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Baseball Ready for First True Weekend Home Series

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

After a dramatic 5-2 win over Villanova Wednesday, Penn State continues its 10-game home stand Friday night with a three-game set against Central Connecticut State. 

This will be the first true three-game home series of the season after last weekend's Big Ten clash with Indiana was shortened to a Sunday double header due to weather. Penn State head coach Rob Cooper and his squad are looking forward to (hopefully) having a full weekend series at home.

"I love playing at home and I love playing at Medlar Field and just want to get after it Friday," Cooper said.

Penn State, winners of four of its last five, has begun to string together wins since returning from road trips down south in the late winter and early spring.

It's been late game comebacks in the past few wins for Penn State, something that Cooper is proud of his team for.

"Being able to not think it's the end of the world when another team gets ahead and know that you have the ability to come back and bring the next guy up.," he said. "It's something as a program you have to learn how to do if you want to be really good."

Another big reason why wins have started to turn in favor of Penn State, is the Nittany Lion bullpen, which had another big night on Wednesday. Led by junior Jack Anderson, the bullpen has turned in 28 2/3 innings with an ERA of 1.26 and collecting 27 strikeouts to 16 hits in their last five games.

Especially as the weather still doesn't favor pitcher's ability to have longer outings, having multiple reliable relievers has been a luxury for the Nittany Lions. Freshman Sal Biasi has hit the ground running in his first season at Penn State. Biasi has posted a 2.35 ERA in 15 1/3 innings with 16 strikeouts.

Biasi is a perfect example of what Cooper wants from freshman when they first enter the program. 

"We tell guys when we recruit them, 'I don't want you guys waiting around until you're a sophomore or just try to make the travel roster, I want you to come in and be the guy,'" Cooper said. "A guy like Sal, Marco, Lehman and those guy shave tried to come in and make an impact. It allows us to say 'yeah this is who we need to use here.' (Biasi) has earned that right." 

Looking ahead to Central Connecticut this weekend, Cooper said upon looking at CCSU the Nittany Lions have a tough task ahead against a strong program out of the Northeastern Conference.

"They're a very well coached team," Cooper said. "Coach (Charlie) Hickey does an unbelievable job. They're usually a team that fights for a conference championship and has played in a regional before. It will be a heck of a test." 

The series begins Friday at 5:30, with Saturday's game at 1:00 and Sunday's slated for noon. 

Lions Take on Rutgers in First B1G Game

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the first ten games played, the Penn State women's lacrosse team will enter the next portion of its season this weekend. For the first time, the Nittany Lions will take on an opponent in its new conference. This is Big Ten.

As the No. 15 Blue and White (7-3) travel to Rutgers (1-9) this weekend, they will look to build off Tuesday's comeback win over No. 9 Stanford. Right now, the team has momentum on its side. It wants this success to continue.

"It's exciting, a Big Ten Network game," head coach Missy Doherty said. "I think we want to just keep getting better. We have to hold teams to less than 15 goals. It's still great that we outscored them [Stanford], but we need to do our best job of limiting players. We'll look to do that against Rutgers."

While the team's defense may be the area Doherty is looking to improve upon, the Nittany Lion offense has certainly been doing its part.

Penn State is averaging 14.2 goals and 31.2 shots per game. Leading the way in shots is senior midfielder Tatum Coffey. She has attempted 41 through the opening ten matches and has 21 points on the season.

Coffey is tied with sophomore Steph Lazo for second in scoring, and both sit behind Maggie McCormick. McCormick has dished out 23 assists this season alone and scored 15 goals of her own.

To emerge victorious on Saturday, the team will need its top scorers to continue their hot streak. These leaders need to stay consistent and produce.

"Rutgers is always, even in any sport, they're always scrappy," Coffey said. "They're always an athletic team. So, we're just going to bring this energy that we had over to that game and throughout the Big Ten season. We're going to win a Big Ten Championship."

Rutgers enters this weekend's matchup on a nine-game losing streak, and while the Scarlet Knights may seem like an easy opponent to down, it is clear that they will be hungry for a taste of success.

Nevertheless, the fact that Rutgers is scoring only 8.6 goals each game could work in favor of the Lions' defense. This first Big Ten opponent is certainly a team Penn State can hold off. It will just have to make sure it is putting forth a strong effort throughout the entirety of the 60 minutes played.

