Ohio State," said Lehotak. 

 

"For us to be at home to feed off the energy [of the fans], to feed off the music they're playing, the 8,000 people we expect to show up this weekend, I absolutely think that's a major advantage," added Lehotak.

 

Lehotak's theory seems to have some truth behind it.  Over the last last three home series, the Lions took two out of three contests against Indiana, and split a two-game series with the 25th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, including a masterful pitching performance by Marlaina Laubach in game one, and swept Bucknell with some clutch hitting.  In each series, there were a huge number of fans rooting on the team, even in some brisk weather. 

 

The team has been playing much better of late, but there is one thing Lehotak knows her players can improve upon.  Eliminating that one bad inning, and putting together quality efforts in all three phases of the game - hitting, pitching and defense.

 

"We're starting to have all three elements playing really well, but now all three elements have to finish, versus letting the game slip away.  So that's going to be our goal going into this week," said Lehotak.

 

"I like how we played against Indiana.  I like how we played against Ohio State...Our one bad inning, whether it's the first, the fifth, the seventh, we have to stop that, so that's kind of going to be our approach; we have to learn how to finish," she added.

 

Continuing that climb to get over the hump starts Friday night, when Big Ten foe Rutgers travels to Happy Valley to play the Nittany Lions in a three game set, spread out across three days of Blue & White weekend.  The three game set will be played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, at 6 p.m., 5 p.m., and 1 p.m., respectively.

 

Saturday's pregame festivities should give the club a little extra morale boost on a busy day for Penn State athletics.  The buzz of Blue & White weekend will be on full display Saturday, with Curtin Road closed off beginning at 10am for the Blue-White Mini Carnival and Fan Festival, including a live performance by My Hero Zero scheduled for 11 a.m.  In addition to what should be a full house at both Beard Field and Beaver Stadium, the baseball team laces up the cleats against Northwestern at Medlar Field just down the road. 

 

It will be a busy day on the northeast part of Penn State's campus, but with an expected full house for all three games against Rutgers, the team should be primed and ready to continue their recent good play and move up the Big Ten standings.  

2017 Blue-White Gameday

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State Football is set to punctuate a competitive spring season with its annual Blue-White Game Saturday. In the culmination a 15-practice schedule, the Nittany Lions welcome alumni, fans, family and friends back to Beaver Stadium for a spring ball finale at 3 p.m. with live coverage on the Big Ten Network.

2017 Blue-White Gameday

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Blue-White Central I Parking Information & Map I Blue Roster I White Roster I Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Football is set to punctuate a competitive spring season with its annual Blue-White Game Saturday. In the culmination a 15-practice schedule, the Nittany Lions welcome alumni, fans, family and friends back to Beaver Stadium for a spring ball finale at 3 p.m. with live coverage on the Big Ten Network. 

On the heels of historic season, Penn State reenergized its momentum in winter conditioning, channeling an unprecedented level of energy into a productive spring season. As Penn State head coach James Franklin noted earlier this week, the annual spring game will now bring one final look at the progress and development for the Nittany Lion staff before training camp arrives. 

"There are going to be some young guys who are going into that stadium and there's going to be some experience that's going to help them," Franklin said. 

Confidence has also been key throughout the spring season, with the motivating results of a successful season under the guidance of defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Pry and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Joe Moorhead, who's new scheme helped guide the Nittany Lions to a Big Ten Championship and its fourth Rose Bowl Game appearance in program history.

"As a group, we look a lot more confident and you can tell really just across the board, how much more comfortable we are and how we've been able take what we installed last spring, grow it in fall camp and through last season and then refine it coming into this spring," quarterback Trace McSorley said.

Much like the offensive side of the ball, the Nittany Lion defense has also continued to reload with younger Nittany Lions seizing opportunities to step up and make an impact.

"You have guys on the first, second, third, fourth string defense who can all really play and you can see that they're going to be really good players and that's the biggest thing," linebacker Jason Cabinda said. "It's all about executing when it comes down to the fall but guys are working to get their techniques better and you can see we're taking this time to really improve and each day we're making sure that we're getting a bit better every day." 

For Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and Running Back of the Year Saquon Barkley the success of spring ball only adds to the anticipation of what's to come.

"We had a successful season so I think these competitive practices with offense and defense, it's not just one sided when you're both going at it," Barkley said. "You truly get the experience of competing against each other and getting better as a team. I'm really excited to see how that translates to camp and how it translates to the season." 

The work doesn't end for the Nittany Lions at the conclusion of the spring season. Finals are looming and then it's right back at it with summer strength conditioning. For now, it's all about finishing spring ball on a high note, welcoming back the Nittany Lion community for a fan-centered afternoon in game-like conditions in Beaver Stadium. 

"We just want to go out, stay injury free, have fun and put on a good show for our fans," running back Andre Robinson said.

Blue-White Format
Penn State's Blue-White game features the Nittany Lion roster split into two teams (blue and white) with quarterbacks wearing the opposite jersey color of their team. With regular scoring, all four quarters will be 11 minutes in length with a running clock, and the final 2:00 of each half at game timing. Stoppages will occur for penalties and change of possession. Each team will have two timeouts per half at 45 seconds each, with an additional 1:30 timeout at the first change of possession after the 6-minute mark in each quarter. There will also be a 2:30 break at the end of the first and third quarters.

Autograph Session Returns
The ever-popular Penn State Football autograph session will return to the stadium gates at Beaver Stadium for another season, running from 12:15 to 1:05 p.m.

Fans may visit as many as five different gates with one item per person permitted. Team posters will also be available at the following gates. Stadium gates A,B,C, and E will officially open at 1:30 p.m. for fans to enter.

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Halftime Kicking Contest
Earlier this week, Franklin invited members of the media covering the Nittany Lions to participate in fielding a few Penn State punts prior to kickoff. Select members of the media who signed up to participate in the challenge will all take to the field at Beaver Stadium for a unique opportunity to catch a punt from a Nittany Lion.

Reach Arielle at ans26@psu.edu or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

Lions Roll to EIVA Title Match

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State uses a complete performance to roll past Princeton for a spot in the EIVA Championship match.

Lions Roll to EIVA Title Match

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After going to five sets twice earlier this season with Princeton Penn State rolled past the Tigers in three sets en route to a spot in the EIVA finals, set for Saturday night at Rec Hall.

Perhaps Penn State's only moments of worry came in first set, when Princeton had leads of as many as four twice. However, Penn State fought back and after that, and the Nittany Lions never looked back.

"I think that the main difference between the two matches prior and this one was that the game plan was carried out to a 't' tonight," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "I think we have a really special setter here and he was great for us tonight." 

Luke Braswell was phenomenal for the Nittany Lions, mixing up the sets better than he had since returning from injury. Braswell had 36 assists in three sets, also chipping in six digs and two blocks.

Making another impactful contribution was Chris Nugent, who always seems to up his game in big situations. Nugent hit a match-high, .560, with15 kills as a force on the outside all night long. Nugent, who is in his last season with the team, said before the EIVA Championship, the Nittany Lions didn't want to repeat the feeling they had last season against Saint Francis. 

"Our outsides did a great job of getting kills in tough situations," Pavlik said. "All in all, it was a great first semifinal."

"I just wanted to put it all out on the line for my teammates," Nugent said. "Give the best swings you can every time you take a swing, that's always been my mentality."

Penn State dominated Princeton in nearly every aspect of the game with 10.5 blocks to the Tigers' 4.5. They also out hit Princeton .413 to .259.

Although the first set may have been nerve wracking, the energy in the building was palpable following the emphatic finish.

"We definitely started off slow and it took us a little while to get going," Braswell said. "Once we got our feet under us I think we really started clicking as an offense. It was easy for me because I had my pick of who to go to when I was setting and everyone was coming through." 

Calvin Mende led the supporting cast with nine kills for the Nittany Lions. Aidan Albrecht chipped in with eight kills and Kevin Gear had five out of the middle. Matt Callaway had only three kills, but didn't commit an error and also stuffed five swings, including a massive solo block. 

"I think the reason we blocked well is because we served well," Braswell said. "It all starts there and then when we have that it allows our blockers to close with more time on their hands." 

The EIVA crown is just one win away for the Nittany Lions and while they didn't have a chance to compete for it last season, Penn State is more than ready to go this year. 

"What I'm most proud of from our guys is that we have had great practices and the process has been great for us all season long," Pavlik said. "The EIVA has changed and it is certainly much more competitive. There are a lot of great teams and we will need our best game against Saint Francis on Saturday."

The Nittany Lions face the Red Flash in a rematch of last year's semifinals. Penn State split the season series, winning at Rec Hall and losing on the road. Game time is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday. 

Spring Football Top Performers: Safeties

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Position by position spring ball top performers taking a closer look at the Nittany Lion safeties.

Spring Football Top Performers: Safeties

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RELATED: 2017 Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Its the final week before Penn State returns to Beaver Stadium for its annual Blue-White game. Just a few days separate the Nittany Lions from the culmination of the spring season.

Ahead of Saturday's spring ball finale, take one last look at who's exceeding expectations from the Penn State staff.

For co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Tim Banks, all of the Nittany Lion safeties have put together good spring campaigns.

Among the unit, Banks was quick to point out returning junior Nick Scott, who played in 13 games last year mostly on coverage units, while also making a few returns. 

"Nick had a really good winter and he has really picked it up in the spring," Banks said. "He has done a great job taking ownership of our defense, communicating well, he has been physical."

Scott was also named one of three team captains this year, serving as the Nittany Lion special teams captain.

"I think he understands that now he can be even more vocal," Banks said. "He's a passionate kid, he always has great energy, and I think he understands it's a tremendous honor to be named a captain and he has taken it and run with it."

Banks' other picks for those who have stepped forward include former corner Garrett Taylor, who has made the move to safety, as well as veteran Troy Apke.

"Troy Apke has obviously played a lot of football around here, but he's now starting to play at a high level."

By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At 7 p.m. on Thursday night, the Penn State Lacrosse Field will be the venue for a top-five showdown between No. 5 Penn State and No. 1 Maryland. The high stakes of the matchup may be enough to describe why this is the biggest game of the season for the Nittany Lions, but the rivalry between the two teams must be understood in order to know just how intense the play will be under the lights.

By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At 7 p.m. on Thursday night, the Penn State Lacrosse Field will be the venue for a top-five showdown between No. 5 Penn State and No. 1 Maryland. The high stakes of the matchup may be enough to describe why this is the biggest game of the season for the Nittany Lions, but the rivalry between the two teams must be understood in order to know just how intense the play will be under the lights.


"I think the rivalry [with Maryland] has grown throughout the first few years of having Big Ten lacrosse. It's always an exciting game," Penn State head coach Missy Doherty said. "With a team as good as them and what we're bringing to the table, it's gonna be a pretty good competition."

 

That competition should be second-to-none on the Penn State schedule this season as it goes toe-to-toe with the lone undefeated team remaining in the national rankings. But, the team is riled up for much more than that, as hometown pride is on the line for many of the Blue and White's crusaders.

 

Among the squad, 13 Nittany Lions and all three coaches grew up inside the Maryland's borders. Included in that bunch is the team's leader in points, Steph Lazo, who is excited for the matchup and says it will be a family affair.

 

"It's always nice to beat the hometown team," Lazo said. "Even though it's not at Maryland and all our family and friends can't come, we're still expecting a pretty big crowd and all our friends are like 'Yeah we're coming to support you guys. You guys are doing so well this season.' So coming out and playing the hometown team; it's always a good feeling, always a good game and we're really excited for Thursday."

 

Coach Doherty knows the team especially well. As a 1997 graduate of the university and a four-year letter winning defender, Doherty experienced vast success and says she learned a lot of her coaching ways in her time as a Terrapin.

 

But the ties do not stop there for head coach. Down on the other end of the sideline for the game will be Doherty's counterpart in Maryland head coach Cathy Reese. Reese and Doherty were former teammates for three years with the Terrapins in the 90's and claimed a national championship in every one of those seasons. Now pitted against one another as adversaries in the same conference, Doherty says they still share a friendship but know that for 60 minutes they each have to get down to business.

 

"Cathy's done a great job with the program and she's one of my good friends there in the coaching world so it's always good to play against each other. But obviously the competition gets tough once the whistle blows and that's what makes it fun to play against them," Doherty said.

 

Each coach brings a unique perspective to their respective teams which seems to stay true to their playing days.

 

Reese, a former elite attacker for the Terps during the title runs, now heads a powerful offensive unit that scores the second most goals per game in the nation (16.87). Meanwhile Doherty, a former defensive standout, looks over a team that is top-20 in the country in scoring defense and top-15 in scoring margin. She looks to transfer her defensive knowledge to her players and recognizes that the key to victory Thursday night will be through the team's defense.

 

"I think defensively is going to be our mark against Maryland. They have a lot of great scorers and you need to be ready to come out and play solid against each one of them," Doherty said.

 

As Doherty gears up her players for the vital matchup, the team will be willing and able to practice what she preaches. Lazo says she and her teammates look to the coach as a spirited leader who always is pushing them towards success.


"I think a really good word to describe Missy is passion," Lazo said. "Whether it's on the field, off the field, she's always in your corner. She's always pushing you to be the best that you can. And this is a huge week for us and she just wants us to put out our best ability."

 

Doherty, like many of the Maryland natives, may have a spot for the state and university somewhere in their hearts, but the head coach says the only colors now coursing through her veins are blue and white. She still can remember her playing days as a Terrapin, however, and says she gets reminded of those championship teams all the time by closely watching the team she gets to coach each and every game.


"[There are] a lot of similarities. The comradery, the great leadership, the ability to really compete in any game," Doherty said. "I've seen a lot of those same things within this Penn State team and it's why it's been a really exciting team to coach all year."

Lions To Honor 10 On Senior Day

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State men's lacrosse preps to honor the contributions and legacy of the 10 members of its 2017 senior class.

Lions To Honor 10 On Senior Day

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com student staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sunday marks the last guaranteed regular season home game for Penn State men's lacrosse's senior class. Despite the emotions that come with senior day festivities, the class of 2017 believes there are still many opportunities to make a lasting mark in the Blue and White.

Prior to the first faceoff, Nick Aponte, Tyler Chambers, Dan Craig, Matt Florence, Drake Kreinz, Billy Lombardi, Brian Prestreau, Matt Sexton, Mike Sutton, and Peter Triolo, will all be recognized for their contributions to the Nittany Lion lacrosse program. 

"This group has worked really hard," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "I'm optimistic that their best is yet to come. I think if we look back at the past three and a half years, they've done some really nice things and helped change the culture of our program."

During their time as Nittany Lions, this senior class has made big strides in putting Penn State lacrosse on the map. Just last season, Penn State upset then-No. 1 Denver during a showdown in Dallas, Texas, showing the nation that the Nittany Lions are capable of playing alongside some of the most storied programs in collegiate lacrosse. That win is something senior midfielder Dan Craig said he'd never forget.

"That was a pretty cool feat that we got to accomplish," Craig said. "It was an amazing day, it was super sunny out and in a great location. It was a pretty fantastic win and I think that was our most complete game that we've played as a senior class."

This senior class also helped make history this season, helping the Nittany Lions earn their first ever No. 1 ranking earlier this month, storming out to an undefeated record in their non-conference slate. Despite these accomplishments and more, Tambroni said he feels there's so much the younger Nittany Lions can take away from this senior class that doesn't involve their winning record.

Tambroni emphasized that the underclassmen can model their compassion and drive after the 10 upperclassmen leaving the program in May, and says he's hopeful that through it all, the legacy of this class remains more than just wins and losses. 

"These guys came in and a lot of these guys played in their freshman year, but they've stuck together as a class," Tambroni said. "They lost a couple of their teammates in the sophomore and junior years but they've stuck together." 

Tambroni was reflective of the hardships this class has gone through also. 

"They were able to adopt a class that's gone through some tough times, both in their sophomore year when we had a losing record, that was a tough season to endure, and then the following year losing a teammate," Tambroni said. "They have fought back from great adversity." 

Senior midfielder Mike Sutton said he hopes that all the returners next year can take something from this senior class, including their leadership on and off the field. 

"Just looking back on it, we have a lot of guys who play," Sutton said. "If they can take a little bit of it, a little piece of what we do and add it to what they do next year I think that's one of the biggest things. Just using our leadership and building off of that, I think that would be huge for them."

By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Two late game rallies gave Penn State the doubleheader sweep over Bucknell on Wednesday evening with 1-0 and 6-5 wins.

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By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Two late game rallies gave Penn State the doubleheader sweep over Bucknell on Wednesday evening with 1-0 and 6-5 wins. 

The Nittany Lions got big hits from some different contributors in both games to put runs on the board when they needed it most. Delaney Elling, Toni Polk, and Christa Wagner all had two-plus hits in the fourth inning or later.

"It's kind of been our thing all year, we've had some heroes and everybody's been a hero at some point," said head coach Amanda Lehotak. "I think it just shows their work ethic, their belief and really, if you're a starter or non-starter, it's probably one of the hardest working groups we've ever had and I think that's really showing." 

Penn State was down early in game two, trailing 5-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth. But the Nittany Lions scored five runs in the final two frames, including a two-run homerun and 3 RBI from Elling and it was Elling who hit the single that scored Polk to send the game into extra innings.

Wagner scored two runs of her own when she came in as a pinch hitter for Mia Monopoli in the seventh. The freshman was 2-for-2 and scored the winning run off of Rebecca Ziegler's single in the eighth inning.

"Without Wagner, we don't tie it in the seventh and then come back to win it in the eighth," Lehotak said. "She's been working her tail off these past two months, so everything that she did today was completely earned. It was just waiting for her time and she got her time and she capitalized."

Lehotak noticed a visible change in her team's attitude heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, and credits that to the come-from-behind win. 

"I don't really know what it was, I think it happened defensively. But something, all of a sudden, the energy was authentic," Lehotak said. "I could feel that we were going to score runs, I don't really know how to explain it and I didn't necessarily expect it, but they did a great job. It's all about the fight, we just kept fighting."

Polk was the hero in game one, going 2-for-3, including an RBI triple to give Penn State the win in the opening game. 

Polk's triple came in the sixth inning when she rocketed a fly ball off the right field wall to score Ziegler from first. The ball was perfectly placed - a foot and a half to the right and it would have been foul. It was her third triple of the season and was her second hit of the game, giving her two of Penn State's three hits in game one. 

Polk also had a hand in the seventh inning comeback in game two, forcing an error at shortstop before advancing to second on the throw. The play scored Wagner to bring the Lions within two.

"We believed in each other as a team and especially [Madison] Shaffer fired us all up because she was throwing such a good game so I think that changed the momentum a lot," Polk said. "If a pitcher is doing a great job, it's the offenses job to score runs and help them groove even more so it's really important to score more runs to back good pitching."

The game one win ended a four game skid for the Lions, who hadn't won since they upset No. 25 Ohio State a week ago, 2-1.

Penn State continues its seven-game homestead into the weekend, when it hosts Rutgers during Blue-White Weekend. The three game series starts Friday with game one set for a 6 p.m. start.

Five Takeaways from Spring Practice Media

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Just a few days before Blue-White kickoff, head coach James Franklin along with punter Blake Gillikin and running back Andre Robinson all met with the media to preview the upcoming weekend. From who's improving to where certain Nittany Lions are looking to get better, catch up on five takeaways from the second spring practice media session.

