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By Brian McLaughlin, Student Staff Writer GoPSUsports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions fell in both games of a doubleheader Wednesday night to St. Francis, but despite the outcome the team is looking to take away positives from players that stepped up at Beard Field. 

Here are some takeways from the home action. 

Player of the Day: Gianna Arrizurieta
Between the two games Penn State's senior starting shortstop went 2-for-4 with a double. After a slow start to the season, Arrizurieta is starting to hit her stride at the plate.

"Gianna really in the past couple weeks is getting better and better. To me it seems like she has hit her stride," Lehotak said. "Poor kid had 'At Em's Disease' where you hit it right at them for the first part of the season. Then you get frustrated so I think she has just relaxed. She is now playing the best ball she's played all year and is playing a great shortstop right now as well. Today she had some hard hit balls at her, like some real rockets that she made some great plays on so that's the beauty of experience right there." 

Quick Start
Penn State jumped off to a 1-0 lead in game one after Tori Dubois lead off the first inning with a hit by pitch and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Kennedy Legg. Dubois moved to third base on an infield single from Paige Johnson. With two outs in the inning Penn State executed a double steal to perfection, with Johnson taking second and Dubois scoring on the throw.

Scattered Hits
Penn State scattered 11 hits over the two games bringing in three runs to show for it. The Nittany Lions were one hit away from breaking the game open at times but never could find the big play to mount the comeback.

"We didn't have one big hit today and in the first game we really only had one hard hit," Lehotak said "We might've matched their hits on the day but we've got to hit the ball harder. I felt good about our preparation yesterday and today, and I'm not sure what the disconnect is but we're not doing it on game day right now but we need to figure it out." 

Outside of Arrizurieta's big day, Kennedy Legg added two hits and a solo home run in game two and Dubois had one hit in each game for Penn State.

The team will look to continue that preparation and translate it to gameday in the coming weeks.

Hackenberg's First Appearance
Tori Hackenberg made her Nittany Lion debut and had quite the cheering section with some of her high school teammates in attendance.

"I'm not totally sure what happened with that, but I heard through the grape vine that maybe her old high school was here," Lehotak said. "Hackenberg's been doing a good job, she was injured for a while and now she's finally healthy so we were just trying to get her at bat's going into the weekend just seeing what she can do since she's missed so much. I didn't put her in there because of her cheering section, I was surprised when I heard it but it was pretty cool to see." 

Penn State travels to Indiana this weekend before returning home next Wednesday to take on Bucknell.

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By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Last April in the midst of cheers and NCAA National Championships excitement, current sophomore Stephen Nedoroscik stood at the top of the pommel horse podium amongst some of the best gymnasts in the United States.

 

"Just a really energetic vibe there," Nedoroscik said. "I didn't expect to win honestly, but I just wanted to have fun." 

 

This April, Nedoroscik plans to do the same.

 

Nedoroscik traveled to Chicago, Illinois early Wednesday morning along with his teammates. Penn State will compete as a team on all events this weekend, while Nedoroscik and freshman Brennan Pantazis will represent the Blue and White individually on pommel horse and floor respectively.

 

"They've been just fine tuning and they look sharper and sharper each day, really really pleased with that," head coach Randy Jepson said. "They are ready to go, there's nothing else we can do. You can't do anything extra at this point. More's not better so we're doing just fine that way."

 

As underclassmen, Nedoroscik and Pantazis have built a relationship around their expectations in the gym.

 

"Seize every moment," Nedoroscik on the advice he's given to the younger gymnast. "Starting from like beginning of the season, we've just been talking, especially since Winter Cup. He has like a champion mindset, kind of like what I did last year. He's going into win." 

 

Similarly to Pantazis, Nedoroscik's freshman season proved his ability and skill as an underclassman earning All-American pommel horse honors. This season he secured his career best on his specialty at the West Point Open with a 15.000 tally, while also overcoming the mental challenge of meeting championship expectations from his competition.