This opening conference games marks the beginning of what will be an exciting season of Big Ten lacrosse. The Nittany Lions have the chance to go up against some of the top teams in women's college lacrosse, including the consistently successful No. 1 Maryland, No. 4 Northwestern and No. 18 Ohio State.

While the Lions have been tested early in the season, the best lacrosse is yet to come. They will have to make adjustments and tighten up in some areas, but success is imminent for this group of Nittany Lions.

The team is anticipating some big victories and many upsets. As Coffey mentioned, this group wants to win a Big Ten Championship. Penn State is ready to give its heart and soul in this conference stretch.

But, the Blue and White will have to take these matches one game at a time, starting with Rutgers.

At 1 p.m. Saturday, the Nittany Lions and Scarlet Nights will go head to head. Big Ten women's lacrosse is about to begin.

Nittany Lions Look to Be More Balanced in 2015-'16

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10937792.jpegBy Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK. Pa. - It was a short offseason for the Penn State men's basketball team.

Following a run to the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, head coach Patrick Chambers gave his players a week off to clear their heads and reflect on the season. Starting this week, however, the Lions wanted to get back into the gym.

"We're excited and we've already started," Chambers said. "We already started our spring workouts and our guys wanted to get back in the gym. That's exciting, especially for me. We're going to start lifting [Monday] and I think they're in a good place heading into the offseason."

While Penn State went through plenty of ups and downs this season, three straight wins in March, including two in the conference tournament, offer plenty to build on for the future. With six players who averaged double-digit minutes returning next season, the Lions will have plenty of experience entering their next campaign.

At the same time, there will clearly be big shoes to fill with leading scorer D.J. Newbill graduating. Not only was Newbill the unquestioned leader of the Lions, he scored nearly 31 percent of the teams points (20.7 per-game) in 2014-'15.

As much as the team relied on Newbill the past three seasons, Coach Chambers doesn't want a single player scoring the majority of the team's points next season. In the Big Ten Tournament, the Lions got double-digit scoring efforts from senior forward Ross Travis, sophomore guard Geno Thorpe and freshman guard Shep Garner, a trend Chambers hopes continues in the future.

"We were close to averaging four guys the last six games in double-digits," Chambers said. "I'd like to see us play like that. I'd like to see really good production. Now do I want to see the disparity between the leading scorer and the second leading scorer? No, I don't. If we can get it to [five different players averaging] 14, 12, 11, 10, 10, that's going to make us a very difficult team to guard."

Even without one dominant scorer, it is likely that Penn State will continue to get a bulk of its offense from its backcourt. Garner and Thorpe, two players that showed exceptional growth this season, will be counted on even more.

A true freshman, Garner started every game at point guard and scored in double figures 15 times, while Thorpe showed such offensive improvement that Chambers inserted the team's sixth man and defensive ace into the starting lineup even though that meant shifting Newbill from shooting guard to small forward.

Still, that doesn't mean that both players don't have room for improvement. Garner, who averaged 9.1 points-per-game, will have even more ball handling responsibility and will need to be more consistent. Thorpe, who improved his scoring average from 3.2 to 8.8 from his freshman to sophomore campaign, will need to continue to adjust to being relied upon on offense, as well as defense.

"We're going to count on them a lot, for different things," Chambers said. "Off the court first, leadership. And they have a lot to get better at and they know that. We're just scratching the surface with both of them.

"Geno really shot the ball well at the end of the season, he was close to 40 percent from three the last six or seven games. Shep gave us that roller coaster ride but a maybe a little more consistent towards the end. I think his assist to turnover ratio was outstanding the last six games."

Although Penn State has had a host of high-scoring guards in recent years, it will be paramount for the Nittany Lions frontcourt to help them carry the load next season. In Jordan Dickerson, Donovon Jack and Brandon Taylor, the Lions have three rising seniors that Chambers believes are capable of doing it.

Out of the three, Taylor is the most accomplished scorer, having finished second on the team in scoring this year with 9.3 points. His ability to score in the paint and from the outside is shared by the 6-foot-9 Jack, while the 7-foot Dickerson will look to further develop his postgame this summer.

"I think Jordan is coming, he shot 60 percent from the floor the last six games," Chambers said. "This offseason is going to be critical for him. We need to put the ball inside, because it's going to put you on the free throw line, but they've got to make their free throws too."