Five Takeaways from Spring Practice Media

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RELATED: 2017 Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just a few days before Blue-White kickoff, head coach James Franklin along with punter Blake Gillikin and running back Andre Robinson all met with the media to preview the upcoming weekend. Through 13 practices, the Nittany Lions have nearly reached the end of the spring session, which culminates Saturday afternoon in Beaver Stadium.

Measuring Spring Game Success -
With the annual Blue-White game quickly approaching, Franklin and the staff aren't necessarily focused on measuring success from just what happens Saturday afternoon. Rather, the truly gauging improvement comes within the results of the entire body of work that is spring practice.

"It's more about what they have been able to do over the 13 practices and the film that we've been able to watch," Franklin said. "I'll have all the coaches grade this just like a game, they'll be going on the road recruiting, but I'd like for them to kind of get that done so we have it."

Looking further ahead, coaches will set up individual meetings to address which areas different guys have improved and which areas will be targeted for more work in the time between Sunday and training camp. 

Robinson Right On Track -
When asked about his progress toward reaching his spring ball goals, Robinson noted that he's right on track when it comes to meeting those goals, settling into the offense with increasing confidence. Before each practice, running backs coach Charles Huff has his unit write down two or three goals going in to practice to go back and watch after practice.

"I think that's helpful," Robinson said. "Thinking about that during practice and then going back over and being honest with yourself after practice and how you did."

Brown Maturing -
Franklin mentioned that linebacker Cam Brown has also made progress, noting his spring ball performance only benefited from his work in the weight room during winter condition, leaving an opportunity to come training camp. 

"I do think that he has an opportunity now to go back and watch the film, take some of the comments from the coaches and be able to make a big jump and put it all together now," Franklin said. "He gained experience on the field last year probably before he was ready and then he was able to have a great offseason for the first time and then come out here this spring, still gain some experience and then kind of put it all together in fall camp, which is really the next step for him."

Gillikin's Goals -
Following a successful true freshman season in the Blue and White earning ESPN.com true freshman All-America honors with a record-setting 42.8 yards per punt. Among all the success though, Gillikin is still focused on continued improvement in the offseason headed toward the fall. in 

"I think something I want to pride myself on this season is location of my punts," Gillikin said.  "Especially with all of the good punt returners we play, I think location helps limit the return and kind of helps our coverage guys to know where its going to be and make the best play they can." 

Franklin Challenges Media Members -
To pair with spring game festivities, Franklin issued a bit of a challenge to the Nittany Lion media contingent in attendance Wednesday evening. Franklin invited members of the media to head down to the field to partake in a few fun challenges, catching punts and kicks in front of the Beaver Stadium crowd. 

VIDEO: Lions Set for Maryland

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Having returned home from the road, Penn State women's lacrosse is set to close out the final game of its Big Ten home slate, welcoming Maryland to Happy Valley for a top five matchup. Ahead of Thursday's matchup catch up with Penn State head coach Missy Doherty as well as Nittany Lions Abby Smucker and Katie O'Donnell.

VIDEO: Lions Set for Maryland

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Having returned home from the road, Penn State women's lacrosse is set to close out the final game of its Big Ten home slate, welcoming Maryland to Happy Valley for a top five matchup. The fifth-ranked Nittany Lions and the top-ranked Terrapins will meet under the lights Thursday at 7 p.m. with an opportunity to earn at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title on the line. 

Ahead of Thursday's matchup catch up with Penn State head coach Missy Doherty as well as Nittany Lions Abby Smucker and Katie O'Donnell. 

Smucker, O'Donnell

Doherty

Lion Duo's Versatility Benefits Lineup

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Although Tuesday night did not end in the Nittany Lions' favor, Penn State head coach Rob Cooper saw promising outings at the plate from senior Christian Helsel and sophomore Ryan Sloniger. In a game featuring 10 total hits for the Penn State offense, Helsel and Sloniger were responsible for six.

Lion Duo's Versatility Benefits Lineup

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK - Although Tuesday night did not end in the Nittany Lions' favor, Penn State head coach Rob Cooper saw promising outings at the plate from senior Christian Helsel and sophomore Ryan Sloniger. 

In a game featuring 10 total hits for the Penn State offense, Helsel and Sloniger were responsible for six.

At the beginning of the game, Helsel was penciled in at the leadoff spot in the lineup and starting at second base. Of his 34 games this year, Helsel has played second base just five times entering Tuesday night, as opposed to his 21 starts at third base and eight at first base. 

"The approach changes playing at second base," Helsel said. "You have to approach balls differently, but my whole life I've kind of moved around a lot. Playing up the middle isn't something really new for me. I feel comfortable at all infield positions." 

On top of the little experience in the middle infield, Helsel has batted anywhere in the lineup from the second spot to the eight hole at least once this season, yet never in the leadoff role.

"I feel like he's been swinging the bat very well," Cooper said. "I just felt like with him swinging the bat well, getting him up more often might help, so that's why he went up in the leadoff spot." 

"As far as my approach, nothing was different," Helsel said. "I just wanted to be aggressive at the plate and get on base for my teammates to be able to drive me in. In the leadoff spot, I really feel like I am the guy to get us going, so I just went up there to swing the bat and get on base."

Helsel started off the game driving the fourth pitch of his at bat into centerfield. After popping out to second base in the third inning, Helsel came back in the fifth to tack on a two-out single to right field. In the bottom of the seventh, Helsel stepped up in yet another two-out situation and drove the ball to deep center field for a stand-up double and the only extra-base hit for the Lions of the night. 

"Christian [Helsel], I'm very happy for," Cooper said. "This is a kid out of high school who went to Ole Miss and got hurt and really had to overcome a lot. Then he got here and things didn't go as well as I know he wanted it to go right away. So, to see him really starting to put it together in his senior season, I'm very happy for him." 

Helsel was not the only Penn State player playing out of his typical comfort zone Tuesday evening. 

Sloniger is used to seeing the ball from behind the plate, but against Pittsburgh he made his sixth start at first base.

"I'm definitely starting to get a little more comfortable at first base," Sloniger said. "I really hadn't played over there at all before recently. The more reps I get, the more comfortable I'm going to get."

Just like Helsel, Sloniger found himself up to bat in two-out scenarios in both the fourth and the sixth innings. In the fourth, Sloniger singled to center while in the sixth the sophomore singled to right field. In the eighth, he picked up his third hit of the night with another single to right field.

After getting off to a slower start than he would have liked at the beginning of the season, Sloniger has hit .250 in his last ten games with two doubles, a triple and a home run. 

"Obviously, recently, I've felt a little better at the plate," Sloniger said. "I'm just trying to stay with my same approach. I saw the ball well tonight again and I'm just trying to keep it simple."

Cooper has said many times this season that certain players are getting hot at the plate at different times, but his offense has yet to get hot at the same time. In these situations, players end up taking it upon themselves to make it their responsibility to get the offense going.

"It's hard not to feel that pressure," Helsel said. "But you really have to fight that because if you're pressing at the plate then you're going to make bad decisions at what pitches you're swinging at. I really just try to go up there and focus on one pitch at a time and try not to do too much." 

With conference games coming up this weekend, the Nittany Lions look to put this loss behind them and focus on the defensive part of their game before Northwestern comes to town. 

"We just need to play clean baseball," Helsel said. "The free bases that we are giving other teams is really what is doing us in. So if we can eliminate those free bases that we are giving these other teams, that's going to eliminate a lot of runs that they are scoring and keep us in ball games and give us a shot to win." 

Penn State will host a three-game series against Northwestern starting Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Barkley Building on Work Ethic

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Back for another year in the Blue and White, standout running back Saquon Barkley continues to build on work ethic for another successful season.

Barkley Building on Work Ethic

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RELATED: 2017 Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - To this day Saquon Barkley still watches the tape from the Rose Bowl game. Soon after returning home from Pasadena, California, the time he spent home with friends and family away from Happy Valley brought time for Barkley to reflect, to move past the sting of the heart wrenching loss, but never forget.

While the bitter end of the historic season is still imprinted into the minds of the Nittany Lions, its now taken on a new shape, working to fuel the motivation that's driving the future, evident right now in spring practice.

"The motivation that we have is in ourselves because of the standard that we have as a program, and the confidence that we have in each other," Barkley said. "We believe in what we can accomplish." 

For Barkley, part of the internal process to reaching the type of player you ultimately want to be, begins with watching some things you might not be good at. Pouring over clip after clip of the Rose Bowl game to go back and learn from mistakes is all part of the motivation.

"I just take that to my work," Barkley said. "Keeping that in the back of my head, like alright, third-and-1 you didn't get that, maybe this rep in the weight room is the reason why you can get that. You have to go hard on this rep or that set, push yourself a little bit in running, push yourself in practice. Whether you're taking 90 reps or one rep, try to be a leader, try to be focused and locked in so when situational football comes up that has happened in the past, you're preparing yourself for it."

It's a truly humble approach for someone who climbed through the Nittany Lion record books at a staggering pace last year, often painting headlines with eye-popping plays that left defenses dumbfounded, with even a hurdle or two mixed in.

Setting the sophomore single season record, he rushed for 1,496 yards, adding on another record-setting 402 receiving yards by a running back, also in just a single season.

The postseason awards piled up for Barkley, who earned both Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and Running Back of the Year honors last year, as one of just 17 running backs to win Offensive Player of the Year honors in Big Ten history. 

When asked about his conference honors though, Barkley was quick to direct the credit to his offensive line, just another honest reflection of how he has managed success with poise and maturity, just two seasons into his career in the Blue and White.

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On the brink of his junior season, Barkley isn't finished with his pursuit, rather focused on embracing a mindset that he set back in his junior year of high school.

"I went through my high school record book and I saw all the records and I said, when I leave here, I want to leave my legacy," Barkley said. "Everywhere you go you want to leave your legacy, and here, I want to leave my legacy. I want to be known as one of the best players to ever play at Penn State."

It isn't all about the records for Barkley, who noted that leaving behind his legacy isn't going to happen just by having his impressive numbers printed in a record book.

"It's going to happen by my work ethic, by continuing to try to grow as a person, to be a better person every day," Barkley said. "Whether it's in football, whether it's someone outside asking for a picture, it's the little things. Being a great teammate, pushing my guys, being there and being supportive of them but also being critical of them."

There's an old saying that part of being great is making others around you better. For Barkley, part of making those immediately surrounding him in the running back room better, is showing up.

"I challenge the running backs by competing," Barkley said. "That's one of our core values and that's one of the things that I bring to this room and that we all bring to this room, that we compete against each other. By us competing, it brings out the best in us and we're really critical of each other."

Outside of the more physical aspects of competing, Barkley's role has shifted a bit in spring ball, now with added responsibility to guide others based on his own success and experiences.

Whether its extra work with younger guys or simply showing the ropes to a few new faces in the room, Barkley noted that in order to reach the highest level in 2017, its on the players to take on the leadership and cultural role to bring out the best in each other.

"I think I've grown in that role just talking to the guys and saying hey, you could try this or try this and see how it works out or this blitz helps give it away," Barkley said.

That type of leadership isn't just paying off for the rest of the guys lining up for each rep in spring practice though.

"Even though I'm not taking those physical reps, I'm taking mentally reps every single time," Barkley said. "Being locked in, I'm seeing stuff that I probably would not have seen and I'm growing, getting better as a player."

As spring ball steadily approaches an end, there's no doubt in Barkley's mind that the level of competition is unlike that of last year's.

Among the things that excite him the most though, his first is of course, the offensive line.

"Just when the play just works perfect," Barkley said. "JoeMo calls it right, the offensive line blocks it right, Trace [McSorley] makes the right read and the running back makes the right read, it makes me really excited."

Perhaps what's most exciting for Barkley as he looks toward what's in the future though, is truly the progress the team has made competing against each other, returners included.

"The way we are handling it right now, obviously anything can change, but nobody has a big head right now," Barkley said. "Nobody thinks they are above the team or above anyone. We all see each other as equal and we all compete and try to get each other better. We all have one goal in mind. That goal is to compete at the standard."

Reach Arielle at ans26@psu.edu or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

Lions Set for EIVA Championship

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Catching up with Nittany Lion head coach Mark Pavlik ahead of the semifinal round of the upcoming EIVA Championship at Rec Hall.

Lions Set for EIVA Championship

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions have now shifted their focus for the upcoming EIVA Championships set to meet the Princeton Tigers in the second match of Friday's semifinals. Despite injuries taking their toll and presenting challenges throughout the season, the Nittany Lions are hitting their stride at perhaps, the right time.  

"We're as healthy as we have been all season and that certainly contributes to our confidence level right now," head coach Mark Pavlik said.

Come Thursday night, Penn State will meet a Princeton squad who has played them tight in both of their previous matches this season. Both regular season matches between the two clubs have gone the distance, ending in five set decision. The Nittany Lions came out on top in both matches, but Thursday night has all the makings of another tightly contested match. 

For Pavlik, a tough service game from the Nittany Lions will be key in keeping Princeton off balance throughout the match. With a win in the semifinals, Penn State will have a chance to opportunity to secure a championship title that avoided them last season.

"It is certainly important for us to have these matches at home and have a chance to defend home court for a couple more games," Pavlik said. 

Lions Eager to Suit up at PNC Park

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- A rained out game against West Virginia has now turned into an opportunity of a lifetime for Penn State baseball.

Lions Eager to Suit up at PNC Park

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In general, cancellations and make up games can be a hassle for programs that already have a loaded schedule. For Penn State, a rained out game originally scheduled for March 22 against West Virginia has now turned into an opportunity of a lifetime.

 

The Pittsburgh Pirates announced last Friday that the make up game between the Nittany Lions and Mountaineers will take place at home in their very own PNC Park Wednesday, May 10 instead of at the previously scheduled Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

 

"We're excited about it," said Penn State head coach Rob Cooper. "Hopefully it's something that can become a regular event there, but I think it's going to be really neat. It'll be a great experience for our kids to play in PNC Park, and hopefully we can get a really big Nittany Lion contingent there."

 

Frank Coonelly, the president of the Pirates since 2007, graduated from Penn State in 1983. In the statement released by the Pirates last Friday Coonelly praised both schools as "outstanding institutions" and said the Pirates are honored to host the game.

 

The Lions could also feel right at home in Pittsburgh, as Medlar Field at Lubrano Park is modeled with the same dimensions as PNC Park. Cooper said that it could potentially help calm the nerves of any star-struck players. He said it's the same size and the same game, so his team will be ready.

 

A few players who may have to try harder to calm their nerves are longtime Pirates fans Nick Riotto and Ryan Sloniger.

 

Riotto was born and raised in Washington, Pennsylvania, which is about a half hour southwest of PNC Park. Riotto said he has been attending Pirates games even before they called PNC Park home.

 

As a child, Riotto had the chance to watch the team when they played at Three Rivers Stadium. Both the Pirates and Steelers played at Three Rivers Stadium from 1970 to 2000.

 

He even threw out the first pitch in a game when he was around four years old.

 

"Ever since I could probably play baseball I was a Pirates fan," Riotto said. "I always went to games at PNC Park growing up and in high school, but getting to play on it is going to be pretty cool."

 

Riotto, like most of the team, has never played on a major league field before. Luckily for him, his first time catching fly balls in a major league outfield will be where his favorite players take their positions almost every day.

 

"It's like a dream come true," Riotto said.

 

In regards to the similar dimensions in the outfield, Riotto said it will help in that he won't have to change anything in his preparation or during the game.

 

"Being able to go to a stadium that's identical helps a lot because that way I can just go and focus on what I need to do rather than focus maybe on the wall or where I am on the field," Riotto said.

 

Similar to Riotto, Sloniger grew up a die-hard Pirates fan. Sloniger hails from Punxsutawney, which is about an hour and a half drive to Pittsburgh, but that didn't stop him and his family from going to Pirates games regularly when he was younger.

 

Sloniger said his dad raised him as a Pittsburgh sports nut. He said he still always loves getting back to PNC Park to catch games when he can.

 

"When you get in that big stadium it's going to be a different feel. It's obviously going to be a really cool feel," Sloniger said. "It's a dream come true for me too."

 

Cooper said this great opportunity will not only give the team a fun experience but will also help with recruiting players and energizing the fan base.

 

"If you've been to a game at PNC Park it's such a great place to watch a game, so to be able to play in what I think is one of the best ball parks in all of professional baseball, it's a great thing to be able to do with your team," Cooper said.
By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Just over a week removed from the Big Ten championships, the Penn State men's gymnastics team is in full preparation for the upcoming national championship meet.


By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Just over a week removed from the Big Ten championships, the Penn State men's gymnastics team is in full preparation for the upcoming national championship meet.

 The meet will take place on Friday and Saturday at West Point, a place the Nittany Lions took the overall team title in the West Point Open at the first meet of the season.

After scoring 411.200 at the Big Ten championships and picking up a fourth place finish, head coach Randy Jepson likes where the team is at headed into the final meet. 

"You take a third of our scholarships out and you tell us we're going to be fourth in the Big Ten and knocking on the door to qualify for the finals at the NCAAs with a 90 percent hit, that's not bad," Jepson said.  "We've performed to our expectation with what we have and what we can do, and I feel like we can even be a little bit better."

For guys like sophomore Wyatt Tyndall, who picked up an individual third place finish at Big Tens, the focus is all on taking the successes from last week and applying them to team performance now that everyone is all in for a national title. 

"The big thing was that we came up big as a team, we have a lot of momentum going into the NCAAs," Tyndall said. "We had a few mistakes as a team as a whole, and I think we can feed off that."

 The Nittany Lions are one of 12 teams to qualify for the team competition, with the top three teams moving on to Saturday's final. The Big Ten once again showed its depth, as all seven schools made the 12-team field.

Competing against quality teams week in and week out may have helped the Nittany Lions in the long run, as they have been preparing to win at the highest level all season and always had to be at the top of their game to have success in the Big Ten. 

"We've been talking about peaking and preparing and being ready at the end, and they're physically prepared but there's always that question mark in guys' minds," Jepson said. "I think after our senior competition, where we performed very well, and this last weekend where we went out and did that, we're ready to go beyond that now and I think the guys have quite a bit of confidence going into the NCAAs."

All season the team has relied on their six seniors to put up big numbers in critical situations, and those guys have been able to consistently deliver time after time. This weekend will be the last time all of the seniors will compete together, something Jepson has done his best to avoid thinking about. 

"It's always tough because as a coach and as an athlete, you don't really think that way," Jepson said. "You want to think about the task at hand, and that's preparing, going out and performing and getting the job done. But then all of a sudden it hits them and us and wow, you know that went really quick." 

On the other side of the spectrum, the underclassmen are still relatively new to the championship process and could be battling some nerves. Tyndall has certainly noticed the difference the second time around, coming in much more confident for this meet than he was as a freshman. 

"I kind of know what to expect. Experience is the biggest thing and just being out there not as nervous this time." 

Nerves aside, the Nittany Lions have to like their chances, as they posted the sixth-best qualifying score at 412.725. Oklahoma comes in as the favorite, qualifying with a score of 432.850, nearly 10 points better than the second-highest team. Ohio State's 418.050 is the highest Big Ten mark and third overall.

Oklahoma, Stanford, California, Air Force and Navy join the seven Big Ten schools to complete the field.

