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Six Players Say Goodbye to the Program

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By Anna Pitingolo, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the regular season begins to wind down, the Penn State softball team must prepare to say goodbye to another class of graduates. The Class of 2017 marks the first group to play for head coach Amanda Lehotak all four years. They come from every corner of the country and are looking to leave Happy Valley on a high note. 

Kristina Brackpool
The first baseman out of Valencia, California has started 169 games in her career as a Nittany Lion. She has been an anchor at first base the past three years and currently has a .289 batting average on the season. Coming to State College from the other side of the country requires a lot of travel, but that's exactly what Brackpool loves to do with her team. 

"My favorite memory is travelling all across the country and seeing how big our fan base is," Brackpool. "There's so many Penn Staters all over the country and no matter where we go, whether it's Texas or Seattle or Colorado, there's Penn Staters everywhere."

Brackpool will not be graduating this May and is instead staying for a fifth year. However, she'll still be involved with the softball program as an assistant to Lehotak for next season. Once she completes her degree next spring, Brackpool plans to go to medical school.

Jess Haug
Haug has only been a Nittany Lion for the last two seasons, when she transferred to Penn State after playing at Temple for one year. She also played basketball at Penn State Abington for a year. When she got to Happy Valley for her junior year, she walked on to the team, which has been her favorite memory in a blue and white uniform so far.

"My favorite memory was last year when I transferred here and ended up walking on to the team," Haug said. "Coach Tek gave me a chance and it ended up working out so I'm always appreciative and thankful for that opportunity."

As of now, Haug doesn't have anything lined up for post-graduation, but she plans on enjoying the summer while she continues to look for jobs.


Marlaina Laubach
Laubach has been a force on the pitching mound this season, and for much of her career as well. She's Lehotak's go-to pitcher and leads the pitching staff in innings played. From Northampton, Pennsylvania, she heads towards the final stretch of her career with a 3.49 ERA and 318 strikeouts. 

"Playing for coach Tek has actually been really fun, she has been pretty much my biggest advocate in my four years here," Laubach said. "She's always held me to a high standard and I really appreciate that so I'm successful because of her." 

Laubach, a psychology major, doesn't have any definite plans lined up for after graduation but hopes to enjoy the summer before she has to take her GREs for grad school.

 Shelby Miller
Miller came to Penn State from Sugar Land, Texas and has been a trusty hitter ever since arriving at Beard Field. Her career batting average* sits at .319 and sits in second place on the career RBI list with 118. Since arriving on campus four years ago, her favorite memory is when the team travelled to Texas to play and she got to show her teammates her home.

"My favorite memory from Penn State softball is when we went to Texas because I'm from Texas and I got to show everybody what Texas is about and the Texas food that I miss so much," Miller said.

Miller currently doesn't have anything lined up for after graduation, but she plans to take a year off and then apply for grad school so that she can hopefully become a physical therapist.

Mia Monopoli
The graduating redshirt junior catcher has played in 65 career games as a Nittany Lion, including 37 games and 25 starts in 2017.  Monopoli is hitting .206 this season with four doubles and five runs batted in.  Heading into her final home series, she has had some great moments in the Blue and White.  

"My favorite Penn State softball memory was getting to start the first home game my first year here," she said.  "It was such an honor to me, I've never smiled bigger.  Seeing my name on that big screen was worth every blood, sweat, and tear that ever went into my training" 

Following graduating the California native will be heading home to work in her hometown area of San Francisco, and there are she will be taking lessons from the diamond to her next path. 

"I have countless lessons that I will take away from softball but mainly I will take away how much a positive attitude can do for you," Monopoli said. 

 "You have to appreciate and respect the whole process," she added.  "And that goes for any job or passion!" 

Sam Shanahan
Shanahan has gone back and forth as right fielder and DP this season, and has succeeded at both. The Seattle, Washington native has played in 42 games this season, which are the most games in a season in her career. As she looks ahead to the future, Shanahan is looking to take the lessons she learned from softball with her in the real world. 

"The one thing I'll take from softball is you have to put in the hard work everyday to get the results," Shanahan said. "I definitely have understood what hard work takes and I definitely will take that into my future."

Shanahan plans on going to grad school after graduation so that she can one day become a registered dietitian.

Student Managers
Penn State softball also has two student managers that are graduating. Alex Comonitski and Jon Herzing have both been managers for three years, with Comonitski starting her freshman year and Herzing started his sophomore year. Comonitski took a year off when she studied abroad her junior year. 

After playing softball in high school and fielding some offers from small Division 1 schools, Comonitski came into Penn State hoping to be involved with the program somehow. 

"I knew that Coach Tek was new so I started emailing the secretary and I asked if they needed help in any capacity in the office or anything so that I could get involved somehow," Comonitski said. "And luckily because [Lehotak] was new and she had a whole new staff and needed student managers so I've been doing it ever since." 

Herzing originally worked for the grounds crew at Beard Field and when the team was looking for a new manager his sophomore year, he thought it would be a good opportunity.

"I think it's just the collective experience of all the people I've met and the experiences I've gotten to have, like travelling with the team," Herzing said. "I've gotten to see a lot of great places and I've really made a lot of good friends on all these trips and from being around the team." 

Senior Day will take place when the Nittany Lions conclude the regular season with a home series against No. 4 Minnesota. The six graduates will be honored before the series finale on Sunday, May 7 at 1 p.m.

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