 

"It's a tough thing to have a target on your back and to feel like you have all of these expectations, which is I know what he felt at the beginning of the year," Jepson said. "There's nothing different than you were before you were national champion so getting him to embrace that and to understand that that's the biggest thing otherwise you put this mountain on yourself and I think he's worked through that fairly well."

 

"It feels good that people look up to me as competition and I look forward to having a good competition," Nedoroscik said. 

 

Nedoroscik has stiff competition this year in fellow pommel horse specialist Brandon Ngai, a Fighting Illini and previous NCAA champion, and Alec Yoder, a Buckeye and a former bronze medalist at the Doha World Cup in Qatar.

 

"There are some other guys out there that are really good," Jepson said. "So you know there is a good field, really good field."

 

Aside from the competition, the entire atmosphere at a high-stake event like the NCAA National Championship adds more pressure.

 

"It's fantastic," Jepson said. "You know the great thing is they got the taste at Big Tens...the emotion that noise everybody in their carrel just going crazy and the crowd is going to be a really good crowd."

 

But Nedoroscik and the rest of the Penn State men's gymnastics team are ready for the challenge.  

 

"Every away meet so far this year I've hit and I've done really well and I just want to keep that momentum going into NCAAs," Nedoroscik said.

 

"Just go out and have fun do your job do your routine and let the chips fall where they may and if you do everything you can that's all you can do," Jepson added.

 

Can Stephen Nedoroscik repeat as a champion?

 

"I want to win again," Nedoroscik said.

By Maria Evangelou, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The NCAA Championships on the schedule means the biggest weekend in collegiate gymnastics is here, and there will be a Nittany Lion present to represent the Blue and White. Read More

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By Maria Evangelou, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The NCAA Championships on the schedule means the biggest weekend in collegiate gymnastics is here, and there will be a Nittany Lion present to represent the Blue and White.

Freshman Lauren Bridgens advanced to the NCAA Championships after tying for third with an all-around score of 39.200 at Penn State's NCAA Regional Championships meet on April 7. Bridgens' scores throughout the day landed her the privilege of traveling to nationals, and she will be competing as an individual, separate from her own squad, alongside the Arkansas gymnastics team.

The freshman from Maryland has had one incredible rookie season.  During her first year as a Nittany Lion, Bridgens was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week five times, tallied the first perfect 10 on the uneven bars in program history in a meet at BYU, and won 14 titles. She was also named a First Team All-Big Ten in early March. Most recently, Bridgens garnered regular season All-America honors from the National Association of College Gymnastics Coaches for Women (NACGC/W)

Despite the prestigious competition fast-approaching, the team and coaching staff have full confidence in Bridgens. Her confidence as an athlete and successes have proven her worthy of the honor.

"Lauren's a really level-headed kid," head coach Sarah Brown said. "As long as she's having fun, she's going to compete really well. I do think it's going to be a little more nerve-wracking for her, because she doesn't have her team and her best friends there to support her, but I think the staff is going to do a good job making sure that she can stay mellow and flexible. Competing as an individual is challenging, but I'm excited to be rotating with Arkansas. I know that they're going to be welcoming and incredibly encouraging to her, so I hope that she creates new friendships and feels like she's a part of a team in a way,"

Competing as an individual can seem like an intimidating feat, especially when traveling to an unfamiliar location, but Bridgens seems level-headed and ready.

"I don't think she's going to have a hard time with at all," Brown said. "As soon as she gets out on the competitive floor I think she's going to do her thing and hold her own. She belongs at the national championship and I know that she's not going to be intimidated by the gymnastics being done there because she's proven herself throughout the entire season." 

"I feel even more excited going into the next three years knowing how much we can accomplish," Bridgens said. "We have a lot of potential, and it makes me super excited for the future. I don't really know a lot of girls on Arkansas' team, so I'm hoping that they'll welcome me with open arms so I can make a lot of new friends." 

An individual competitor's training varies from her normal practicing, so Bridgens' coaches and teammates are making sure the gymnast is supported entirely and warming up properly, as her warm-up time will be different in competition mode.