Best of Spring Ball

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State is just one week away from Blue-White weekend in Happy Valley! All the best of what you missed from week four spring ball action.

Best of Spring Ball

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Lions Look Toward Improvements

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Despite a late surge in a comeback effort on the road at Johns Hopkins, Penn State is now looking toward future improvement.

Lions Look Toward Improvements

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite a strong fourth-quarter effort, including five goals from the Nittany Lions in the final 15 minutes, Penn State men's lacrosse (10-2, 1-2 Big Ten) fell short against Johns Hopkins (7-4, 2-1 Big Ten), 13-11.

The Nittany Lions were down 10-5 at halftime and looking to spark a comeback. Freshman attackman Grant Ament started the Nittany Lion scoring streak in the fourth quarter, securing a goal only nine seconds in.

Ament, who earned his 100th career point during the Johns Hopkins game, is one of only two active Penn State lacrosse players to reach or be above the milestone. Fellow starter, senior attackman Nick Aponte has 124 points in his career.

With less than two minutes left, the Nittany Lions came within one goal of the lead, 12-11, but Johns Hopkins secured one final goal for the victory. Head coach Jeff Tambroni said he felt his team played with more heart in the fourth quarter than in the rest of the game, noting Johns Hopkins came out fighting for a win despite his team's best efforts. 

"We certainly knew both teams were going to come in here and put a great deal of emphasis on possession and possession time," Tambroni said. I think both [Penn State and Johns Hopkins] struggled against our previous opponents in the Big Ten and for whatever reason Johns Hopkins just imposed their will a little bit more so." 

Tambroni is now looking toward next week's outing against Rutgers, already knowing there needs to be a few changes if his team is going to come out on top. He's looking toward focusing more on the basics, making sure each possession is calculated and purposeful, as well as making sure transitional play remains consistent.   

For Tambroni, despite Penn State's late surge in the game, the Nittany Lions will also need to address a few problem areas that have been inhibiting the team's success lately. Tambroni said one of those areas is ground ball performance. The Nittany lions picked up 24 ground balls at Johns Hopkins, but Tambroni said there's always room for improvement. 

"Ground ball play just includes so many different things, picking the ball up off the ground takes courage especially in a crowd," Tambroni said. "But moving the ball from the point of the pick up and creating opportunity defensively, trying to create clears offensively, trying to create transition and I felt that's where we really struggled today."

Tambroni said he felt his team's efforts were respectable, but that Johns Hopkins just had the edge on Saturday afternoon. 

"We need to address it, we need to fix it, and the coaching staff needs to do a better job of preparing our team to just be a little bit more passionate, be a little bit more focused on that kind of stuff," Tambroni said. "So it'll definitely be a point of emphasis this week as we prepare for Rutgers."

Mende Guides Lions to EIVA Championships

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- On senior night for the men's volleyball team, it was an underclassman who stole the show. Calvin Mende recorded 24 kills to help Penn State down George Mason in four sets to claim the EIVA regular season title outright.

Mende Guides Lions to EIVA Championships

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On senior night for the men's volleyball team, it was an underclassman who stole the show. Calvin Mende recorded 24 kills to help Penn State down George Mason in four sets to claim the EIVA regular season title outright.

On a night honoring two of Penn State's most experienced veterans in Chris Nugent and Matt Callaway, the Nittany Lions were able to do their senior justice with a gritty performance. It may not have been Penn State's best effort, but head coach Mark Pavlik was certainly happy with the response and resolve from his team.

"I was very happy with the way that we battled tonight," Pavlik said. "It was a physical matchup and at some point it just turned into both teams slugging it out back and forth. It was good to win a match like that heading into postseason play."

The Nittany Lions biggest slugger on the night was Mende. From the get go, the left handed opposite seemed to have something going offensively. Attacking from right and left sides of the court at will, Mende was the catalyst for Penn State until the rest of the team settled into a rhythm in set two.

"I wasn't really sure I had it going right away," Mende said. "It took a couple of swings to get into a rhythm and really start feeling good. The seniors on the court really helped out tonight with their presence and we all wanted to get them a win in their last regular season match." 

It is the last regular season match for Penn State's seniors, but far from the last time the two will step on the court at Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions now know not only that they will host the EIVA semifinals and championship matches, but also that they will be playing the Princeton Tigers, a team they have beaten twice this season in five sets, in round one.

"It was nice for us to win the EIVA outright," Pavlik said. "That gives us an added little boost heading into Thursday. I know that we will be very focused this whole week and looking ahead to Princeton. Now that we have the victory tonight, that is the next step." 

Nugent and Callway each had relatively quiet nights by their standards. Nugent had 10 kills, Callaway recorded six, but Penn State didn't need the added assistance of their seniors on Saturday. However, there is no denying the impact that the two have on the team and how critical of a role they will have to play in the postseason, not just on the score sheet, but in leadership positions as well. 

"We've talked about it all season long how one of our goals is to win the EIVA championship and now were in a position to do it," Nugent said. "It is certainly huge for us to make sure that Thursday isn't the last match for us in Rec Hall because we don't want that feeling from last year. We have Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to prepare for Princeton and that's the focus right now."

Penn State is the number one seed in the tournament and will be taking on the Tigers who get the four spot. Saint Francis and Sacred Heart will square off in the two-three matchup earlier on Thursday. Thursday's match for the Nittany Lions is set for a 7 p.m. first serve in Rec Hall.

Balance Lifts Lions to EIVA Title

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Balance and a few key contributions from the bench were the key to Penn State's EIVA regular season clinching victory against Charleston (W. Va.) Friday night at Rec Hall.

Balance Lifts Lions to EIVA Title

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Balance and a few key contributions from the bench were the key to Penn State's EIVA regular season clinching victory against Charleston (W. Va.) Friday night at Rec Hall.

Penn State used a solid all around attack, dipping into a talented Nittany Lion bench to clinch the regular season EIVA berth and home court advantage throughout the EIVA Championships.

"We clinched tonight, so we can check that off our list," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "We knew coming in to this game that one win over the weekend would get us the regular season title and we wanted to get that done tonight."

Penn State was lead by a solid performance from Aidan Albrecht, who finished with 11 kills and was the only Nittany Lion to register double figure kills. Albrecht has been a main stay in the lineup all season long, but Penn State has needed an abundance of Nittany Lions to step up this season.

Come Friday night, it was middle Jason Donorovich.

"It was great to get in to a game situation and get some good swings for my team," Donorovich said. "I've been working hard in practice so I'm glad it paid off in the match."

Donorovich finished with five kills on eight swings and a match high .625 hitting percentage. He was in the match from the second set on and it was his longest stretch as a starter this season. Penn State has relied on performances like his all season long to get to reach its EIVA regular season title.

"In practice, the A team pushes the B team and the B team pushes the A team," libero Royce Clemens said after the match. "It has been like that all season long and that's why you see so many people like Jason and others on the team get kills and look comfortable stepping up in big situations. For us it's nothing new."

Something new for the Nittany Lions this year was not being defending EIVA champions. From the outset, they talked about having a chip on their shoulder, noting the goal was to not only host the EIVA's, but win the championship this year.

"We talked about it a lot for sure," Luke Braswell said. "I don't think we ever let it leave our minds. You don't forget losing on your home court like that and we are happy to have a chance to defend our home court this season."

Penn State will have a chance to defend home court and will also have a chance to honor its seniors tomorrow night against George Mason. Chris Nugent and Matt Callaway are the only two seniors on the Penn State team, but have meant so much for the Nittany Lions, their fans and the entire community through their five years on campus.

"It will be great to recognize them," Pavlik said. "In their years they have seen just about anything you can see on a volleyball court, this year is no difference and they have taken everything in stride. It is exciting to honor them and it is even more exciting to know that it won't be their last match at Rec Hall."

Penn State will honor its seniors before the 7 p.m. first serve against George Mason. Round one of the EIVA tournament will be next Thursday with Penn State's opponent yet to be determined.

Spring Football Top Performers: Cornerbacks

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RELATED: 2017 Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As week four of Penn State spring practice winds down, the Nittany Lions will cap off the final week before Blue-White weekend with a practice inside Beaver Stadium.

As the Nittany Lions draw closer to the end of the spring schedule, continue catching up with the Penn State staff for a closer look at who's exceeding expectations.

For assistant head coach Terry Smith, his group of Nittany Lion cornerbacks are led by a pair of veteran returners in Grant Haley and Christian Campbell.

"Both of those guys have played a lot of football for us and we consider both of those guys returning starters, they are having great springs and getting better," Smith said.

Smith noted that both Haley and Campbell are both putting together strong spring campaigns, as returning starters only building their experience from a year ago.  Earlier this week, Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin noted that Campbell is in the midst of his best offseason ever, mentioning he'll be getting a few more reps come fall.

A steady and oftentimes clutch contributor for the Nittany Lions, Haley made headlines when he became the first player in school history to return a blocked field goal for a touchdown in a dramatic victory against Ohio State, going the distance for a 60-yard score off a Marcus Allen block.

Mid-year enrollee Lamont Wade is another Nittany Lion, who Smith said has jumped on the scene since arriving in Happy Valley just about three months ago.

Adding to his top performers, Smith also highlighted Amani Oruwariye, a returning upperclassman who played in 11 games last year. Oruwariye made 23 stops last season, while also recording his first career interception against Kent State, returning it 30 yards for the Nittany Lion touchdown.

"We have four guys I'm feeling really good and positive about who are having great spring balls so far," Smith said.

Lions Getting Back on Track

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's lacrosse (10-1, 1-1 Big Ten) is keen to get back to its winning ways this weekend at Johns Hopkins (6-4, 1-1 Big Ten). Despite falling to Maryland (7-2, 2-0 Big Ten) last Saturday, the Nittany Lions have learned a lot from their first, and only, loss of the season. 

"I'm not sure we reserved enough preparation and confidence during the week of practice leading up to the Maryland game to get us over the hump," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "Maryland is a good team, we certainly learned that over the course of the day, and it always felt like we were coming from behind, which is a challenging venture."

Tambroni noted the Nittany Lions could have done better in a few areas, namely ground balls. The Nittany Lions picked up only 16 ground balls against the Terrapins, compared to Maryland's 34. The previous week, Penn State picked up 34 in its first Big Ten win of the season against Ohio State.

Tambroni said he felt his team had also been extremely focused before facing the Buckeyes two weeks ago, but felt the Nittany Lions had been a little less intensive in practice for the Terrapins. For Tambroni, the key to success this weekend will be Penn State's ability to once again battle it out during the week and give 100 percent in the days leading up to Saturday 

"I think our guys have done a pretty good job at bouncing back and getting right back into a good mindset and having a focus for Johns Hopkins this week," Tambroni said." 

As for the Nittany Lions, senior and captain Nick Aponte said the attack needs to get back to the basics this weekend, focusing on quality of shots on net and communication on the field.

"We met with our leadership cabinet before [Monday's] practice and we kind of just said we need to do the simple things, but we've just got to do it harder," Aponte said. "That's our motto this week and just getting back to little stuff like ground balls and little details on every single play we make."

Aponte said that he and his fellow teammates can't simply save their energy for Saturday. Rather, they need to commit to every practice, even if it's tiring. He's looking toward every single member of the team, from starters to reserves, to be dedicated this week in practice before leaving for Baltimore. Aponte emphasized that this weekend's game will be a team effort. 

"Johns Hopkins just lost to Ohio State, so they're going to have a chip on their shoulder this weekend, we know that," Aponte said. "So we have to answer their attitude this week and we have to work a little bit harder. It's always great playing in Homewood, we always have great games when playing Johns Hopkins the last two years we went to overtime and double overtime, so we know it's going to be a good game."

Despite knowing the Blue Jays will come into the game determined to win, for Aponte, the Nittany Lions first and foremost need to focus on themselves and their game.

"Last week we focused a little too much on the weekend and weren't focused on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday," Aponte said. "So we have to focus on Penn State right now, and just preparing ourselves for Johns Hopkins and bringing everything we've got."

Lions Looking Toward EIVA Finale

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- As Penn State looks toward its EIVA regular season finale, take a closer look at a few potential first round matchups.

Lions Looking Toward EIVA Finale

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  The EIVA Championship push is often one of the most exciting parts of the season for any teams when in contention. For the Penn State men's volleyball, they find themselves in a similar spot, at the top of the EIVA standings with one weekend left in conference play.

Penn State currently sits one game ahead of Saint Francis with a 9-3 record, but because the Nittany Lions hold the tie breaker, they will need to win just one of their final two games against Charleston (W.Va.) and George Mason to clinch the top spot and home court advantage headed into next weekend's EIVA Championship.

The madness of the final weekend of the EIVA regular season doesn't include Penn State though, as the Nittany Lions have locked up a playoff berth, but with five teams separated by single game below them, there is still much to play for. 

Take a possible look at some potential first round matchups for Penn State in the EIVA Championships.

Princeton (11-12, 7-5 EIVA)
The Tigers have been scrappy all season long, especially when it comes to playing the Nittany Lions. In two matches, both teams have gone the distance, with Penn State coming out on top in each outing. Parker Dixon and Kendall Ratter pack a one-two punch on the outside, averaging 2.75 and 2.71 kills per set respectively.

NJIT (13-10, 6-6 EIVA)
Another team playing Penn State extremely tough this season is the Highlanders. In the first match up, the teams went five and Penn State came out with the victory and in the second of the season Penn State came out on top as well. NJIT has arguable one of the most exciting players in the conference in Jabarry Goodridge. Goodridge leads the conference in kills per set with 4.51 and is a beast behind the service line with 45 aces. As Goodridge goes the team goes as well, but he is a player who can single handedly win a series. 

Sacred Heart (13-10, 6-6 EIVA)
Penn State has seen its struggles with Sacred Heart all season long. The Pioneers have dealt the Nittany Lions two of their three conference losses and have looked strong against the best team in the conference. Joshua Ayzenberg has been a rock in the back row, averaging more than three digs per set. The attack for Sacred Heart is balanced with Chris DeLucie leading the way with 264 kills. Four others have at least 125 kills. The Pioneers also serve tough, making them a formidable opponent.

George Mason (13-12, 6-6 EIVA)
George Mason was projected first in the preseason EIVA poll, but stumbled early on and has not been able to regain the form they possessed last year in the conference championships. Still dangerous, Jack Wilson, who has 299 kills is the key to Masons success. He will be tasked with a heavy work load and if Mason can get past Saint Francis and Penn State, they will be in the playoffs, it just wont be easy against the top two teams in the EIVA. 

Harvard (9-12, 6-6 EIVA)
The Crimson are the last of the 6-6 group in the EIVA, and also are still very much alive in the race for a playoff spot. Penn State hasn't dropped a set to Harvard all season long and has dominated the Crimson. Harvard is supported by senior Casey White and freshman Erik Johnsson on the outside. Trevor Dow and Riley Moore are tremendous blockers in the middle of the court. Harvard has some fire power, it is just a matter of consistency and a lack of self inflicted wounds for the Crimson. 

Penn State's road to the EIVA title is yet to be paved and the Nittany Lions are unsure which road blocks will stand in their way. One thing is certain, however, and that is Penn State will have a chance to compete for the EIVA title that eluded them last season and that has been the goal since day one of the 2017 season. 

"That certainly has always been our goal," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "The win on Saturday against Harvard was huge because now we only have to win one game to host and to be able to play a few more games in front of our fans here will be nice." 

Despite a setback against Sacred Heart, Penn State rolled by Harvard in straight sets to secure a berth to the EIVA Championships. The Nittany Lions have now arrived at Friday in hopes they can secure home court sooner rather than later. 

"It is absolutely huge that we get the win Friday," Pavlik said. "We don't want to put more pressure on ourselves than we need to so coming home and having a week to prepare we should be more than ready Friday and hopefully we can get things done."

First serve for both matches against Charleston (W. Va.) and George Mason is set for 7 p.m. Prior to Saturday's matchup, the Nittany Lions will honor their seniors in the annual senior night ceremonies. Chris Nugent and Matt Callaway will be the two Nittany Lions honored, but for Callaway and Nugent, along with the rest of the team, they are hoping Saturday won't be the last time they take the court at Rec Hall this season. 

By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Any regular trip home is always something to look forward to, whether it's for a holiday, celebration, or just a random visit. But a homecoming is always a little bit different, with more excitement and anticipation in the air.

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By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Any regular trip home is always something to look forward to, whether it's for a holiday, celebration, or just a random visit. But a homecoming is always a little bit different, with more excitement and anticipation in the air.

Head coach Amanda Lehotak has been itching to bring her team to her home state of Nebraska, and will finally have that opportunity this weekend when the Nittany Lions take on the Cornhuskers in a three game series.

The matchup marks the first time in program history that Penn State will play Nebraska at Nebraska. Since the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten in 2011, it's been a waiting game for when the Nittany Lions would travel to Lincoln. Lehotak, a native of Omaha, had been eager to circle the date on the calendar, and finally was able to do so when this season's schedule came out.

"Absolutely I'm excited, I'd be lying to you if I said 'no,'" Lehotak said. "And really, just because I do miss so much and I give so much to my job and the coaching and it's always in that season so to be able to go back and share it in front of the people that I love and that support me no matter what and love me no matter what is pretty special."

There's going to be a fairly large contingent on hand to watch Lehotak make her return to Nebraska, including lots of family. One special person in particular who will be on hand is Lehotak's stepdad, who has Alzheimer's, and has always wanted to see his stepdaughter compete back in her home state.

"It was always his dream for us to come back and play there, so for him to see that, hopefully he knows," Lehotak said. "But all my cousins, family, friends, high school buddies are all going to be there so it's going to be pretty cool. Literally everybody in my life lives in Nebraska except me and two other cousins so it's going to be awesome to go back and represent Penn State and play in front of them."

The trip back to Lincoln marks the second time that Lehotak has made her return to Nebraska after leaving the state. She started her collegiate softball career at Ole Miss, where she set the single-season hits record in 2001. After two seasons there, Lehotak transferred to Nebraska-Omaha where she garnered third team All-American honors as well a pair of first team All-North Central Conference selections before graduating in 2003.

"I just needed to go back home," Lehotak said of her decision to leave Ole Miss after two years. "I don't really remember my 20-year old answer versus now my 36-year old answer but I just remember that I needed to go back home and kind of grow up a little bit and UNO gave me that shot. I had the best of both worlds because I got to play in the SEC and then I got to go back and grow up a little bit with my family."

While Lehotak is getting ready and excited for her return home, she's not letting that get in the way of her and her team's preparation for Nebraska.

"On the business side as a coach, I think it's a big series for us," Lehotak said. "It's hard to play at Nebraska, they have one of the best winning percentages at home in the country so for us to go there, it's going to be quite the challenge so we're very focused on that, on how we can beat them at home because they're just historically tough to beat."

The only other time that Penn State has played at Nebraska's Bowlin Stadium was the 2013 Big Ten Tournament. That year, the Nittany Lions went 1-1 with a win over Illinois and a loss to Minnesota.

First pitch for Friday's game is set for 6:30 p.m. followed by a 4 p.m. start time on Saturday and a 1 p.m. start on Sunday.

By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "It wasn't much of a decision," said junior Xavier Smith when choosing to come to Penn State back in 2014.

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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "It wasn't much of a decision," said junior Xavier Smith when choosing to come to Penn State back in 2014.