Overall, there will certainly be some transitioning to do as the Lions get used to life without Newbill. With a top recruiting class featuring two ESPN top 100 recruits in Josh Reaves and Mike Watkins and Lithuanian star Deividas Zemgulis, as well as rising sophomores like Julian Moore and Payton Banks, Penn State has more than it's share of young talent.

The goal however, is still to win. Players come and go every year in college basketball, and Chambers is excited to coach the group that he has now.

"I think [the Big Ten Tournament] taught our program and our younger guys that we can compete and we are good enough," Chambers said. "After that game (season ending loss to Purdue), I didn't see a dry eye and I knew we were closer than we've been. We're gonna be young but we're coming." 

Alex Witt Reaching New Height on Uneven Bars and in the Classroom

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10856891.jpegBy Gabby Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When most kids are an 11-year-old, their career is usually the last thing on their mind. Penn State women's gymnastics senior Alex Witt was different; she has always known that she wanted to become a doctor.

If the Florida native knew one thing for certain, aside from her desired career path, she knew that she wanted to continue competitive gymnastics in college. She needed to find a school that would allow her to excel in the classroom and in the gym, and Penn State was that place.

"Moving up here was a huge adjustment for me," Witt said. "I was hundreds of miles away from home. But, by the end of sophomore year, I was involved with clubs, doing really well in school. You have to take advantage of everything this school has to offer."

Witt's junior year was a roller coaster ride; she missed the first eight meets of the season due to a thumb injury. Witt's primary event is uneven bars and was unable to train her upper-body for a good portion of the season.

"It was crazy," Witt said. "I had to have surgery on my thumb and then I was out for three months. But, I never lost faith that I would be back at sometime that season. I did walkthroughs with the team in the gym and was constantly doing cardio. Uneven bars is my best event, so I knew I just had to keep my mind fresh."

After three months of rehabilitation, Witt was ready to start to fight her way back into the starting rotation.

"We had to shuffle some things around in the lineup before NCAA Regionals last year," head coach Jeff Thompson said. "If Alex [Witt] didn't step up and perform as well as she did on bars, I don't know if we would have made it to the [NCAA] championships."

At the 2014 NCAA Regionals, Witt delivered a career defining performance, scoring a 9.850 on uneven bars. Her score not only lifted the team to the NCAA Championships, proved to her that she was 'back' and ready to compete.

This mentality that she has grown into because of gymnastics has influenced her desire to become an emergency room doctor or even venture into cardiology.

"Being an athlete has taught me how to deal with high pressure situations," Witt said. "As an ER doctor, I would have to be aware of multiple patients at once. Being able to focus and have a clear head is something that I have learned from this sport. I know that I would be prepared for that line of work."

This season, Witt has been consistent, delivery solid performances on bars at every meet. She is not only a senior, but also a leader in the event category. Penn State has always been solid, consistently, on floor and vault, but this year Witt's dedication has forged a path for new success on the apparatus.

"Alex [Witt] is the type of kid you want to recruit," Thompson said. "She is a hard worker, but she also knows how to have a good time. She makes you laugh and really understands that you have to take the good with the bad and make the most of it."

Most recently, Witt helped the team to a securing it's second highest bar score of the season at the Big Ten Championships. Witt's 9.850 performance helped the team to a 49.275 finish in the category.

"You just have to breathe," Witt said. "At the end of the day, it is just a sport, you can't be too hard on yourself. Things aren't going to go your way 100 percent of the time. In club gymnastics, you only compete for yourself, but college is different. Here, you compete for your teammates, coaches, all while representing your school. If you keep perspective, everything will be okay."
 

By Miranda KulpGoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. --  Sophomore Shelby Miller and freshman Alyssa VanDerveer led the charge as the Penn State softball team defeated Robert Morris 2-0 and 9-1 in Wednesday night's doubleheader.  

The Lions made their presence known at the plate. As a team, strikeouts improved from 11 in the first game to only two in the second. 

"I think comparing the two games, we seemed much more relaxed at the plate during the second game," said head coach Amanda Lehotak. 

In the opener, the blue and white got on the board early with a pair of runs during the first inning with a single by VanDerveer and a throwing error by RMU.

Although the Lions weren't able to increase those runs, the team stayed focused and determined to prevent the Colonials from scoring.