"They have been amazing," Bridgens said. "They have all been coming in every day and supporting me and trying to put a little bit of pressure on me in practice so that I'm prepared going into the meet. Our trainers have been getting me treatment every day, so everybody has been doing everything they can, and that's part of why I'm so excited to go and represent Penn State." 

While this is a big meet for the freshman, she is no stranger to intense meets. 

Prior to becoming a Division I collegiate athlete, Bridgens competed for a prestigious club team, and performed in Level 10 competitions and Junior Olympic Nationals among other high-level competitions. 

"She's been a part of large competitions before, but I think being up on the podium at the Big Ten championship was a really great preparation for her going into nationals," Brown said. "It's going to be something she can take back to the team and share with them so that they can get excited about their future and hopefully get the entire team there next year." 

"I feel like they prepared me a lot, because obviously there is a little bit of pressure going into a higher-level meet, but also competing at a high level before college will help me stay calm," Bridgens said."  

Bridgens admits it will be bittersweet without her team by her side, but she knows they're there in spirit.  She looks forward to sharing her experience with her teammates and hopes to return to encourage her team and hopefully see the national championships in the coming years. 

"My mindset going in is just to learn a lot," Bridgens said. I'm going more for the experience. I obviously want to do my best, but I also want to have fun and learn things that I can bring back to the team." 

While Brown has been to NCAA Championships as a former gymnast, this will be her first time taking the floor at such an event as a coach. Her excitement for Bridgens shines through.

"Its an amazing event. The way the whole championship is run from the way the practice and competition is held. I think being in the arena and seeing that is just going to make her hungrier for the future," Brown said. "As a staff, we've worked really hard to get to. I'm honored to be there and proud of Lauren, and I think it's going to be a great wrap up to the year, but we're already excited looking toward the future and getting ready for next year." 

Bridgens has a lot to look forward to post-competition as well. She will stay the next day following the championships to observe the Super Six competition, comprised of some of the most skilled and elite gymnasts in the nation, including many Olympians. 

"That's the goal, to be one of the top teams, so I'm kind of going to be fan-girling a little bit at that point!" Bridgens said. "It's going to be so much fun and such a crazy experience."

As they put the finishing touches on Bridgens' training and preparations, the Nittany Lions are looking forward to what the future holds. 

 "I think this speaks volumes as to what we have upcoming for this entire team and where our level of talent is," Brown said. "Lauren has been leading the team as a freshman this entire season athletically, but I would love to see her emerge as more of a vocal leader. Her class in general is really strong, so I think our future is really bright and Lauren is kind of leading the way for that."

Bridgens will take the floor with Arkansas at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis on April 20.

Penn State Set for EIVA Championship

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By Will Desautelle, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After closing the regular season with a senior night win, Penn State will head to George Mason for the EIVA Championship. Penn State clinched the No. 2 seed in this weekend's tournament with a 3-1 set win over NJIT to clinch the two-seed in this weekend's tournament. Read More

Penn State Set for EIVA Championship

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By Will Desautelle, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK - After closing the regular season with a senior night win, Penn State will head to George Mason for the EIVA Championship. Penn State clinched the No. 2 seed in this weekend's tournament with a 3-1 win over NJIT.

Only four of the eight teams in the league qualify for the EIVA Championship each year with the winner automatically earning a berth to the NCAA Tournament. Penn State will take on third-seeded Harvard in Thursday's semifinals.

Penn State defeated Harvard in straight sets early in the season but lost to the Crimson two weeks ago. The Nittany Lions were without three regular starters in Aidan Albrecht, Luke Braswell and Calvin Mende in the most recent loss. Both teams have grown very familiar with each other and Pavlik believes neither team will do anything drastically different from what has been seen in the previous two matchups.

"They run a 6-2 and are not an extremely physical serving team, so you have to pass their float servers pretty well," Pavlik said. "They just play good volleyball - they'll dig balls that are hit at them, and their two setters make good decisions and try to go fast to the antennas to put some pressure on your pin blockers"

For Pavlik though, it really comes down to who can execute to their strengths the best.