 

Smith's journey was unlike any usual track athlete. He got a late start, only beginning his track career his junior year at Daniel Boone High School.

 

"I first started track my junior year in high school. It was a little late, I started because I needed to get away from football a little bit," said Smith.

 

Smith wanted to join his brother and give track a try, where he originally wanted to be a thrower.

 

"I decided track was a good option.  My brother ran track in high school so I figured I'd be alright at track because he was pretty good too," said Smith. "I ran all sprints, but I actually wanted to throw because I didn't feel like running, but I did one throwing practice and that wasn't for me."

 

Smith grew up in Douglassville, PA, a community in Amity Union Townships that is little under three hours away from University Park. He knew that Penn State would be his first choice for college from the beginning.

 

"Penn State was always one of my favorite colleges growing up being from Pennsylvania and just watching football games here every weekend. I always wanted to come to Penn State," said Smith.

 

Although he was set on coming to Penn State, he wasn't sure if it would be a possibility after he decided he wanted to pursue track in college.

 

"I didn't know if I was going to be able to come to Penn State because I wanted to do track in college. Then when I started to get better results from my races, I decided it was worth a shot to try track at Penn State and see if I could get on the team there. I contacted them and a week later I came to visit, and a few weeks later I signed for Penn State."

 

Now, Smith is in his third year at Penn State and he knows he made the right decision going to school here. 

 

"Penn State has been great, it's been all I could ask for. Everyday it's definitely something new and I like that. I like the people here, I like the coaches here, I like the atmosphere. Everyone is just a big, big family. It's a really good environment."

 

Smith is now a lead sprinter for the track and field team, where he runs the 60-meter dash, 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and the 4x100 and 4x400-meter relays. He has already made a presence at the Big Ten Championships.

 

This past Big Ten Indoor Championships, Smith was the 60-meter dash champion (6.66) and he finished fourth in the 200-meter dash clocking in with a time of 21.07. Smith was also a part of the school record-breaking 4x4 relay team along with sophomores Dan Chisena, Sam Reiser and Isaiah Harris (3:04.80).

 

"My favorite Penn State memory would definitely be winning the 4x4 at the Big Ten Indoor Championships this year. It was awesome to see my teammate, Isaiah (Harris) catch the guy at the end and bring us a Big Ten gold medal."

 

With outdoor season underway and still another year left of competing, Smith is looking to accomplish a lot more during his time here.

 

"I have another year, so I definitely want get more Big Ten medals, that's the first thing. I want to get a team Big Ten Championship, and at the end of that I want to be an All-American."

Lions Getting Back on Track

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State focused on getting back on track headed into another tough Big Ten weekend on the road.

Spring Football Top Performers: Tight Ends

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Position by position with the Penn State staff checking out spring football top performers among the Nittany Lion tight ends.
By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In front of 5,214 fans, sophomore Sabrina Garcia and junior Briannah Tsang punched two tickets to the 2017 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships in the all-around.

Spring Football Top Performers: Tight Ends

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RELATED: 2017 Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Week four of spring ball practice is nearly complete, drawing the Nittany Lions just days away from Blue-White weekend in Happy Valley.

For Penn State tight ends coach and passing game coordinator Ricky Rahne, his group has continued to make smooth progress throughout the spring season. 

Highlighted of course by standout returner Mike Gesicki, who is coming off of a record-breaking season, Rahne noted that he has only continued to elevate his game, keying in on details this spring.

Aside from individual progress though, Gesicki has also continued to progress as a leader among the unit, blending a few qualities to shape his style.

"His other way of leading is making a play when the team needs it," Rahne said. "I think that's important and having a great attitude, going out there when guys need a play, he's going to make a play. He's also very good at knowing, hey, that was my fault and I messed that up, taking responsibility for things and that trickles down to the rest of the group. "

A few more Nittany Lions have also stepped forward from the group too.

"Jon Holland has done a great job. I think he's coming in with a new focus ever since the winter and he has been ready to go and has made a lot of plays," Rahne said. "His blocking has gotten a lot better and I just see a kid who is really maturing and ready to help us on the field in much more substantial level." 

A recent addition to the Nittany Lion roster, Joe Arcangelo (Clarks Summit, Pa./Abington Heights) has arrived in Happy Valley after spending a year at Bucknell playing in six games for the Bison. 

"He has done a great job, he's made a bunch of plays for us and I'm excited to have him too, a local kid who's doing a nice job," Rahne said. 

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By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In front of 5,214 fans, sophomore Sabrina Garcia and junior Briannah Tsang punched two tickets to the 2017 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships in the all-around.

At the NCAA Gainesville Regional on April 1, Tsang finished fourth in the all-around with a score of 39.250, with Garcia close behind scoring 39.050 for a seventh-place finish.

"We're really excited to get the opportunity to compete at nationals," interim co-head coach Kera Molinaro said. "It's a really exciting opportunity for them and they'll capitalize on it. We just can't wait to represent Penn State at nationals."

To earn her spot for a chance to win a national championship, Tsang was fifth on balance beam (9.850), sixth on floor (9.850), 15th on uneven parallel bars (9.800) and 25th on vault (9.750) at regionals. But, even with those results, Tsang has been working on the small details all week to make sure that she earns the top spot on all the events at nationals.

"[Preparation this week] has been the same as usual," Tsang said. "Just doing routines, practicing and trying to rest, as well. [I've been focusing] mainly on the little things and cleaning things up. I'm making sure the routines are ready for nationals." 

This weekend's trip will not be the first for Tsang as she represented Penn State last season on the floor exercise after earning a score of 9.900 at the 2016 regionals. Last year, Tsang competed in the fourth rotation in session one and tied for 16th with a score of 9.815. Overall, Tsang tied for 38th between the two sessions. 

"It was really exciting last year," Tsang said. "I only competed in floor last year, and this year, I made all-around, so that's exciting. The atmosphere was great and just seeing all these teammates that are from all over the country was exciting, but this year should be even more fun."

Garcia will be joining the fun this year as she will be competing inside the Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, Missouri alongside Tsang.

"It's exciting," Garcia said. "I'm glad to have a teammate with me to cheer me on and I can cheer her on, as well. I'm just excited to share the experience."

Garcia will be making her national championship debut after a stellar performance at regionals. She finished second on uneven parallel bars (9.900), 25th on balance beam (9.725), 31st on floor exercise (9.725) and 34th on vault (9.700). During competition though, the thought of competing in nationals never crossed her mind. 

"I had no idea [I was a contender]," Garcia said. "I just competed until the very end since nothing is over until it's over, and when they called my name, I was shocked and happy all at the same time." 

This season, Tsang has the highest all-around score on the team with 39.425. Garcia holds the second highest all-around score of 39.400 as of February 4 against Michigan State, and is ready to show the world what she can do. 

"My expectations for myself are to just keep doing what I've been doing all season - to focus, stay calm, be ruthless, hit my routines, and if I need any help from Bri, I know she'll be there for me," Garcia said.

These two Nittany Lions have great confidence in themselves, and so do their coaches.

"Both Bri and Sabrina are leaders, not only in their words but in their actions," interim co-head coach Josh Nilson said. "They come in the gym and have great attitudes. They work really hard and they do everything that we ask. They both communicate very well with the coaches, so they're leaders in every sense of the word. We're really proud of them." 

Even though the rest of the Penn State women's gymnastics team won't be heading to St. Louis, Missouri to cheer on Garcia and Tsang, they have been supporting their teammates in the gym during practices. 

"The mood in the gym has been really good," Molinaro said. "[Tsang and Garcia] are super fired-up. They've had a lot of support from their teammates coming in and cheering for them, which was really nice to see and they feel really good. They're excited about it."

Both Tsang and Garcia have accomplished so much this season already. This weekend, they could add on to what has already been a great season for them as individuals, and the team as a whole. 

"Having Bri and Sabrina both there will be good for the team because nationals next year is being held in the same arena, so having them be able to come back and tell the team what it's all about will help us on our quest to nationals next year," Nilson said. "It's also really good to have Penn State represented especially since [Bri and Sabrina] worked really hard to be there and we're really proud of them."

By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the 25th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in town for a doubleheader on Wednesday, it served as a good test for the Nittany Lions in front of their home fans as Big Ten play moves through the season.

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By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the 25th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in town for a doubleheader on Wednesday, it served as a good test for the Nittany Lions in front of their home fans as Big Ten play moves through the season. 

 

Senior pitcher Marlaina Laubach did not disappoint in front of the home supporters.  Laubach spun a gem in game one, hurling her seventh complete game of the year and stymying the Buckeyes offense, leading to her eighth win of the campaign and a 2-1 Penn State victory.  Laubach added in four strikeouts, to give her 55 strikeouts in 90.1 innings pitched this season, and she has gone the distance in every win she's tallied except one.  Despite her stellar performance in the circle all year, her head coach believed this was one of her finest outings.

 

"[Ohio State} doesn't strike out much, so for her to get some strikeouts looking, that's pretty impressive.  It was probably one of the best games I've seen Marly throw in a long time," said coach Amanda Lehotak. 

 

Even more impressive was the offense plating runs against a pitcher who no-hit them just one season ago.  The Blue & White got to the Buckeye ace Shelby Hursh in the fourth inning, as a Destiny Weber blast scraped off the top of the left field wall, missing a home run by inches but bringing home two runs.  Laubach did the rest, allowing only one earned run that didn't come until the top of the seventh inning.  Even in innings where Penn State didn't score, the team hit several hard lines drives to the outfield that ended up being caught, but they were right on top of Hursh all evening. 

 

The defense did its part as well.  With the sun glaring in the outfield, Rebecca Ziegler shielded her eyes with her glove and made two superb grabs in centerfield, helping to slow down a potential Ohio State offensive rally. 

 

Second baseman Gianna Arrizurieta served as the spark plug for the offense, leading off two separate innings with a single and a walk, respectively, to give her squad a chance for a big inning.

 

In game two, Penn State showed resiliency after going down early 9-2.  The team never gave up, rallying to cut the deficit to 10-7, the eventual final score.  Madison Shaffer pitched well in relief, going four innings and only giving up one earned run, giving the bats a chance to mount a comeback.  Even though a frenetic comeback came up just short, the team showed heart, something that Lehotak stressed has been happening all season, both at home and on the road.

 

"We're finally showing people who we are...to see them do that, it's kind of what they've done all year.  We're finally starting to find some holes [at bat], so I'm really proud of our offense."

 

"We had a couple of situations where we had the bases loaded," she added.  "We're right there, so sometimes, we just need to make one more play on defense or offense to bust through."

 

Splitting a doubleheader against a top-25 team is a nice way to begin a week that should prove to be an emotional one for the Lions.  On Friday, Lehotak leads her team against Nebraska on the road, a trip back to her home state.  The head coach has never played a game in Lincoln since she has been with Penn State.

 

With a possibility to get a few more Big Ten conference wins this week, things are looking up for a softball team that has been fighting and scrapping all season long.  The first game of a three game set is scheduled for Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET.  Friday's contest will begin at 4 p.m. ET, while the rubber game begins at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.  Penn State's next home game will be next week; a nonconference doubleheader against the Bucknell Bison at Beard Field.  

Pilewicz Shines in First Career Start

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Former walk-on Jake Pilewicz had never started a game on the hill before Wednesday night's home outing against Bucknell, earning a win in his first career start.

Pilewicz Shines in First Career Start

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Former walk-on Jake Pilewicz had never started a game on the hill before Wednesday night's home outing against Bucknell.

 

He has pitched strictly out of the bullpen this season, logging 11 relief appearances and striking out eight in 13.2 innings. In Penn State's fifth game in a five-day stretch with many Nittany Lion arms running on empty, head coach Rob Cooper placed his confidence--and the ball--in Pilewicz's hand to end a recent skid.

 

"I knew we were a little short-staffed, but I was really excited," Pilewicz said. "I started in high school and I was just really excited to get the opportunity."

 

Pilewicz struggled a bit in the early innings, but his resilience and ability to get out of seemingly impossible jams kept the Bison off the scoreboard.

 

In the first inning, Pilewicz gave up two straight hits with one out then walked Keifer Rawlings to load the bases. Without panicking, Pilewicz went after the next two batters and forced two short pop outs to quell the scoring threat.

 

In the third inning, Pilewicz loaded the bases again but this time with no outs--the closest scenario to major trouble for pitchers. Similarly, Pilewicz calmly worked of out the jam, and he only needed two batters to do it.

 

He first forced Bucknell's Luke Johnson to line into a double play as Christian Helsel caught the screamer and quickly tossed to Conlin Hughes to double up Sam Clark at second. Pilewicz then got an easy fielder's choice ground out from Miles Moore to end the inning.

 

Through the first three innings, Pilewicz held Bucknell to seven runners left on base and five left in scoring position without scoring a run.

 

"He went after it instead of trying to nibble around guys," Cooper said. "I'm really proud of him and the way he competed. He just wants to do well and he competes."

 

Pilewicz said his approach was to attack hitters and not walk anyone in those situations.

 

"You got to let the ball be put in play and you got to trust your defense, and they came through for me huge today," Pilewicz said.

 

Pilewicz surrendered two runs in the fifth inning that gave the Bison a 2-0 lead, but his teammates picked him up in the bottom of the inning by scoring four runs. Thanks to Penn State's offensive surge in the fifth inning, Pilewicz recorded his first career win in his first career start.

 

Pilewicz finished his five-inning performance with two earned runs and seven hits allowed, lowering his season ERA.

 

Cooper didn't rule out the possibility that Pilewicz would be able to supply more starts, but he said he loves Pilewicz's versatility right now.

 

"The great thing about him is he's a flexible guy," said Cooper. "He's a guy that's going to work hard and probably be ready and available for Sunday at some point if we need him. It's nice to know that we have that in our back pocket if we need it."

 

Hughes and Helsel, who completed the crucial third inning double play to keep Bucknell off the scoreboard, supplied the four runs in the fifth inning to give Pilewicz his first win.

 

"It's definitely exciting and kind of relieving in the dugout to just get some energy," Hughes said. "It makes guys just want to perform well and keep it going throughout the rest of the game."

 

With two outs, Hughes cleared the bases with a triple to give Penn State a 3-2 lead. Helsel then singled him in a few pitches later to stretch the lead to two. The Lions held the lead for the remainder of the game and held on to win 5-3 to snap their streak of seven losses in eight games.

 

Cooper also commended both Pilewicz and Hughes after the game for their competitiveness in the last few weeks.

 

"Even though we've been struggling a little bit, their competitive spirit is why you can see our guys don't quit," said Cooper.

 

Hughes and Helsel led the charge offensively with two hits apiece. Austin Riggings recorded his second RBI of the season in just his second start with a single in the sixth inning that scored Brett Davis. Riggins reached base three times in the game.

 

"For [Riggins] to do that and battle in tough [at-bats] and stuff like that and see him perform well it's really good for our team since we don't have that much depth right now."

Five Takeaways from Spring Practice Media

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Looking back at five takeaways from spring ball media with James Franklin, Trace McSorley and Grant Haley.
By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It would be an understatement to say this year for the Penn State women's lacrosse program has been nothing short of special. Even in all the history held in the stiches of each Blue and White jersey that steps onto the field each game, this group of girls has come out and strung together a season that stands up with the best in the program's history.

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It would be an understatement to say this year for the Penn State women's lacrosse program has been nothing short of special. Even in all the history held in the stiches of each Blue and White jersey that steps onto the field each game, this group of girls has come out and strung together a season that stands up with the best in the program's history.

 

Among the season's accomplishments are a 13-1 start that matches the programs best since 1989, when the Nittany Lions did the same and rode onto a 19-1 final record and a national championship victory. Playing road games are tough, but Penn State currently boasts a 6-0 road record outside of Happy Valley. The squad still has to travel to tough Big Ten foes in Northwestern and Michigan, but if it can stay perfect it would be the first time since 1985 that the team has done so in the regular season. And also, the Nittany Lions have three scorers with over 30 goals each, with those same three players combining for 171 total points on the season.

 

Of course, with a season so special, there have to be special players as well. Penn State has exactly that in senior attacker Steph Lazo, a player who has continued to etch her name in the record books as she finishes her final act.

 

"It's really special. Coming in you kind of always want to make an impact and you just constantly want to raise your game," Lazo said. "Every year I've been here I've improved I think and it was just a personal goal of mine for the regular season to try and hit 200 points."

 

Not only that, but with her current pace and career standings, she has a chance to join an even more exclusive club.

 

Already having amassed 194 career points (T-13 all-time in program history) and 79 assists (T-7), with just five more goals (currently at 115) she can also move into the top-15 all-time in career goals for the Blue and White, making her just one of nine people who can say they share that company.

 

So what is it that the attacker brings to the game that has brought her such vast success over her storied collegiate career? Head coach Missy Doherty says it's her leadership, ability to finish, and speed that makes her one of the quickest attackers in the nation.  Those all factor into how she has been able to leave it all out on the field. But along with those, the coach said maybe most important of all was the genuine excitement she has for the game.

 

"No one celebrates harder than she does after a score and I think from a momentum standpoint when you have someone that gives you that energy after a big play it certainly helps the team," Doherty said.

Lazo not only makes an impact on each game scoring, but she also gets her teammates involved. As the team leader in assists while ranking sixth in the country with 33 on the season, she finds it crucial to spread the wealth and believes that her and the team only get better with the chemistry of her teammates.

"I think being a team player is a huge part of my game because I love helping my teammates and stuff like that and seeing their successes is literally one of those things that I feed off of," Lazo said.

 

She has done a lot in her career in Happy Valley, but among her accolades, Lazo said the best part about her journey has been the team's ability to go further each and every year her senior class has been here. Doherty agreed and said the program has been on the rise right along with her.  

                            

"I think our program has grown as she's grown," Doherty said. "From her freshman year doing well to her sophomore year winning Big Ten's and then junior year going to the final four, she's kind of met right where our program has gotten better. So certainly her having the year that's she's having this year has reflected on our team's performance."


If her future is as successful as she has been in between the lines, Lazo will have a career full of big accomplishments and success. Her plan is to one day become a coach and to bring her unique aspect of the game to her coaching. If coaching is not in the cards though, the Rehabilitation and Human Services major has a plan to move into child life series by becoming a specialist in dealing with pediatric cancer.

 

But for now the future can wait. The regular and postseason still have roughly two months left, and Lazo and this senior class as a whole want to make the most of the time they have left. With the achievements this class has had, a national championship still remains the ultimate goal they have yet to conquer.

 

Until their fate is decided through the road the team still has to travel, Lazo and her teammates will wait, but that does not mean they can't hold back from their overall excitement in what lies ahead.

 

This year we can't wait to see what happens," Lazo said.

Five Takeaways from Spring Practice Media

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RELATED: 2017 Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just three practices remain before the Nittany Lions return to Beaver Stadium for Blue-White weekend in Happy Valley. With spring ball well underway, head coach James Franklin quarterback Trace McSorley and cornerback Grant Haley all took time to meet with members of the media follow practice at the Lasch Football building.

Gauging Spring Progress
As Franklin has mentioned in earlier sessions, early enrollees and an increase in depth have all factored in to spring ball progress this year. With spring practice also presenting a variety of opportunities for competitions at various positions and younger Nittany Lions to step up, Franklin still notes that as much as evaluation is on an individual level, it's also on a team level too.