"I would say defensive play is extremely important. Sometimes during a game we're faced with a pitcher, like Robert Morris's, who knows how to keep off us the bases and that's when the team really needs to adjust our hitting approach and make sure we're staying focused on the field," said Lehotak.

Although two runs may not be the biggest lead, pitcher Marlaina Laubach threw an impressive game by only allowing one hit through RMU's first six innings. 

Ending the game with a 2-0 victory, the Lions took a break and came back with high energy and ready for a strong start for the second game.

"One of the biggest aspects of being a coach is making sure the team's energy is good," said Lehotak. "It's never easy playing back-to-back games and we want to make sure our players are feeling good for the start of the second game."

Penn State quickly got on the board. Reina Furuya was walked with bases loaded to set up a two RBIs by Mollie Sorenson.

"We started being aggressive early in the game, and I'm very happy with how we rebounded in game two" said Lehotak.

After tacking on another three runs, the blue and white increased the lead in the bottom of the fourth when Miller hit a homer to center field, bringing in two more runs to make the lead 7-0. 

"I mean it always feels great when you get a home run," said Miller. " To me though it matters more that I was able to help my team today and I think we all did a great job being aggressive on the bases tonight."

Following Miller's lead, Alyssa VanDerveer hit her sixth homer of the season in the fifth inning.

"We showed a lot of focus while at bat and made sure we were swinging at the right pitches and that helped us get a lead early in the game," said VanDerveer.

In the beginning of the season, the Nittany Lions made it a mission to focus on the team's toughness and aggression while at bat and last night's game proved the team is heading in the right direction.

"I think one key aspect to the team's victory tonight was the general attitude we all had," said VanDerveer. 

After Wednesday's sweep, Penn State will be back on the road with another B1G weekend series at Michigan State. The series will be a double header on Saturday followed by a Sunday matinee.

 

 

By Gabby Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- At the beginning of the 2014-2015 season, Penn State women's basketball head coach Coquese Washington said one of her main priorities was "to get to know the team." With only one senior this season, the Nittany Lion roster was full of underclassmen, which meant new talent and new personalities that Washington needed to braid into the Penn State women's basketball fabric.

Out of the gate, the Nittany Lions were putting up an impressive fight against opponents, despite being a young, inexperienced team. The pre-season WNIT Tournament showed the potential of this team, as two of four losses were determined by a single basket. This mentality of continued growth played out throughout the season, a mentality their record didn't necessarily reflect.

Towards the middle of the season, the Nittany Lions were becoming more aggressive inside the paint and getting better at shot selection. Redshirt sophomore, Sierra Moore and freshman Lindsey Spann were offensive powerhouses, successfully making it into each column of the scoring table. The dynamic duo finished atop not just the scoring chart, but the steals and three-point column, too. This leadership in the scoring position remained steadfast all season, setting the pace for what is likely to be a more successful season next year.

"What I like to see is continued growth," Washington said. "We started to do some good things as we closed out the season. I really want to see our post-game continue to be a bright spot for us next year and to see us grow in our ability to create easy shots."

With the graduation of senior Tori Waldner, the Nittany Lions lose one of their tallest centers on the roster. The 6-foot-5 Lady Lion is leaving behind some big shoes to fill, shoes that junior Candice Agee had started to fill during the end of the season. Agee, who stands at 6-foot-6 has been a strong post player for the Lady Lions, as she led the team in offensive rebounds and blocked shots. Sophomore Kaliyah Mitchell stepped up this season, too. Mitchell is aggressive, a skill that has helped her draw fouls, get the rebound and break up the opposition's scoring drive, as she finished the season with an average of 1.5 steals a game.

"Some of our incoming freshman will definitely fill some of the gaps that we have," Washington said. "Shot opportunity will definitely be a big area for us. I just want to see us build off of where we finished this season. Between April and August we have to make some big steps, individually and collectively as a team."

As the team closes out a rebuilding year, the record doesn't reflect how the team has grown since the pre-season WNIT tournament. Wins and losses define tangible success, but that doesn't always influence or create an environment for a team to get better. The upcoming off-season will be a crucial time for the Lady Lions to come back to the drawing board and adjust, even more, to their roles on the court.

"We just need to learn to rely on each other," Agee said. "We just need to work on figuring out when and how we can get the ball to each other on areas of the court where we can be successful. That comes with knowing each other, and we will only get to know each other better."