This weekend though, will be on foreign grounds for the Nittany Lions, marking the first time this roster has played in the EIVA Championship outside of Happy Valley. Penn State is an experienced group though and Pavlik's message all week has been to worry about the things they can control. 

"I think experience is not to be underrated, we've never had to go someplace and play in the EIVA championship," Pavlik said. "We've got to be good at controlling what we can control on the road. You get into the championship events and there are a lot of things you can't control." 

The good news for the Nittany Lions is everyone is back at full strength and there are no lingering health problems to be concerned about at the moment.

While the past few weeks for Nittany Lions have been up and down, a big reason for that has been not having everyone healthy. However, with key veteran leaders like Albrecht, Braswell and Mende all healthy, Penn State still has a great opportunity to win the tournament.

Pavlik has been very impressed by the leadership from not only his regular contributing Nittany Lions, but also many of the more inexperienced members of the team. 

"Leadership can be everybody," Pavlik said. "I don't think there is one overriding person ever. I think the people that are looking outside in to us tend to see people that are on the court the most and call them the leaders, when in reality, those on the inside who are surrounded by the forest understand that each and every one of us have a responsibility for leading whenever we can."

Penn State and Harvard will face off at 5 p.m. with the winner advancing to take on the winner of top-seeded George Mason and fourth-seeded Princeton in the final semifinal match of the day.

Penn State Offense Comes Alive

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The second inning Wednesday night was the type of inning the Penn State offense has been waiting for all season long. The Nittany Lions kept the bottom of the second going for about 30 minutes, sending 11 total batters to the plate. The result was six runs on seven hits that led Penn State to a 7-2 victory against Mount St. Mary's. Read More

Penn State Offense Comes Alive

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The second inning Wednesday night was the type of inning the Penn State offense has been waiting for all season long. 

The Nittany Lions kept the bottom of the second going for about 30 minutes, sending 11 total batters to the plate. The result was six runs on seven hits that led Penn State to a 7-2 victory against Mount St. Mary's.

"It's good for us," left fielder Parker Hendershot said. "Obviously we have been struggling lately. It's good to have a game where we get these runs and these hits here and there and it's hopefully something that can get us started for the rest of the season."

Hendershot got the second inning started with a single through the right side. After moving to third on a wild pitch and a ground out, shortstop Joe Weisenseel singled him home with a lined drive under the second baseman's glove. Tommy Gibson then knocked in Weisenseel on a single down the left field line before Ryan Sloniger brought home two more on a single to center.

Third baseman Connor Klemann kept the offense rolling with his first career triple on a shot to deep left center field. Hendershot, who started the inning, then knocked in the final run of the second with a double down the left field line. 

"It was fun," Hendershot said of the second inning. "Everyone was into it and we just kept piling them on. Hopefully we can continue to do that."

The offense tacked on another run in the third inning, but was unable to put another run on the board for the rest of the game. 

Although the scoring may have slowed down, Klemann did not. 

On top of his first career triple, the third baseman tied his career high with three hits on the evening with a run scored and an RBI.

"It definitely feels good," Klemann said of his three-hit night. "Baseball has its ups and downs. It's a long season and we're only half way. I've been hitting some balls hard, so I've been sticking with it. It was good to finally see some results tonight." 

Klemann got off to a hot start to the 2018 season hitting .297 through the first 20 games of the year, but over the past few weeks he has struggled at the plate. Entering Wednesday's game, Klemann was hitting just .243, but the third baseman was able to bump his average back up to .259 after his three-hit night.

Slumps are not something Klemann has had to battle in his time at Penn State. The third baseman has played and started in all 30 games this year, which is more games than he has played in a single season since his first season with the Nittany Lions in 2016.

In his freshman season, Klemann was named the opening day starting second baseman, but ended up with an injury in the first game that sidelined him until April, allowing him to play in only 28 games. Again in 2017, Klemann only played in 10 games before he was forced to end his season due to another injury.  

For Penn State head coach Rob Cooper, because Klemann hasn't be able to get a full season under his belt, he hasn't had to learn how to bounce back from hitting slumps. 