"When somebody can't practice for whatever reason it may be, then the next guy goes in and it's are you able to stop people on defense with substitutions in, are you able to move the ball on offense," Franklin said. "I think overall it's been good, we've have more depth than we've had in the past." 

More Praise for Johnson
Wide receiver Juwan Johnson has been a spring ball top performer pick on numerous occasions for the Nittany Lions. For McSorley, Johnson has been looking to step in and fill the opening left behind by standout wide receiver Chris Godwin, taking extra time in the weight room to get in more work.

"I think for the team to see him doing that and it paying off on the field, I think that's why you're starting to see and hear his name more and more because it's something that you love seeing guys who put in all the work and it comes to fruition on the field," McSorley said. "On top of that he's big, fast, strong, he's running routes clean, he's getting separation, so he has just done a tremendous job in each period continuing to get better and better."

Who's Snapping and Who's Holding
Who's snapping and who's holding are questions Franklin noted he isn't asked often, but happy to see Penn State getting closer to sorting it out following the graduation of Tyler Yazujian, who handled snapping duties for the Nittany Lions for as many as 40 games.

"Right now, [Kyle] Vasey's done a tremendous job for us snapping the ball, I've been very pleased with him and then there's a battle right now between Blake Gillikin and Billy Fessler for the holding job," Franklin said. "I think we all know that our kicker can knock the ball through the uprights but I think people under appreciate the importance of the long snapper and the holder."

Investing in Turnovers
Franklin noted that just like the receivers and tight ends learn to get comfortable catching on the jug machines, he'd also like to see Penn State's entire defense building confidence in going straight for the grab for an interception at just the right time to increase opponent turnovers.

"I think you can take a good defense and become great or take a great defense and become elite by just making that change," Franklin said. "If we did nothing different but increased our turnovers next year, it would have a dramatic impact on our defense and it would have a dramatic impact obviously on our offense as well. 

Campbell Stepping Up
Both Haley and Franklin noted that cornerback Christian Campbell has been making steady progress, with Franklin noting he's having perhaps the best offseason he has ever had. Campbell played in 12 games last year, making a pair of starts. Bringing tremendous speed, Franklin also noted that Campbell spent time getting bigger and stronger heading into spring ball.

"Christian is playing unbelievably confident right now," Haley said. "He's feeling healthy, now that he's healthy, he's a long guy, a fast guy, he's athletic and he can jump out of the roof so I think he's feeling more comfortable in the defensive system and more confident in himself. At cornerback you're going to get beat but it's the next play mentality and I think he's taking a step forward with that.

Reach Arielle at ans26@psu.edu or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

Cabinda Setting The Tone

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Back for a final season in Happy Valley, senior captain Jason Cabinda is setting the tone headed toward training camp.

Cabinda Setting The Tone

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RELATED: 2017 Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's been a while since All-Big Ten linebacker Jason Cabinda announced his decision to return to Penn State for his final season of eligibility in 2017. His decision, coming just days after tight end Mike Gesicki announced he'll return, also fell a little more than a week prior to safety Marcus Allen's decision to remain at Penn State for the 2017 season.

For Cabinda, the decision wasn't one he spent much time agonizing over, noting that he was actually about 90 percent sure of his choice come time to make the call.

"I wanted to make sure that I had my degree, that's what I came for at the end of the day, so leaving with a degree was very important to me," Cabinda said. "My mom's a teacher so academics have always been the number one thing, that's just how it's always been." 

Coupled with his passion to walk across the stage at graduation though, the economics major saw what nearly every Nittany Lion would also attest to not only seeing, but feeling too - that something truly special is happening in Happy Valley.

Nearing the end of Penn State's 15-practice spring season, Cabinda has dialed up the intensity along with the rest of the team and it's no secret that practices are fiercely competitive in a very welcome change of pace.

"We've seen a lot of guys grow up, be mature and make a lot of play that they weren't making before," Cabinda said. "A lot of guys are standing out, there's a lot of talent so it's awesome and really cool to see the guys grow and make plays."

For Cabinda, spring season is a time for the senior captain to continue to grow as a leader. Just before the start of spring practice, Cabinda, along with Trace McSorley and Nick Scott were all named 2017 team captains.

"It's so special," Cabinda said. "I think to me, being an athlete, the biggest honor you can get is having the respect of your peers, teammates and coaches to be able to lead."

A naturally vocal leader who doesn't shy away from what needs to be said, Cabinda noted that part of leading in spring ball is simply setting the tone, showing younger members of the team how to practice and continuing to set the standard and example for an environment rich with competitive drive. 

"You have guys on the first, second, third, fourth string defense who can all really play," Cabinda said. "You can see that they're going to be really good players and that's the biggest thing." Knowing that everyday in practice I'm going to be going up against the best running back in the country, the best route running tight end, the best tight end in the country period, that motivates you."

That competitive drive is also what's sparked perhaps one of the biggest takeaways from spring practice.

"Guys are coming off the field and they're talking, they're talking about what happened in that play and what might have gone wrong because they want to be right so bad," Cabinda said. "When you see that, I think that's something that's different as well because guys want to be right, guys care so much about doing well and being good players that they constantly want to know. I think I've been seeing the overall investment and sacrifice of the team go up and it's paid off." 

Through all the progress that's being made across the board and managing both a broader and larger leadership role, Cabinda is also keenly focused on what's happening among his own unit.

For Cabinda, that starts with himself, noting that among other reasons, a piece of returning to Penn State for another season also meant another year to continue to develop into a compete linebacker, mentioning last week reshaping his body to maintain the perfect balance of optimal speed and physicality.

With the departure of All-Big Ten linebacker Brandon Bell, Cabinda noted that matching that level of production is a top priority, but one he's confident that experienced Nittany Lions Manny Bowen and Koa Farmer, can also help to fill. Those aren't the only two that Cabinda noted could step up, reflecting on a rash of injuries last season that thrust a variety of Nittany Lions on to the big stage, even on the fly.

"Being able to have a second deep, a third deep, backups who can play just as well as the starter, that's really important," Cabinda said. "I think coach Franklin does a really good job making sure the third and fourth guys are really preparing themselves as if they are starters because that's the mentality you have to have." 

More than anything though, the sting of the Rose Bowl loss is still something that crosses Cabinda's mind headed into his final season in the Blue and White. As Blue-White weekend quickly approaches, the end of spring ball might be in sight, but for Cabinda that's when planning begins.

From workouts to meetings and prep, it's often hard from the outside to see just how much hard work and dedication goes into each and every day working toward training camp. That type of commitment focused on getting right to work, is exactly what's driving the legacy that Cabinda hopes to leave behind, one he describes as a Penn State team that's gritty and blue collar in its approach, but now with a freshness about it, or as he puts it, some Swagger.

Three-Run Seventh Not Enough For Lions

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State cut its deficit to 5-2, but a three-run seventh inning wasn't enough to lift the Nittany Lions past Binghamton Tuesday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Three-Run Seventh Not Enough For Lions

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK - "That's my friend! That's my friend," the Penn State student section chanted as Logan Goodnight was hit by a pitch to bring home Ryan Sloniger in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Penn State cut its deficit to 5-2 and the Cooperstown student section really started to get into the game after not seeing much action early on.  

For the first four and a third innings, the Nittany Lions could not figure out how to hit Binghamton's starting pitcher Jake Miller. Entering the night, Miller had three appearances on the year with a 1.59 ERA. 

"From a pitcher's point of view, I think [Miller] did a good job of mixing speeds," Penn State pitcher Eric Mock said. "He was a little bit effectively wild in a sense. He didn't command the strike zone great, but he did a good enough job of mixing speeds. His two-seam was a little bit slower and just kept hitters off balance."

The Nittany Lions picked up their first hit of the night in the fifth inning off of the bat of Brett Davis. Despite Davis' single to centerfield, Penn State failed to get a run on the board.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Nittany Lions' most dependable hitter this season stepped up to the plate. Jordan Bowersox drove the first pitch he saw down the left field line to get the inning started.

"He's doing a great job and he's a guy you can count on, but I don't think he realizes how good he can really be still," Penn State head coach Rob Cooper said. "I think there's a whole other dimension to his game and we just have to get him out of that little comfort zone that he's in. But, it's definitely nice knowing he's going to give you quality at bats every time he goes up."

Sloniger followed Bowersox's lead by singling down the right field line to put runners on first and second. With a single to left field, Christian Helsel picked up his 15th RBI of the season as Bowersox crossed the plate. 

With bases loaded, freshman Logan Goodnight came up to bat. On the fifth pitch of his at bat, Goodnight took a pitch off of his left arm to bring home the second run of the game and cut Penn State's deficit to 5-2. As Goodnight trotted down the first baseline, his faithful student section had his back by yelling at the pitcher for hurting "their friend."

Austin Riggins then worked a five-pitch walk to pick up his first RBI of the 2017 season as Helsel stepped on the plate. With the score at 5-3 after going hitless for more than four innings, the Nittany Lions needed to hold the Binghamton offense. 

After Penn State starting pitcher Schuyler Bates' six-inning outing, Cooper called on Mock to take the mound. Mock had pitched two-thirds of an inning in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader against Ohio State giving up four runs. After briefly working in Penn State's starting rotation, Mock went back to the reliving role on Sunday and in the seventh inning on Monday.

"It is tough coming in as a reliever, but the key is trying to find a routine, which yesterday I wasn't really able to do," Mock said. "Today, I had a little bit more time to warm up and kind of get my routine right. I also thought about my game plan more and kind of slow the game down before I went in." 

Bouncing back from his Sunday outing, the redshirt freshman pitched two innings of scoreless baseball. In the top of the ninth, Paul Rufo fisted an inside pitch into shallow right field for an RBI single to take the lead 6-3.

"I was glad that Coop[er] let me go out there today because luckily I have been blessed with a sound mind," Mock said. "I may be listed as a freshman, but I have been here for two years now and I think that I'm wise enough to understand that I am going to go through some growing pains and there will be some bumps in the road. So, I learned a lot from my last two outings that weren't the best, but I think, in the end, it's going to make me a better pitcher and I am glad I was able to get out there tonight and bounce back a little bit."

Despite a late seventh-inning charge by Penn State, the Nittany Lions ultimately fell to the Bearcats 6-3.

"We are not doing enough offensively to put us in a position to finish that off," Cooper said. "I am proud of the guys for fighting and competing, but the thing is that is what we should be doing. We represent an unbelievable university and we get to play the game of baseball. Like I told the guys in the locker room, when we all decided we wanted to be at Penn State, me included, it was because we want to do great things and be successful. Well, if it's not going great you can't all of the sudden change your mind. You have to keep fighting and keep pushing and that's what we are going to do."

Penn State will host its fifth game in four days on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. against Bucknell at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Spring Football Top Performers: Offensive Line

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Position by position with the Penn State coaching staff for a closer look at who's exceeding expectations on the offensive line.

Spring Football Top Performers: Offensive Line

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RELATED: 2017 Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Another week of spring ball has arrived and the Nittany Lions are still hard at work prepping for Blue-White weekend in Happy Valley. 

As offensive line coach Matt Limegrover noted in his top performers session, spring ball often presents new opportunities for new guys to step up.

"Putting that together with a couple of the injuries that we've had, a lot of the young guys are able to get a lot of reps," Limegrover said.

It's no surprise that Limegrover noted that Connor McGovern is among his top performer selections. Since head coach James Franklin announced that McGovern would make the move from guard to center taking over for Brian Gaia, fellow offensive lineman Ryan Bates said earlier last week that McGovern was settling into his new role well, while also continuing to develop as a leader. 

Limegrover's picks also include Bates, as well as Will Fries and Sterling Jenkins, both who have stepped forward this spring.

Bates made the move from left guard to left tackle last year, starting in all 14 games, earning Freshman All-America honors via USA Today and the Football Writers Association of America. 

"Having to move him [Bates] to tackle late in the season, he's starting to feel more and more comfortable, you can see at every practice he's really raising his level of play," Limegrover said.

Fries redshirted last season, while Jenkins played in 11 games after a redshirt season in 2015.

Limegrover also noted that perhaps the surprise of his group is mid-year enrollee Mike Miranda, who has wasted no time making an impact in just a short amount of time on campus. 

"You know three months ago he was still in high school and he's out here competing against our starting d-line and really holding his own, doing a nice job, and I'm really proud of him," Limegrover said. 

Much like McGovern, both Franklin and Bates had high praise for one of the newest Nittany Lions.

Reach Arielle at ans26@psu.edu or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

Breakout Day for Hagenman

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Justin Hagenman turned in a breakout performance on the mound despite the Nittany Lions dropping both games in a Sunday doubleheader

Breakout Day for Hagenman

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Justin Hagenman turned in a breakout performance on the mound despite dropping both games in a Sunday doubleheader to complete the home series with Ohio State.

 

Game one was dominated by the sophomore right hander. Hagenman tossed a season-high eight innings and allowed a season-best one run while striking out eight Buckeyes.

 

Hagenman managed to get out of multiple jams and keep Ohio State off the scoreboard after allowing a run in the second inning. The Buckeyes stranded nine runners on base and six in scoring position against Hagenman.

 

"My arm felt good today," Hagenman said. "My goal today, and everyday really, was just to go out as long as I could and keep us in the game as long as I could."

 

Head coach Rob Cooper said he loved the way Hagenman battled through his longest outing of the year.

 

"That was an unbelievable effort," Cooper said. "He got every bit out of his 115 pitches today, and I'm just really, really proud of him. He competed and gave us a chance to win."

 

Hagenman was in line for his second win of the year heading into the ninth with a one-run lead, but Ohio State scored four in the frame off Eric Mock to spoil Hagenman's strong outing. The Buckeyes held on to take game one, 5-2.

 

Hagenman owns a 1-5 record this season in eight starts, but in the last five games he has toed the rubber, Penn State has averaged just 1.8 runs per game.

 

The Lions haven't scored more than three runs in any of Hagenman's five losses this year.

 

"We've got to be better offensively," Cooper said. "We're trying to work through some things, but on the flip side of that, the thing that the pitchers always have to keep in mind is they can't control what the hitters do. They can control their outing and their effort and their competitive spirit."

 

Hagenman lowered his ERA Sunday by more than a run to 4.04. He leads the team this season with 47.2 innings pitched and is second on the squad in strikeouts with 47.

 

Nick Riotto and Ryan Sloniger paced the offense with two hits apiece in game one.

 

Penn State scored both runs in the third inning on a passed ball and a Braxton Giavedoni sacrifice fly. The Lions then managed to load the bases in the inning with two outs but were unable to cash in another run.

 

Feeding off its ninth inning comeback in game one, Ohio State rode its momentum into game two and ran away with an 11-2 victory to win the three-game series.

 

Conlin Hughes hit a first inning homerun for his third of the season and Penn State's 16th in 2017, matching its total from last year.

 

"We just got to put the weekend behind us, move forward and set our sights on Binghamton and Bucknell and move forward from there."

By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The fifth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions, for most of the first half, found themselves in uncharted territory.
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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The fifth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions, for most of the first half, found themselves in uncharted territory.

 

With a command in time of possession thanks to owning the draw control, it was the Virginia Cavaliers that took a note from the Nittany Lions' playbook and got out to a fast start. With Penn State facing a sizable deficit and playing an unfamiliar role, the squad needed to find a way to get back to their usual style of play and bounce back.

 

Following a Virginia goal to make it a 5-2 lead for the visitors, head coach Missy Doherty took initiative and called a timeout with 12:36 remaining in the first half. The team understood what they needed to do, and on Senior Day the players knew who to look to to lead the way.

 

Seniors Cat Rainone and Abby Smucker took charge with both their play and composure. While both were aware of the current situation, they kept things cool and collected, and the rest of the team followed suit.

 

"We definitely have the athleticism on the team so that wasn't an area where we were struggling, it was more mentally, so we just needed to regroup as a team, calm each other down and stay composed and just finish on the small things," Smucker said. Rainone seconded that with words of advice for her fellow teammates like "next play" and "still a lot of time left" to make sure the team's mindset was focused on the right things.

 

The rest of the team answered their call as the Nittany Lions would rally to score 10 of the contest's final 13 goals in a 12-8 win. But, while the offense eventually got going, it was the defense that opened the door.

 

Virginia continued to hold onto the ball for long stretches of play, keeping the Penn State defense constantly on its toes. Constantly mirroring the Cavaliers quick attackers, the Blue and White kept them contained and made plays as needed. Rainone stepped up and made two huge saves on shots that would have kept Virginia rolling, but the senior goalkeeper shut each attempt down with standup saves from a stick's length out. She would go on to have 14 saves on the day

 

Good defense turned into good offense as the final three minutes of the half came with a huge swing in momentum.

 

Freshman Maria Auth was hit on a pass while striding down the field into Cavalier territory. She crossed in front of the net without letting off a shot and ended up losing possession, but there to scoop up the ground ball next to the goal was senior attacker Steph Lazo who quickly rifled off a shot while colliding with a Virginia defender. The ball blew by the goalie and gave Penn State its first goal in nearly 18 minutes, making it a 6-3 deficit.

                         

A heads up charge taken by Smucker with 57 seconds left would win the Nittany Lions the ball late in the half, and a following penalty by Virginia's Maggie Jackson gave Penn State a brief advantage. It ended up being just enough for Penn State as Katie O'Donnell squeaked a goal into the half's final four seconds and gave the Nittany Lions a much-needed boost heading into the half that led to their second half win.  

 

Also providing them life was the record crowd on hand to witness the top-five team's Senior Day game. The game saw 922 people scattered across the hill and the bleachers, giving Penn State the encouragement it needed to mount a comeback.

 

"When something goes our way and the crowd cheers it definitely swings the momentum in our favor and I think today was a home field advantage for sure," Rainone said.


After the break, it took the Blue and White just under nine and a half minutes to even the score at six. The teams again would trade goals, but with 16:33 remaining, Maggie Gallagher broke through to give Penn State the 8-7 lead, its first since the matchup's opening eight minutes.

 

Success at the draw spoke volumes for the Nittany Lions' offensive burst. After losing six of the game's first eight, Penn State crawled back to win the war with a 13-9 lead in the department at the end of the day.

 

The players continued to carry solid defense into quality offense and owned the closing 10 minutes. Two more goals by O'Donnell, giving her a team-high four on the day, and three more total would allow Penn State to close the game strong and give the unit the Senior Day win. The win marks the Blue and White's 13th on the year and gives the program six straight wins.

 

While it was not the smoothest ride, the end result was still as Penn State hoped and allowed the seniors to cap off their special day in style.

 

"The past four years have been great here, and like I've said before, each year we've made strides in the right direction as a program, so to finish on a high note here on Senior Day was awesome," Smucker said.

 

Best of Spring Ball

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- It's another week closer to Blue-White weekend in Happy Valley, catch up on all the week three action.

Best of Spring Ball

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Biasi Helps Nittany Lions to First B1G Win

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Pitcher Sal Biasi helps Penn State to its first conference victory in the first game of a three-set series.

Biasi Helps Nittany Lions to First B1G Win

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - All season long Sal Biasi has earned the important task of starting the first game of three and four-game sets for Penn State.

 

Often, it's performances in these games set the tone not just for the opening game, but for the entire series. In all three of Biasi's wins this year, Penn State went on to win or split the series. The Lions split four-game sets with Xavier and Columbia and won two-of-three against Sacramento State when Biasi claimed the win in each of the first games of the respective series.

 

"Coming out and being able to be in a good rhythm and keep our hitters up at the plate instead of standing out there for a long time I think is just huge with the rhythm of the team and confidence going into the next two [games]," Biasi said.

 

Head coach Rob Cooper noted that Biasi is one of the leaders of the team and he knows how crucial his role on the pitching staff is.

 

"He really wants to see us do well and win, so when he goes out and has a good day and kind of sets the tone, I think it gives everybody else a lot of confidence," Cooper said.

 

Biasi's strong performance in Saturday's series opener against Ohio State bodes well for the Lions this weekend, who will finish off the three-game set in a Sunday doubleheader.

 

Saturday's 6-2 victory against the Buckeyes gave Biasi his fourth win of the season to push his 2017 record to 4-3. He recorded a season-high 6.2 innings in the game, striking out nine and allowing just one unearned run on three hits.

 

"I felt like I got ahead and really commanded my pitches," Biasi said. "I knew if I got ahead I would be able to put them away."

 

Cooper also noted that Biasi has matured a ton from last year, pitching more to contact instead of trying to do too much.

 

"When you've got his kind of stuff and you can get ahead of guys and they can't get anything comfortable to hit, it makes his job a lot easier," Cooper said. "I thought he did a heck of a job."

 

Biasi lowered his ERA to 4.15 in the win, which is the lowest mark among regular starters for Penn State. He leads the team in strikeouts (56) and opponent batting average (.169) this season.

 

Biasi has produced eye-popping strikeout numbers this year. He leads the Big Ten in punch outs and before Saturday's game his 13.08 strikeouts per nine innings pitched ranked 12th in the country.

 

Offensively, Braxton Giavedoni, Christian Helsel and Joe Weisenseel recorded multi-hit games to pace the Nittany Lions. Jordan Bowersox had an RBI single in the sixth inning to stretch his hitting streak to eight games.

 

Penn State scored two runs in both the second and third innings. A Ryan Sloniger sacrifice bunt in the second inning turned into the first run of the game after an Ohio State throwing error allowed Helsel to score from second base.

 

Sloniger then cracked a two-RBI triple in the next inning to open up a 4-0 lead, and Penn State cruised to the win from there.

 

"He worked me away the whole at-bat, and I fouled some pitches off," Sloniger said. "He didn't really give me anything I can handle. I just wanted to obviously cash in at least one, get a good knock there and get us going offensively."

 

The win gave Penn State its first Big Ten victory of the season. The Lions currently sit at 12-17 and 1-3 in the conference.

 

"I thought our guys battled," Cooper said. "That's the second game in a row where I think the way we competed was at the level that we expect 

No Regrets for Gesicki in 2017

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Catching up with tight end Mike Gesicki on his decision to return to Penn State for a final season and a closer look at spring ball.

No Regrets for Gesicki in 2017

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RELATED: 2017 Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's nine practices into Penn State's 2017 spring season and Nittany Lion tight end Mike Gesicki doesn't look back on his late December decision to return to Happy Valley for a final season in the Blue and White with any regret.

Gesicki's decision to remain at Penn State for his senior season came weeks after he helped guide the Nittany Lions to their first Big Ten Championship since 2008 and fourth overall in a gritty comeback win against Wisconsin, and just days before hitting the road for Pasadena, California for the 103rd Rose Bowl Game.

"I obviously saw everything that was happening positively here at Penn State, the future we had coming, and guys coming back, the talent that we had," Gesicki said. "I knew from my personal experience that I had room to improve and things that I had to get better at. To come back to a football team with high expectations and kind of the sky's the limit for us, it made me see that there's no better option than to come back to Penn State and this great university and take full advantage of another year at school before moving forward." 

The path to reaching even greater heights in 2017 began in winter workouts, where Gesicki, like others, noted the goal to strengthen not only physical, but mental toughness was at the forefront of setting the tone headed toward spring ball.

For Gesicki, spring ball this year means putting together the pieces from a wildly successful 2016 season. 

Gesicki was as a shining example of one of those pieces.

The product of an intense commitment to offseason improvement, including a social media blackout, Gesicki silenced his critics from the start, with the first of a record-setting five touchdown catches by a tight end coming in the very first game of the season. 

From an acrobatic one-handed grab against Temple to a timely second-quarter touchdown catch leaping in between a pair of Trojan defenders at the Rose Bowl, Gesicki quickly emerged as one of quarterback Trace McSorley's top targets. 

Starting all 14 games, nearly every week featured an eye-popping Gesicki grab, as he climbed to the top of the Penn State record book with 48 receptions and 679 yards, both marks the most for a Nittany Lion tight end all-time and second on the team behind wide receiver Chris Godwin.

 Now in the final stretch of spring practice leading up to the annual Blue-White Game, the motivation is certainly still alive for Gesicki.  

"We don't have a team or a game plan to focus on so in a way, you can be selfish and not have to focus on things outside of the program and just focus on us," Gesicki said. "We kind of take these 15 practices to fix the problems and the minor setbacks that we had during the season and make everything click in the spring so when training camp hits and it gets going, we're working at full speed."

For Gesicki spring ball also means stepping into an even larger leadership role than before, as not only a senior, but a leader among his position group too.

"I've become a lot more comfortable in my role on the team so I've been able to step outside of my box, and know what my role is on a specific play or what I have to worry about on that specific play and then be able to go be a vocal leader, to help out guys with their assignment on the play," Gesicki said.

Understanding his role on each play goes much further for Gesicki though, who also pointed out that everyone on the team has approached spring practice with a greater awareness of their own role on the team.

"I think last year guys were trying to find their role, trying to understand a new system with a new offensive coordinator and a new defensive coordinator," Gesicki said. "Now we're a year forward and everybody knows their role and knows their assignment to play fast and play to the best of their ability. I think that's the most exciting thing because that's when the team is going to have the most success, when you know your role and you know your assignment and you're not second guessing yourself or the system and you're buying into what the coaches are preaching on a daily basis and you're playing at the highest level." 

Combined with the initiative to make Penn State the most competitive atmosphere in college football, for Gesicki, the level of competition in each spring practice has only continued to rise.

"Every single period is like the national championship game, everybody is going so hard on every single play and showing how important it is for us to get better and to compete with our offense against our defense at such a high level, it's really paying dividends for us and it's really effective," Gesicki said.

With the 2017 on the horizon, Gesicki's decision he made more than three months ago is perhaps now more than ever, one he's excited to see through.

"To kind of sit here and look back from a year ago to where this team is now, we are light years ahead of where we were last year and I think that's going to only show in the season when we're a little more comfortable and there's more continuity and we're a year further in the system," Gesicki said. "I think there are a lot of things to be excited about at Penn State."

Reach Arielle at ans26@psu.edu or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Even with how unpredictable college lacrosse can be, as seasons come and go, there are always a few guarantees; games will be won and lost, one team will ultimately be happier than the rest, and some careers will inevitably reach their end. Sports can sometimes take away these opportunities earlier than others, but most student-athletes face this fate from the hands of time.

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Even with how unpredictable college lacrosse can be, as seasons come and go, there are always a few guarantees; games will be won and lost, one team will ultimately be happier than the rest, and some careers will inevitably reach their end. Sports can sometimes take away these opportunities earlier than others, but most student-athletes face this fate from the hands of time.

 

The closer players are to reaching the end of that tunnel, the more that presence is felt. But, while many may worry or fret, Penn State senior goalkeeper Cat Rainone takes the time to step back, be aware and cherish the moment while she can.

 

"When I'm standing in cage in a game or at practice and at the other end, I kind of just look around and soak in the scenery and realize that I'm not going to be playing on the same field forever," Rainone said. "It's definitely bittersweet."

 

The netminder is one of nine seniors for the Nittany Lions who will be honored at this Saturday's game against Virginia for senior day. Each player, and the collective teams they have impacted over the past four years, will be celebrated in a ceremony just before the start of the game.

 

This senior class is one that has without a doubt left a mark on Happy Valley and turned the women's lacrosse program into something better than when they came in. After a freshman campaign in 2014 saw the team go 10-8 and a first round exit in both the ALC and NCAA tournaments, the Penn State program has grown with this current group of seniors. Since then, the team is 42-13, claimed the inaugural Big Ten Tournament title back in 2015, and made two deep runs into the national tournament, reaching the quarterfinals in 2015 and the semifinals last year.

 

"I think this senior class couldn't have set a better example for what we want our student-athletes to be like," head coach Missy Doherty said. "I mean their leadership is excellent, their drive to compete has been great, the way they welcome in our younger players. I think they've set the best example for the future players and how we want to be as a part of our program."

 

One contributor to the squad's successes as of late has been the aforementioned Rainone, a player who has had to be the defense's anchor when it matters the most. Coach Doherty said she has been more than pleased with her play and that it all stems from her dedication and drive.

 

"Cat has been awesome this year. I think it's a credit to her and the work she's put in to get better every day. It's one of those things where she's done everything she can to get better and better and thankfully our team has been the benefit [sic] of her hard work," Doherty said. "To have someone that's worked so hard play such a critical position certainly is a reason why we've been able to come away with the win."

 

For Rainone, the clock continues to tick, but she has realized in the time she has had to reflect that has a lot to be thankful for as a Nittany Lion.

 

Whether it is the bonds she created with teammates like fellow senior Steph Lazo, the laughs shared throughout the years at practice, or the overall thrill that can only come when throwing on the Blue and White and stepping into the cage, Rainone feels she has had a positive experience and does what she can to give back to the underclassmen just as her upperclassmen once did for her.

 

After now four years of sacrificing herself to be the team's last line of defense, the goalie expects to enter an accelerated program to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing, a profession that allows her to continue her efforts in helping others.

 

"I want to help people," Rainone said. "I think working in the medical field fits me as a person because I get to wake up every day and that excites me. I'll get to wake up and I'll get to be able to help somebody, even if it's not everybody, I'll be able to go home and say 'well at least I helped at least one person that day.'"

 

While the medical field can be demanding, Rainone said falls full of 6 a.m. workouts and multiple days a week of intense conditioning in her time playing lacrosse has set her up on a path to succeed since she already knows the time and commitment that goes into something that is a constant grind.

 

Along with that is the understanding that just like as a being a goalkeeper, being perfect is an unattainable goal, yet she still does everything in her power to save one shot, or in this case person, at a time.

 

"You're not going to save everybody, not everything's going to be rainbows and things like that and you just have to take that and find the good in every situation," Rainone said. "Like in a game where we're losing and things aren't going your way, you just have to look at the positives like 'we're competing, we're a top five team,' if we stick together we'll be fine. I think that aspect translates really well into the medical field."

 

That same drive and passion will be something this team will look to tap into as the light of the regular season continues to slowly set over the horizon.

 

Whether the program's recent success will continue is still yet to be seen, but it is certain this group of seniors' experience and poise will prove to be invaluable come postseason play.

 

"Towards the end of the season, the games become more and more in the players' hands and I think they're starting to respond really well to that responsibility, but the success of our remaining season is gonna be heavy on our leadership, and I'm really confident in the leaders that we have," Doherty said.

Spring Football Top Performers: Specialists

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Taking a closer look at the Nittany Lion specialists in the latest release of the spring ball top performers series.

Spring Football Top Performers: Specialists

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RELATED: 2017 Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Week three of Penn State Football spring practice is nearly complete with Saturday's practice marking the ninth for the Nittany Lions.

With a bit of a smaller group in 2017, Penn State special teams coordinator and running backs coach Charles Huff noted that although smaller in size, the Nittany Lion specialists have benefited from a year of experience, gaining maturity along the way.

"We played a lot of young guys and if you play young guys and you look at our season, as the season went on, those guys got better and better," Huff said. "They changed their best every day, they came out and competed every day, they set a new standard for themselves each game, each week and it has carried over to the spring." 

Huff also noted that while the entire group is progressing well through spring ball, a few Nittany Lion returners are standing out.

 Named the elder statesman of the group by Huff, kicker Tyler Davis is coming off of yet another successful season having earned the 2016 Vlade Award presented by the Touchdown Club of Columbus in addition to first team All-Big Ten honors by the Big Ten coaches. Perfect on all 62 PAT attempts, Davis went 22-for-24 in field goal attempts with his only two failed tries blocked for a record 91.7 single season field goal accuracy. 

"Tyler is doing a great job kind of leading that group kind of taking that workman's approach to the game and practice each day," Huff said. 

Joining Davis is punter Blake Gillikin, who burst on to the scene to impress from his very first outing in Beaver Stadium as just the third true freshman to start at punter since 1946. Earning All-Big Ten honorable mention distinction, Gillikin finished third in the conference with a 42.8 punting average to break the freshman single season record, earning ESPN.com true freshman All-America honors. 

"Blake has really stepped up," Huff said. "Obviously a year under his belt now, he's feeling better, feeling more comfortable. He's able to kind of correct himself immediately. He does a good job with the younger guys. Right now we have some younger guys who are battling with him holding-wise, Billy Fessler and Danny Pasquariello - a smaller group, a lot more mature but making progress."

Spring Football Top Performers: Moorhead's Picks

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By Arielle Sargent GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Spring ball top performers taking a quick look at who's exceeding expectations on the offensive side of the ball.

Spring Football Top Performers: Moorhead's Picks

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RELATED: 2017 Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Midway through the third week of spring ball, Penn State is headed directly toward its final stretch of spring practices gearing up for Blue-White weekend. As the Nittany Lions quickly approach the end of the spring season, continue catching up with the staff for a closer look at a few top performers.

In the fifth release, Penn State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Joe Moorhead checks in for a quick look at the Nittany Lion offense. In a second season of the newly installed offensive system, Moorhead noted that although Penn State has gained confidence from last year's success, there's still work to be done.

"I think a big focus of the spring is improving our fundamentals and technique gaining a greater knowledge of our scheme and executing," Moorhead said.

Following a 2016 season that brought one of the most exciting offenses for the Nittany Lions, Moorhead selected a few standout performers, naming quarterback Tommy Stevens, running back Johnathan Thomas, tight end Jonathan Holland, offensive lineman Michal Menet and receivers Juwan Johnson and Brandon Polk, just to name a few.

Penn State's annual Blue-White Game is set for Saturday, April 22 at 3 p.m. in Beaver Stadium. 

Reach Arielle at ans26@psu.edu or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

At Home in Happy Valley

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- From his first trip to Happy Valley, standout freshman goalie Colby Kneese knew Penn State was the perfect fit.

At Home in Happy Valley

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The summer before his senior year of high school, Penn State freshman goalie Colby Kneese had not yet committed to a particular collegiate program. At a tournament in Baltimore that June, Nittany Lion head coach Jeff Tambroni and his staff saw Kneese play, and knew Kneese could make an impact.

"We spoke back and fourth, had a visit with him over the course of the summer," Tambroni said. "It was late July or early August before his senior year that he made the decision to come to Penn State."

Kneese, who is a Dallas, Texas native, grew up in a lacrosse family. His grandfather played college lacrosse at Army and his uncle played at Navy. It was only natural that Kneese take up the sport around the age of six, finding a spot between the pipes as a goalie, the same position his grandfather played.

He quickly grew to love the sport and dedicated much of his young life to learning the game. In high school, Kneese earned All-State and Under Armour All-America honors in 2015. He also helped lead Highland Park High School to a state championship title in 2015.

After he corresponded with Tambroni in the summer of 2015, Kneese made his first trip to Penn State and immediately knew it was the place he wanted to spend his collegiate career. 

"I had always wanted to go to a big school," Kneese said. "I grew up going to University of Texas events because my whole family went there, so I liked the big school atmosphere, big football games and big athletics, and Penn State is also extremely respectable academically."

Since he was a bit of a later commit to his anticipated freshman class, Kneese had some catching up to do when it came to getting to know his future teammates. Upon arrival though, Kneese immediately forged friendships with guys in his freshman class, which made the transition from Texas to Pennsylvania much easier. 

Now having earned the starting spot between the pipes for the Nittany Lions, Kneese has settled in nicely behind a veteran defense that he says makes his job a lot easier.

"It's nice to know that the defensemen can handle some of the best attack players in the country," Kneese said. "I've definitely been getting more comfortable with the game setting and surroundings with my teammates and the defense," 

The defensemen feel similarly about Kneese's ability to do his job, knowing that the team's last line of defense has been so consistent this year for the Nittany Lions.

"It's nice to know that if I mess up or if someone misses something, or if someone shoots it, that there's a good chance of him saving it," sophomore defenseman Chris Sabia said.

With the pressure of his first Big Ten game out of the way, and his first conference win under his belt in last Sunday's win over Ohio State, Kneese is eager to get back out on the field and show more league opponents what he can do. 

This weekend, Penn State travels to Maryland for its first road conference game of the season, and first road game since March 11 at Harvard. The Nittany Lions look to remain undefeated, with Kneese coming off an outstanding Big Ten debut that including 13 saves and just four goals allowed for a .765 save percentage, earning him Big Ten Specialist and Freshman of the Week honors.

"You go into it with belief in your team because as of now we've done things pretty well and at a great pace," Kneese said. "We've trusted each other, and if we're all on the same page backing one another up, we haven't found a lot of teams that have given us trouble to possibly lose a game, because everyone's had each other's back."

Bowersox Set on Happy Valley

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- From Florida to Happy Valley, Penn State's Jordan Bowersox has always been set on being a Nittany Lion.

Bowersox Set on Happy Valley

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For most high school players, the biggest transition to college baseball is the level of competition, being away from home or adjusting to new teammates and coaches. For Florida-native Jordan Bowersox, it was playing with long sleeves on occasion.

So why would Bowersox come 1,050 miles north to pursue his collegiate career?

The sophomore outfielder grew up visiting his family in Lewistown who took him to countless Penn State football games since he was five years old. Since then, Bowersox knew he wanted to be a Penn Stater.

"I've been a fan my entire life. It's been a dream to come here," Bowersox said. "It was just the campus. I fell in love with it. I kind of wanted to get out of the heat, as sad as that sounds. Just everything around here got me and when I first saw the baseball stadium, how can't you want to play here? It's beautiful." 

Bowersox grew up in Winter Springs, Florida where the average temperature throughout the winter months is in the 60's. Prior to attending Penn State, he never had to worry about wearing a long sleeve undershirt to assure he would stay warm during a game. Playing baseball in the north can be difficult for any athlete when the season first begins as winter is ending, but it's even more difficult for someone who has never experienced a cold winter. 

"It's difficult I'm not going to lie," Bowersox said. "The hardest part is hitting, especially when you get jammed, your hands feel like they are broken. You have to get a lot more stretched out before the games and looser." 

As a freshman, Bowersox played in 42 of 55 games during the 2016 season. Bowersox had a solid freshman campaign, batting .244 with 12 RBIs and 19 runs scored. But Bowersox said that as a freshman, he felt like he was under some pressure instead of playing completely relaxed. 

Throughout the summer, Bowersox used the confidence he gained after completing his first collegiate season and attempted to perfect his swing. After closing his batting stance a little more and adding a slight leg kick, the now-sophomore was finding more success at the plate. 

Although he was ready to come back to Penn State with his new batting stance and play in the team's fall season, Bowersox's health had other plans. The outfielder was diagnosed with Mononucleosis at the beginning of the semester and missed almost the entire fall season.