"It's been awhile," Cooper said. "It's one thing that we talked about earlier. It was like, 'Hey man, I know you're struggling. I know you want to get out of it. It's kind of new to you. You got to stay with it.' He made some adjustments to his swing yesterday and it kind of showed up today."

The adjustments the third baseman made to his swing prior to Wednesday's game paid off with two singles and a stand up triple that gave Klemann his first multi-hit game since March 30 against Purdue.

"Obviously he can really hit," Cooper said. "He's a guy that hits in the middle of our lineup and when he can do some damage it helps."

Along with Klemann's hot bat, Hendershot continued his hot streak going 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI, while Weisenseel went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. The hot offensive night gave Penn State its first win since March 25 snapping an 11-game losing streak.

The Nittany Lions hope that the hot bats continue in Ann Arbor, Michigan this weekend when the team takes on the Wolverines.

"I think we should treat every game the same no matter who it is," Hendershot said. "I think we should go in there knowing what we are capable of and put the past experiences behind us. Just focus on the task at and just knowing that we can beat any team in the country as long as we just focus and put our mind to it."

Spring Ball Top Performers: Linebackers, Quarterbacks

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's spring season has nearly come to a close with Saturday's annual Blue-White game marking the final practice of the spring season. Ahead of the weekend, Penn State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ricky Rahne and defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Pry paused for closer look inside spring ball. Read More

Spring Ball Top Performers: Linebackers, Quarterbacks

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's spring season has nearly come to a close with Saturday's annual Blue-White game marking the final practice of the spring season.

Ahead of the weekend, Penn State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ricky Rahne and defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Pry paused for closer look inside spring ball.

Talking quarterbacks and linebackers, both Rahne and Pry also give a quick snapshot of a few Nittany Lions stepping forward on both sides of the ball.

There's no question the Nittany Lions have plenty of roles to replace defensively, beginning with the situation at linebacker

As Penn State head coach James Franklin noted early this week, when it comes to filling a priority position in the middle linebacker spot, it all comes down to trust and consistency. 

For Pry though, spring ball has been an opportunity to get a variety of Nittany Lions plenty of snaps at multiple positions. The results so far having been promising. 

"Cam Brown has started off very well," Pry said. "Jan Johnson is very steady. Ellis Brooks has made some flashes. Jake Cooper has shown flashes."

Among the younger group, Pry like many, is pleased with the transition Micah Parsons has made since arriving to campus as an early enrollee.

His biggest surprise in the room though is Jarvis Miller, who has shown progress at outside linebacker.

"Jarvis has always had abilities and a skillset but hasn't been able to play with them," Pry said. "He is comfortable. He knows his position. He's doing some good things out there."

Outside of the linebackers, Pry only echoed the earlier picks of a few previous position coaches. 

In the back end, there's Jonathan Sutherland and Garrett Taylor, led by the leadership of newly elected captain Nick Scott. Among the cornerbacks, Pry also noted he and the staff have been continually impressed by Donovan Johnson.

"Defensively overall, we have some guys up front who are getting a lot of reps for the first time in their career and doing some good things," Pry said. "Obviously there are your steadies in there, Kevin Givens, Shareef Miller and those guys. At the same time Antonio Shelton is really having a good spring. A guy we'll be counting on who is in competition for significant playing time."

On the offensive side of the ball, for Rahne there's no better place to start than with quarterback Trace McSorley, who has only continued to lead with the same confidence he has had since taking over as Penn State's starting signal caller.

"He has such command of the offense, not only the schemes but also the timing of everything," Rahne said. "He makes great throws. He does everything physically. He's a great player, really happy to coach him."

While pleased with all of Penn State's quarterbacks, Rahne also noted sophomore Sean Clifford has done some good things with an increase in reps this spring.

"I'm happy with what Sean is doing really from the mental side and being able to consistently put together big plays," Rahne said.

Outside of the quarterbacks, much like Franklin, Rahne is pleased with the progress the entire offensive line has continued to make. 

"I think they have been blocking very well, getting movement," Rahne said.

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