"It was difficult," Bowersox said. "I lost like 25 pounds. It just motivated me to work a little harder. I knew I wanted to play in the spring, so I had to put in extra work because the guys that were still playing were a step ahead of me. I just had to put in a little extra work to get to where I am."

After weeks of hard work and preparation recovering from the illness, Bowersox picked up right where he left off from his successful summer season. Through 27 games of the 2017 season, Bowersox is batting .359 with 17 RBIs, one triple, seven doubles and 14 runs scored.

"His success has really been huge," head coach Rob Cooper said. "Especially when we've had a lot of guys struggling collectively at the same time. This is a guy who really ended on a great note for us last year, had a great summer and unfortunately had Mono and missed the whole fall basically. So, for him to come back out and kind of pick up where he left off, it's been huge." 

For Bowersox, the most surprising statistic of his 2017 season is his three home runs. The sophomore picked up his second and third home runs in the past week against Michigan Friday and Pittsburgh Tuesday.

"I am seeing the ball well," Bowersox said. "A lot of credit to our strength coach Jason Bradford. Throughout my career I've never hit homeruns, so it's something new to me. I hope it continues. Not just me, but the whole team."

Cooper believes that with the success his outfielder is having it will create a lot more confidence in Bowersox. Cooper thinks that the next step for the sophomore is to realize his talent in the sport and then use that confidence to help lead his teammates in the future.

"The great thing is, I only think he's going to get better," Cooper said. "He's started to realize how good he can be as a baseball player."   

Smith Settled in at New Role

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State freshman setter Nathan Smith settled in and making an immediate impact for the Nittany Lions in a sudden new role.
By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After an 0-4 start to Big Ten play this season, Penn State is back on track thanks to two straight wins, and a series win, over Indiana last weekend.

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By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After an 0-4 start to Big Ten play this season, Penn State is back on track thanks to two straight wins, and a series win, over Indiana last weekend.

As the Nittany Lions travel to East Lansing next to take on Michigan State, they are hopeful that that momentum will continue and the next three games will end in their favor.

"It felt amazing," said freshman catcher Destiny Weber, about the Indiana series win. "As a team we worked very, very hard and we went through a little rough patch with a couple of losses and we really pulled it out, we worked hard for it and it felt really good so we're hoping to take the wins into Michigan State this weekend."

Weber got her first career start behind the plate against Indiana and was part of the bottom of the lineup that combined for five of Penn State's six hits against the Hoosiers in game three.

After losing game one 6-1, there was a noticeable change in energy heading into game two for the Lions. Head coach Amanda Lehotak made some adjustments to the lineup, and that proved to be key in getting the win in game two.

"We're really focused on really just controlling what we can," said assistant coach Sarah Sigrest. "We've been working on hitting the ball hard and I think that anybody that came to our games can see we're not scoring a ton of runs. So we're just trying to do a better job at putting the ball in play and going back to the little details that we're not capitalizing on right now." 

The Nittany Lions will be riding the success of their pitching staff into Michigan State, which is led by senior Marley Laubach. Laubach pitched the final frame in game two when Lehotak called her in to relieve starter Madey Smith. Laubach entered the game with Penn State up just one run with runners on second and third with no outs.

 After forcing two fly outs and a groundout, Laubach got the save for the Nittany Lions. She followed up that performance by pitching a complete game in the finale on Sunday. 

"Marley's tremendous, she's the kind of kid who puts the team on her back," Sigrest said. "She'll say, 'hey, guys I got this, settle down, just give me some runs and we'll make it happen' and I think as a senior that's what she does. So I'm happy that she figured it out and found a way to win." 

The entire pitching staff has been a strong point for Penn State up to this point in the season, with Laubach leading the pack. With the matchup against the Spartans looming near, the coaching staff will have to make a decision as to who they want on the mound come game time. 

"Right now it's going to be between Smith and Laubach just because they've been the most consistent for us throughout," Sigrest said. "We have a lot of depth in the circle and I think we're just trying to figure out how we structure it. You've got to think of it in 21 innings instead of just the seven." 

Regardless of who's on the mound, there's no word on who will be on the receiving end of the pitches. Weber is one of three catchers to see playing time this season, along with Delaney Elling and Mia Monopoli.

"I didn't actually think that I was going to start [against Indiana] until game day but our other two catchers, Delany and Mia, are great catchers and we're just rotating through to see what works and what doesn't," Weber said. "Coach does everything for a reason and all three of us catchers are very supportive of each other so we just work together to make each other better."

The series against Michigan State kicks off on Friday at 4 p.m. with games on Saturday and Sunday set for 1 p.m. starts.

Smith Settled in at New Role

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Setter is arguably one of the most important positions on a volleyball team. As a sort of floor general, if all goes according to plan, a setter should touch the ball on every offensive attack and almost never leave the court. Often times when an injury strikes, replacing the setter is a difficult task.

That has been far from the case for Penn State this season. Amidst another strong year with Mark Pavlik at the helm, the Nittany Lions have put together their fair share of lineup combinations. Some have been voluntary, some involuntary, but every step of the way the team has responded, opting to take changes in stride.

Two weeks ago when Luke Braswell, the team's starting setter for most of the year, was sidelined with an injury, freshman Nathan Smith stepped in and didn't miss a beat. In Braswell's absence, Smith has led the Nittany Lions to a 3-2 record, with no win bigger than last Tuesday's upset against top-ranked Ohio State. 

"It's weird because that win doesn't do anything for us in the standings, but it is such a big confidence boost," Smith said. "It really gave our whole team and myself especially a good feeling going into the weekend and you could tell we played with some confidence there too."

Smith carried the Nittany Lions into a weekend that Pavlik called one of the most important in recent history. Penn State did not disappoint, with Smith guiding the Nittany Lions to back-to-back weekend wins against Princeton and NJIT.

"You could tell that he was certainly dealing with some freshman nerves," Pavlik said. "What is great about Nathan is that he is always able to bounce back quickly. He is a very fast learner and when he learns something he doesn't forget about it." 

Smith's intelligence is evident on the court, but also off the court as well. The freshman science major is a member of Schreyer Honors College excelling just as much off the court. 

"That is probably what is most impressive about Nathan," Pavlik said. "Not only are we asking a lot from him on the court, but a lot has been asked of him off the court as well, and he is delivering in both aspects." 

Smith has delivered in a stretch of the season when the Nittany Lions have needed it the most. The weekend series against Princeton and NJIT was crucial in terms of the finality of the EIVA standings. True to form, Smith was able to guide the team through some rough moments and emerge with two wins, widening Penn State's lead at the top of the EIVA standings.

"We knew they were going to be a couple of tough games going in to them and we were ready," Smith said. "It certainly wasn't easy at times but when we stick to our game and keep it simple we are at our best and that's what we did."

Moving forward the Nittany Lions have two upcoming matches that loom large in the standings as they take on Harvard and Sacred Heart this weekend. With another pair of wins, the Nittany Lions will move closer to securing the top ranking in the EIVA tournament.

"We just have to continue to have a good week of practice and keep improving on the little things," Smith said. 

"We like where we're at right now, but we also recognize that we still need to win games to get to where we want to be," Pavlik said. "For us, that means winning a couple of games on the road this weekend and making things easier for ourselves the rest of the way."
By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With outdoor season well underway, Penn State is finally experiencing the outdoor season weather along with it.

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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With outdoor season well underway, Penn State is finally experiencing the outdoor season weather along with it.

 

The team spent some time out on their newly renovated track this past week since the weather was nice here in Happy Valley, and is feeling good after experiencing the smoothly surfaced track.

 

"It's been nice for the long throwers to be able to actually get on the runway and in circle and do what they want to do," said head coach John Gondak. "For the runners, the adjustment is the first time you do a workout out there the track seems so big as compared to what we are used to in here. Sometimes they feel a little sluggish on it, but as you can see from our first two competitions where they vast majority of the people competing weren't on an outdoor track yet, it didn't seem to affect them very much at all."

 

Throws coach, Lucais MacKay, feels that being able to finally practice on the outdoor track has been a positive boost for the throwers attitudes and performances.

 

"Being out on the outdoor track has been much, much more exciting. It's fun to finally see things go far. Athletes are in a little better mood and you get more feedback, just being outdoors in the circle," said MacKay. "So, they were a little bit behind the curve, with only have two or three practices outside before Arizona State, but now we've had a solid twelve days outside so I think they're finally coming into form."

 

For senior javelin thrower Michael Shuey, this transition to being able to throw outdoors isn't something new.

 

"It's a little difficult because you kind of get content just doing drills over and over again, you don't really get to see how the javelin is flying or anything like that, but coming off the injury it was nice to break everything down and not worry about distance. It was a nice transition period, but I've done it five times now so I was used to it at this point," said Shuey.

 

"After the first meet, I'm glad to get that out of the way. I was really nervous. I'm just excited to go to this next meet and do what we've been working on all of indoor season and now even more with being outside again, and I'm excited to settle in and throw how I know I can throw," he added.

 

Along with the throwers, different events experience different obstacles when transitioning into outdoor season. For pole vaulters, wind becomes a major factor with how they approach their jump. Junior vaulter, Hannah Mulhern explains just how important it is to get some practice in an outdoor setting before competition.

 

"Being able to finally practice on our outdoor track has been something really great because the outdoor season for us as pole vaulters brings a whole new element into place, which is wind," said Mulhern. "It's really important that we get experience practicing with that outdoors and get used to it and get used to working through and getting used to that new element so that we're prepared for any kind of weather condition anywhere we go."

 

The Nittany Lions will be traveling to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to compete in the Battle on the Bayou this Saturday, April 8th.  With the long road ahead, Gondak is happy with how the men and women are performing at this point in the year.

 

"I'm thrilled with where we are right now. We had a lot of things go right at both Florida Relays, Arizona State and Stanford," said Gondak. "Looking ahead, this is a great weekend for us at LSU to go into a scored meet and compete against three of the best teams in the country, so I'm excited to see our student-athletes go out there and compete."

Five Takeaways from Spring Practice Media

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Five takeaways from Penn State's second spring practice media session Wednesday night at the Lasch Football Building.

Five Takeaways from Spring Practice Media

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RELATED: 2017 Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With eight of 14 spring practices now complete, Penn State hosted its second media availability session of the spring season Wednesday evening at the Lasch Football Building. Along with head coach James Franklin, linebacker Jason Cabinda and offensive lineman Ryan Bates all took time to meet with members of the media.

Spring Ball Mindset -
As the Nittany Lions continue to grind through each spring practice, Cabinda noted the Nittany Lions are playing pretty fast in comparison to a year ago, with confidence driving the mindset.

"We're more of a veteran team now we have a lot of guys who have a lot of experience," Cabinda said. "We're coming off the sidelines and its non-stop talking and guys consistently saying 'hey, you need to to do this better,' or talking about what happened on the field, what mistakes might have happened. When you see that and guys are really trying their hardest to be right all the time, you can tell how much guys care about being right and playing well, we're getting a lot out of practice right now so we're really pleased with that." 

Miranda Making His Mark -
As Franklin noted last week, often spring ball presents a time for the staff to get to know a little bit more about what type of player an individual is through what he shows on the field in the short series of practices. This week, Franklin noted he's pleased with what he's seeing from one of four Nittany Lion early enrollees.

"A guy who I think has done a really nice job for only being on campus for a few months is [Mike] Miranda," Franklin said. "He's taking a bunch of reps right now really with the ones and he's doing a great job, and I've been pleased with him."

Bates has also taken note of the impressive maturity in such a short adjustment period. 

"It's definitely difficult being the position that he is in coming from high school, he should still be in high school really, but he's progressing really well so far," Bates said. "If you ask any of the offensive linemen, it's a developmental position and right now he's putting up a good fight and he's doing really well against some of the older guys on the defensive line in one-on-ones and in team periods."

Cabinda Making Changes -
Franklin noted that Cabinda has only benefited from trimming down his weight, with a noticeable increase in speed as the byproduct of dedication to nutrition and time in the weight room. Up in the mid 250's at his highest weight in his sophomore year, Cabinda noted that he's now keeping his weight below 235 for optimal performance.

"I just felt that if I had my weight down and play fast, that I wouldn't really lose my physicality because physicality means more than mindset really," Cabinda said. "It has been going well, I really love the way I'm playing and how I'm moving."

A Complete Mauler -
Bates also had high praise for the progress of offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez, calling Gonzalez the strongest Nittany Lion on both the offensive and defensive line in the weight room. 

"Steve came into the class with me, he was actually my roommate freshman year, so we're close," Bates said. "He's a 465-pound bencher, 600-pound squatter and in the run game just a complete mauler. He's a good person to have on the offensive line. 

Gonzalez played in 11 games for the Nittany Lions in 2016, making three starts, making his first start in the road win at Rutgers.

Farmer Stepping Up -
Since making the move from safety to linebacker last year, Koa Farmer has continued to step up and make progress learning the position, with Cabinda taking note.

"I think he's really growing into the Sam position," Cabinda said. "He's playing with knee bend, playing with his shoulders rolled over, all those things. It's not necessarily easy going from safety to linebacker, you have to adjust to the physicality of the game at linebacker. His box play has improved the most, his drops, his depth in his drops, he's really understanding the defense at the sam position so he's really coming into his own."


Reach Arielle at ans26@psu.edu or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Seven of the top 10 teams in the nation hail from the Big Ten, but only one school will have a chance to call themselves conference champions. Who that is will be decided this weekend in Champaign, Ill.

By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Seven of the top 10 teams in the nation hail from the Big Ten, but only one school will have a chance to call themselves conference champions. Who that is will be decided this weekend in Champaign, Ill.

The Nittany Lions have been as impressive as anyone in the conference lately, racking up two tough wins over Michigan and Iowa at home in the final weeks of the regular season. Now, a week removed from competition, head coach Randy Jepson and the team look to stay hot.

"You've got to have all six events, can't have one that drops," Jepson said. "We've done that before, other schools have done that before where you go out and have a great meet but then you lag behind in one event and it takes you under. Solid steady performance across the board and stuck landings, hopefully that will show in the standings."

Each routine will be increasingly important due to how close every team in the Big Ten is to each other, meaning one event could be the difference between winning and losing.

"There's just so many teams that stack up closely that it's going to be the ones that hit those dismounts a little bit more than the next team. The hit ratio is going to be really important," Jepson said.

There won't be any surprises this weekend, as all seven teams are familiar with each other and know what to expect come Friday night. Meets have been hotly contested all year, and any of the teams are capable of stepping up and having a big performance.

While this meet comes only two weeks before the NCAA Championships and could technically be viewed as a tune-up, Jepson emphasized the importance of winning a Big Ten championship, something the team has looked at as a major goal since the beginning of the season. 

"The biggest thing for us is the conference championship. We're not looking down the road at the NCAAs, we're looking at this weekend. If we do our job, we'll have a good standing. We want to go knock out routines as best as we can and see where that places us in the fold," he said.

Despite not wanting to look ahead, there is no doubt that it is important to the team to stay consistent through this stretch and into the NCAAs if they succeed as a team. Everyone wants to be their best at the most critical points of the season, and a solid weekend in Champaign will go a long way towards allowing this team to contend for a national championship.

However, a quiet weekend at Big Tens doesn't necessarily spell doom for the Nittany Lions. 

"It's interesting you bring that up," Jepson said on if you need to compete well in the conference meet to have a chance at nationals. "[The 2000 team] was sixth at the Big Tens and two weeks later they were national champions. They don't necessarily correlate, but it's great to go in and knock out a great Big Ten championship as momentum into the finals." 

How much momentum they carry remains to be seen, but the Nittany Lions have a lot to be confident about as they hit the road.

The event will be hosted by the University of Illinois. Competition begins at 7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday nights.

Competition Driving Spring Practice

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Catching up with captain quarterback Trace McSorley for a closer look at spring practice through the midpoint of the season and what's driving the Nittany Lions in prep for 2017.

Competition Driving Spring Practice

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RELATED: 2017 Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  It has been a little more than three months since Penn State Football's captivating Big Ten Championship season came to a close in a gripping, record-setting Rose Bowl appearance.

It was that night in Pasadena, California that quarterback Trace McSorley noted all of the emotion, the pain, and the uncomfortable pang of a pit in the stomach, would need to become the catalyst to the motivation for what's next in 2017.

Now in the heat of the grind of spring practice, the Nittany Lions have certainly not forgotten the feeling although set on a different ending in 2017.

"All the hard work that we put in throughout the year going through everything, getting to the Big Ten Championship and the extra weeks in practices and games, we put in a ton of work last offseason to get to the Rose Bowl," McSorley said. "To have it end the way it did, it hurt, but it was one of those things where you end up using it as motivation, knowing the work that we did last year got us to this point and we fell short, so we need to exceed that going into this year," McSorley said.

Headed into winter conditioning, for McSorley, there wasn't much of a shift in format, but rather a noticeable change in where the source of the energy was coming from. 

"There's a lot of leadership on guys like Saquon [Barkley], Jason [Cabinda], DaeSean [Hamilton], a lot of older guys and some of the captains and together we've been talking and really trying to make sure we're pushing people," McSorley said. "We know the level and the standard, how we're expected to work and the level of work ethic we need to have at each workout and we just try to push everybody past their limit, especially going into those winter workouts."

For McSorley, rather than the coaching staff driving the intensity and encouragement, it was up to the Nittany Lions to lead by example, bringing teammates to along too when it comes to exceeding expectations.

"There's going to be a point in each workout where each person is going to hit a wall and it's helping your teammates push through that wall, finding that point where they think they don't have more and then realizing they actually do have a lot more left in them," McSorley said.

With winter workouts well complete, it's not even remotely surprising that the drive to compete at a whole new level was a main takeaway headed into spring practice.

Just before kicking off the first day of spring practice, McSorley, Cabinda and Nick Scott were all selected as team captains on March 22. For McSorley, one of the highest honors in sports. 

"It's really your teammates who believe that you're the guy they want to look toward when times are tough and times are good," McSorley said. "When you look back at all the captains who have been at Penn State, it's a pretty special group of people who have been a captain here."

Since earning the starting job last training camp, McSorley not only inspired, but brought out the best in those around him on the field, often in an exciting and thrilling fashion, having stepped into a new offensive system under offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. 

Following the 2016 season, McSorley etched his name all over not just the Nittany Lion record books, but Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl record books along the way.

Among 31 school records either matched or broken in 2016, McSorley set 12 of them individually, playing a major role in an additional five all-time team performances. 

Averaging 258.1 passing yards per game and a stunning 16.1 yards per completion (which also finished first nationally among FBS programs), McSorley threw for a record-setting 3,614 yards in 2016 with a record 29 passing touchdowns as one of just three Nittany Lion quarterbacks to throw fro more than 3,000 yards in a single season. Helped out by an All-American running back in Barkley, Penn State closed out the year as one of 11 FBS teams with a 3,500-yard passer and a 1,000-yard rusher.

Headed into year two in the offensive system engineered by Moorhead, along with McSorley, Penn State returns a tremendous amount of its supporting cast from one of the highest scoring offenses in program history.

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"We're a lot more confident," McSorley said. "From the quarterback position, just watching our footwork from last spring to this spring, you can tell that we know what's going on and if a quarterback is unsure about what's going on you can kind of see in his feet that he looks uncomfortable."

Outside of quarterbacks though, McSorley noted that the Nittany Lions have gained confidence across the board. 

"We've been able take what we installed last spring, grow it in fall camp and throughout the season last year, and now refine it this spring," McSorley said. "I think it's been one of the best things we've been able to do, to understand what we did best last season, what we needed to improve on, how we can continue to get better, the things we're good on and really taking strides to get better."

For McSorley that means perhaps locking in on an emerging receiver to take the place of the clutch consistency of Chris Godwin, while also continuing to see progress from an explosive group of running backs, punctuated by the endless highlight-reel worthy performances from Barkley. Add in returning tight end Mike Gesicki and the options are stacked with experienced potential.

McSorley is also confident in the continued strides of the Nittany Lion offense line, with four of five starters returning and Connor McGovern making progress at filling the vacant center role left behind by Brian Gaia.

"He has done a great job, having experience on the offensive line last year, he knows the plays, he knows how we're getting combos and working toward things and I think he'll get more and more comfortable conducting the offensive line from the center as he gets used to playing the position," McSorley said.

Perhaps the byproduct of a season marked with such striking success though, is the increase in the level of competition, even seven practices in to a 14-practice spring schedule. 

"This middle portion is usually where a lot of people lose some energy but we've really kept the energy high and I think a lot of that has been that we have a lot of competition in practice and our guys thrive off of that," McSorley said.

With ongoing battles both on offense and defense each practice, that's exactly the type of atmosphere the Nittany Lions have set out to continue building.

"Offense and defense both are competing all the time we're trying to build one of the most competitive atmospheres in all of college football, just in practice," McSorley said. "So if we can build that and have great competition each day, that will only help us get better. Competition kind of brings out the best in everybody no matter what it is."


Reach Arielle at ans26@psu.edu or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

Spring Football Top Performers: Linebackers

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Pry checks in with a closer look at the Nittany Lion linebackers.

Spring Football Top Performers: Linebackers

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2017 Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State has reached the midpoint of spring ball, set for practice No. 7 of 14 Monday at the Lasch Football Building. As the Nittany Lions head deeper into the practice schedule, continue catching up with the Penn State staff for a closer look at who's exceeding expectations.

In the fourth release, Penn State defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Pry checks in with a closer look at the Nittany Lion linebackers.

Led by senior captain Jason Cabinda, Penn State's talented group of linebackers will look to replace the natural playmaking ability of senior Brandon Bell heading into to the 2017 season.

As James Franklin noted during his spring ball press conference though, he and the staff are confident in both the two and three-deep, with some exciting new players emerging from the battle-tested group.

"Obviously Jason Cabinda is a guy we're super excited about," Pry said. "He's a guy who has proven himself on the battlefield and works like crazy, one of our best workers with no complacency and working to improve his weaknesses." 

Aside from Cabinda, Pry also noted veterans Manny Bowen and Koa Farmer are among a few more top performers to date. 

"I'm excited about Manny Bowen and what he's doing this spring," Pry said. "He has grown into the Will linebacker position well, and Koa Farmer too, I'm looking forward to what he's at Sam, he's doing a nice job learning the position and growing as a linebacker."

Farmer made the move from safety to linebacker early on in the season, playing in all 14 games with a pair of starts. He finished out the season with 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks, including a key fourth-quarter sack in the Big Ten Championship game against Wisconsin. Bringing versatility at the position, Bowen started 12 of 13 games he played in, registering 68 stops, including two sacks and 9.0 tackles for loss. 

Reach Arielle at ans26@psu.edu or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

Kneese, Defense Halt Buckeyes

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Highlighted by a standout performance from freshman goalie Colby Kneese, Penn State's entire defense unit shines in the 9-4 win against Ohio State in Sunday's 2017 Big Ten opener.
By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions got their first Big Ten series win over the weekend when they beat the Indiana Hoosiers 2-1 on Sunday after splitting a doubleheader on Saturday.

Kneese, Defense Halt Buckeyes

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Leading up to Sunday night, freshman goalkeeper Colby Kneese's preparation was locked on remaining focused and more determined than ever to be strong between the pipes. His preparation was on full display in the Big Ten opener, as Penn State men's lacrosse defeated Ohio State, 9-4, to remain unbeaten on the year at 10-0.   

"Coach really got on me about not taking a play off in practice," Kneese said. "He just stayed on me all week."

Visualizing every play in practice as a live scenario, Kneese prepped for the Buckeyes focusing his mind on the level of competition Ohio State would bring offensively. The mental preparation allowed him to come out strong from the start, blocking the first Ohio State shot on net to start the game. 

"I just thought he was really consistent tonight," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "We weren't overly pleased with the effort we got last week and I feel Colby would be the first one to tell you he didn't play his best game. I thought he prepared really well in the middle to latter part of the week."

Both Tambroni and the staff had many conversations with Kneese leading up to Penn State's conference opener, all to help the freshman focus on the task at hand, letting him know the Nittany Lion defense would be there to help in his first Big Ten game. Kneese made 13 saves against the Buckeyes, securing a .765 save percentage on the night. 

"I thought [Kneese] was surrounded by a group of defenders who really just competed with a ton of heart tonight," Tambroni said. "They've taken a lot of abuse in terms of where they stand statistically this year and I thought they really stood up and stood the test of a very good offensive team with a lot of weapons." 

The defense in front of Kneese also put on a show. Holding the Buckeyes scoreless for more than 37 minutes spanning as many as three quarters, the Penn State defense combined for what Tambroni says, is without a doubt, the best performance all season.

"I think we just finally played a full 60-minute lacrosse game," senior defenseman Peter Triolo said. "We knew we have all the components to be a successful team, and a top tier team in the NCAA."

For Triolo, it was a team effort that propelled the Nittany Lions past the Buckeyes, without a single Nittany Lion effort left unnoticed. Senior defensive midfielder Drake Kreinz added that the win was the culmination of each and every one of the Nittany Lions putting in the work during practice.

"It's easy to do you job when the guys around you are doing their jobs," Kreinz said. "It's easier to do you job when the preparation started Tuesday and they were just knock-out, drag-out practices. The scout guys were doing their job giving us unbelievable looks. So when it came to game day it was easy to execute based on our preparation from that week." 

Kreinz also made an appearance at the faceoff "x," earning four faceoff wins as well as goal to start the third quarter, sparking a 5-1 second-half scoring streak that lifted the Nittany Lions to a 9-4 decision at the final horn.

"I'm just really proud of these two guys in particular," Triolo said of Kneese and Kreinz. "And our entire defense, our entire offense, and our entire team even from the guys on the sidelines played a full 60-minute game, competed our butts off the entire time and it was great to see."

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By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions got their first Big Ten series win over the weekend when they beat the Indiana Hoosiers 2-1 on Sunday after splitting a doubleheader on Saturday. 

Junior Gianna Arrizurieta got the start in right field for game three and, as head coach Amanda Lehotak described it, was the "MVP of the year [with] how she played."

Arrizurieta was one of the lone bright spots on offense for much of the game in a largely defensive outing for the Nittany Lions, hammering out two doubles after entering the game batting .056.

"Gianna's one of those special athletes, she's a special person and the fact that her work ethic defines who she is, she works every day," Lehotak said. "She hasn't gotten a lot of opportunities and she's been chomping at the bit, and today she got the opportunity and is going to keep it for awhile, so I'm so happy for her and she's just proof that hard work pays off."

Her first double came in the bottom of the second with Toni Polk on first base. Polk rounded the bases to give Penn State the one run lead and Arrizurieta her first RBI of the season. Her second double came in the fifth inning when she ripped one down the left field sideline. 

Penn State has struggled throughout the season to plate runners who are in scoring position, but was successful in doing so against the Hoosiers all weekend.

"It's so refreshing [to do that]," Lehotak said. "We've been right there all year and we just haven't been able to bust through the door and hopefully these past two games are just the little momentum that we need."

 In between her two doubles, Arrizurieta had a strong defensive showing as well, robbing Indiana power hitter CaraMia Tsirigos of an extra base hit in the fourth inning with a diving catch in right-center field.

"Nothing was different [for me], we just came out and we wanted to show everyone, all our homes fans and families, how we play the game and how we're supposed to play the game," Arrizurieta said. "So we played hard, we played with heart, it was a full team effort and that's what we came out and did today."

In the bottom of the seventh, it was Arrizurieta who scored the walk-off run off a Sam Shanahan line drive to right field. But before the game winning play, it was heads up base running that got Arrizurieta to second base and into scoring position.

With Polk on first base, Arrizurieta went for the sacrifice bunt to advance her, but Indiana instead turned the play to second to get Polk out. As Polk was walking away, Arrizurieta noticed the shortstop look away, and she made her move, stealing second. 

"The shortstop, she had just made a play at second, she started peeling off the bag and the pitcher wasn't paying attention so I just took the base and that's how we practice so that's how we're going to play," Arrizurieta said. 

Arrizurieta, batting in the seven spot, wasn't the only player in the bottom half of the lineup to produce against the Hoosiers. Five of Penn State's six hits came from the six through nine hitters.

"My favorite part about today is, we always talk about it's a total team effort, and it was the bottom of our lineup that really allowed us to win," Lehotak said. "It just goes to show that Shelby Miller doesn't have to have all the pressure, KB [Kristina Brackpool] doesn't have to have all the pressure, you know anybody can step up at anytime, so I'm really proud of them." 

Penn State will look to carry this momentum into a weekend series at Michigan State. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. on Friday and then 1 p.m. starts on both Saturday and Sunday. 

Best of Spring Ball

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State Football is one week closer to Blue-White weekend in Happy Valley. Catch up on what you missed from week two spring ball action with the Nittany Lions.

Best of Spring Ball

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Veterans Power Lions in Key Conference Weekend

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State's veteran Nittany Lions play key roles in a critical EIVA conference weekend.

Veterans Power Lions in Key Conference Weekend

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9772195.jpegBy Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In an EIVA regular season weekend as critical as Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik can remember, the No. 13 Nittany Lions put on a gritty performance to emerge with a four set win against NJIT Saturday evening at Rec Hall.

"I think this capped off a pretty successful weekend for us," Pavlik said. "If we would have stumbled and gone the other way, it would have really tightened things up and its given us some breathing room right now."

Following a thrilling five-set victory against Princeton Friday night, the pair of wins widened the Penn State lead in the EIVA standings, with the Nittany Lions currently owning a two-match advantage in a title race that could shake out any number of ways with four of a remaining seven league teams all with six conference wins.

The Highlanders came out swinging in the first set, maintaining control through the midpoint of the opening frame before using a 3-1 streak to pull ahead by as many as four, 19-15, prompting Penn State to call its first timeout of the evening.

The Nittany Lions regrouped with back-to-back kills from Adian Albrecht. NJIT answered with another 3-1 spurt, as a Nittany Lion miscue prompted Penn State's final timeout before the Highlanders finished off the set, 24-21.

Both teams battled point-for-point in the second set before Cal Mende slammed a kill and paired up Albrecht and Matt Callaway for a triple block to break open a 9-all tie and give the Nittany Lions their largest lead of the stanza, 11-9. Penn State struggled to settle into a rhythm though as the Highlanders came right back to keep the set locked up. Tied at 18-18, NJIT capitalized on three consecutive Nittany Lion errors to jump ahead by three, 21-18.

Penn State was hardly finished though, as Mende followed an NJIT service error with a crucial kill to spark a 4-0 stretch that lifted the Nittany Lions ahead by one, 22-21. The Highlanders cut off the streak with a kill to tie the score, 22-22, but Penn State responded with a 3-1 stretch capped off by another triple block to secure a 25-23 win to tie the match at 1-1 heading into the intermission. 

Penn State built its lead to as many as five, 15-10, by the midpoint of the third set and didn't look back, knocking off NJIT 25-21 in sets three and four to wrap up the victory.

"I think once we got aggressive in this game, in game two, that's when things started to happen for us," Pavlik said.

Mende finished tied for first on the team with 13 kills, stuffing the stat sheet with six kills in the second set alone.

"I thought there was a stretch in there where Cal didn't have great balls to swing at and still managed to do some things and then Nathan found the shape that he needs to give Cal and when you give Cal that shape, he's going to put the ball away," Pavlik said. "I think that he worked through some of the tough spots and I think Nathan found him when we needed him and shaped the set the way we needed it shaped."

It was Penn State's veteran leaders though who balanced out the offense, with Albrecht finishing with 13 kills and a team-high four blocks, just ahead of senior Chris Nugent, who totaled 12 kills on .407 hitting with six digs. Callaway added eight kills on .800 hitting. Nugent and Albrecht also registered double figure kills in the win against Princeton, with Callaway leading the blocking unit with six total blocks.

"They've seen that movie before and it's a huge advantage," Pavlik said reflecting on the contributions of his upperclassmen leaders. "It's something where they know three points here, two points there, it really doesn't matter if you keep playing the game the way it needs to be played. I think there is something to be said for the seniors who not only have a settling effect, but also the opposite when they can look at the younger guys and say, follow me, we're winning this."

Along with experience and leadership, not to be underrated is the performance from Nathan Smith, Penn State's freshmen setter first thrust into the lineup on the road at Loyola last weekend after an injury sidelined Luke Braswell. Upon returning home from the road, Smith directed the Nittany Lion offense to wins in back-to-back five-setters against top-ranked Ohio State and Princeton before closing out the weekend with the victory against NJIT.

"I thought Nathan did a yeoman's job this weekend, winning a five-gamer and being in a tight four-gamer," Pavlik said. 

Reaching his stride with each passing match, Smith has proved nothing short of pivotal for the Nittany Lions headed into the final stretch of EIVA play.

"I think Nathan's really settled in the last couple of games," Albrecht said. "He's feeling more confident, he's talking more."

Penn State will look to keep its momentum alive on the road next week in yet another key weekend of conference matchups.

"Next week has become the second most important EIVA weekend that I can remember," Pavlik said. "You have to take care of business against Sacred Heart and Harvard."
By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After fighting back from an unusually slow start, Penn State rolled past Big Ten foe Ohio State 16-12 for the team's 12th win of the year.

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After fighting back from an unusually slow start, Penn State rolled past Big Ten foe Ohio State 16-12 for the team's 12th win of the year.

The early goings of the first half featured a rare defensive duel for the Nittany Lions, as the first 15 minutes of the half only featured three total goals as Penn State held a slight 2-1 lead. Much of the first half was a back-and-forth battle between the two squads, but the Buckeyes went on a run that would give them a commanding lead.

 

Ohio State tied things up at two with 13:13 left in the first half thanks to a Molly Wood goal, her 36th of the season. Over the next nine minutes, the Buckeyes outscored the Nittany Lions 5-1 to take the 6-3 lead heading into the half's final four minutes.

 

But just when it looked like Penn State would be heading into the half with a sizeable deficit looking for answers in the second half, the squad suddenly turned it around.

 

The Blue and White opened things up with a snipe from senior captain Abby Smucker. Standing around the 12-meter line, she fired one into the top-right pocket of the mesh and got by a diving Jill Rizzo who was standing too far out in front of the net. The goal made it a 6-4 game and was the first of her three goals on the day.

 

"I have to attribute that goal to my teammates," the captain said, mentioning the whole team's contributions. "[My] teammates opened up a lot of space for me."

 

Penn State rode its newfound momentum and finished the half strong, closing out the final 3:37 with three goals to make it six-all at the half. The final two were scored by Madison Carter, who scored the tying goal on a free-position with 14.4 seconds left on the clock.

 

Carter had another big day as she tallied five goals and an assist to her stat line. She has been on a bit of a tear as of late, making it now 14 goals and 17 points over the last three contests. Head coach Missy Doherty said Carter has been huge for the team as of late.

 

"You know Mad Carter, weirdly enough, you finish the game and you're like 'Oh my god she had so many goals.' She just does a good job at scoring goals at important times, and it's a credit to her," Doherty said.

 

Three unanswered Penn State goals grew to eight at the start of the second half. The squad spread the wealth as five different players scored a goal for the Nittany Lions in the first six minutes after the break to push the Blue and White to a big 11-6 lead.

 

The offensive explosion could be credited to the teams increased pace after halftime. Coach Doherty had a talk with the team at the half and got the team to get back to their usual style of play.

 

"Missy at halftime was just telling us we just need to push our legs a little bit more and just go hard to cage, right off the catch just go hard," Smucker said. "We have a lot of speed on this team, a lot of depth, so I think we just needed to push our legs a little more."

 

Penn State's defense also came to play in the second half, limiting the Buckeyes to six total goals, two of which came in the final few minutes when the win was all but assured.

 

The Blue and White now move to 12-1 on the season and move into the final four games of the season. Next up is a matchup with Virginia next Saturday, April 8 against Virginia for senior night. The opening draw I at 1 p.m.

By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After Friday's game against Indiana was rained out, the Nittany Lions played a doubleheader on Saturday. After losing the first game 6-1, the Blue & White picked up its first win in conference play in the latter game, 3-2. Here are some thoughts and takeaways after a full day of softball at Beard Field:

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By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After Friday's game against Indiana was rained out, the Nittany Lions played a doubleheader on Saturday.  After losing the first game 6-1, the Blue & White picked up its first win in conference play in the latter game, 3-2.  Here are some thoughts and takeaways after a full day of softball at Beard Field:

 

Game 1

 

Defense, Defense, Defense

 

The Lions did their part when in the field - the team committed no errors, and had a slew of nice plays.  It began in the first when Kristina Brackpool made a nice pick at first base.  She made another nice stretch to beat the runner to the bag, helping the team get out of a jam in the third frame.  A sliding grab by Sam Shanahan in right field saved at least one run in the seventh. 

 

Shelby Miller Stays Hot

 

Miller finished the contest 1-2 with a single, a walk and an RBI sacrifice fly.  The sac-fly finished off what would be a well-manufactured run by the Blue & White - Toni Polk doubled and stole third, and Miller did the rest, flying out to deep right center. 

 

Game 2

 

Power Surge

 

Tori Dubois put a charge into a ball in the fourth inning, hitting it over the centerfielder's head and driving in Rebecca Ziegler to put the Lions on top 1-0.  With two outs, Polk achieved one of the goals head coach Amanda Lehotak has been stressing all season: getting the clutch hit in a pressure situation. 

 

Small Ball Gets the Job Done

 

Still in the fourth inning, second baseman Mollie Sorenson wisely got caught in a rundown between first and second base, giving Dubois time to cross home.  That run gave Penn State a cushion with a 2-0 lead.

 

Twice as Nice

 

Penn State managed to turn two double plays in the game.  The first was a 6-4-3 double play fielded by shortstop Toni Polk.  The second was a line drive caught by Sorenson who fired to first to get the second out. 

 

Madey Smith Spins a Gem; Laubach Has Ice in Her Veins

 

The freshman Smith continued her dominance on the mound, striking out four and hurling a shutout until the seventh inning, when Indiana managed to plate two runs.  She exited with runners on second and third and no outs, and the team turned to senior leader Marlaina Laubach to save the game, up just one run.  After a fly out, a groundout and another fly out, Laubach was the hero, and preserved a Nittany Lion victory after stranding two runners in scoring position.     

 

Head coach Amanda Lehotak has complete faith in Marlaina.

 

"That's why we put her in that position," Lehotak said.  "She's been our ace for four years and she's been our attacker for four years"