"Individual leadership is important," Washington said. "You have to start working and improving now. You're not always going to be in the gym with your teammates or a coach. It isn't always going to be spoon-fed to you; you have to put in lots of time to get better. We talk to them about having individual responsibility. You have to make time to get in the gym and get better."

Coach Washington has been through a similar situation before. When her 2010-11 roster fell short in the NCAA tournament, they were in the gym working shortly after. That season lit a fire under the Lady Lions; it pushed them to get better, to work harder

The following year, the 2011-12 team won the regular season Big Ten Championship, achieving the same success the next two seasons as well.

"I think this group is hungry," Washington said. "They want much better results next year. I have seen this before."

Her faith in this team and their talent has never faltered. If there is one thing the Penn State community knows for sure it is this: Coach Washington knows how to harness drive and passion for the game, something no win or loss column can accurately illustrate.

Here's to looking forward to the 2015-16 season. 

By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - After finishing the regular season with five wins, two second-place finishes and one loss, the Penn State men's gymnastics team hopes to secure the program's third conference title in the Big Ten Championships this weekend in Rec Hall.

"I'm a little anxious, but ultimately excited," said freshman Thad Lawson. "To think the season is almost coming to a close is crazy. The days have been long, but the weeks have just flown by and I've just been really excited for the future."

The Nittany Lions will be reuniting with a handful of teams that they have competed against earlier this season, but the results from those meets are no indication of what the results will be for this weekend.

"I have no idea [what the results will be]," said head coach Randy Jepson. "We haven't shown our best yet and I think we're getting closer to where we can do that."

Penn State has been hard at work these past two weeks in preparation for this weekend. With a conference crown on the line, the Blue and White have been practicing a bit differently, but more strategically.

"We've been doing our routines the way we've been doing them the entire season, but we've been doing more competition-style practices rather than the regular traditional practices where everyone kind of does their own thing, just to get used to having a way around the new routine and put on a little bit of pressure," said senior Tristan Duverglas.

During practices, the men's gymnastics have been mainly focusing on the little details - an important aspect to winning.

"Being consistent and sticking landings [is important]," said head coach Randy Jepson. "The team that hits the most routines and sticks the most dismounts is the team that's going to win this meet."

Duverglas adds that in order to win, it's important to never give up.

"The key to winning is definitely not beating ourselves," said Duverglas. "We've done it in the past where we've kind of over thought things or we didn't go out and do what we needed to do, so I think that's been our biggest flaw. We kind of tip ourselves out of the competition, like we lose meets because we lost them, not necessarily because we did a good job and the other team was better, we just didn't have as good of a meet as we should have."

With this type of practice and better knowledge, the best meets and routines are right in front of the Lions.

"I honestly expect us to perform better than we've performed in the past, especially most recently," said Duverglas. "I think we've gotten to the point where we know exactly what we can do and our biggest thing is that we can't take ourselves out of the competition. We have to stay focus, put all our energy onto us and not worry about what other people are doing."

Duverglas, the captain of the men's gymnastics team, plans to lead the team to success by constantly encouraging his teammates.

"[I'm going to] be there for the team," said Duverglas. "I'll be the loudest one cheering. If someone messes up and falls, I'll let me know that 'It's okay and we all mess up sometimes,' just to get their head back in the game. Being if I mess up, then I get my head back in it and really be a support for everybody."

The Nittany Lions recorded a perfect home record this season and hope to continue that feat as they perform in Rec Hall for the conference title.

"I think [being home has its advantage], but not necessarily score-wise, but just how it feels to compete. Being surrounded by thousands of Penn State fans and people here to cheer us on, that energy is unlike anything else, so being able to have that at home and really immerse ourselves in it, I think it'll give us a bit of a confidence boost."

Even with a competitive atmosphere this weekend, there is a lot respect between all the teams.

"It's going to be a spirited meet and it will be a lot of fun" said coach Jepson. "These guys [in the Big Ten] have grown up together. They've been doing gymnastics together with these other guys and these other teams around the country since they were nine, ten years old, so everyone knows everyone. They've competed against each other forever and there's a lot of rivalry. It's a lot of fun, but when the meets over, it's really kind of nice because the community of gymnastics is such that these are friendly rivalries. We support each other and these are good quality coaches and good quality teams."

Lions Face Buckeyes in Big Ten Opener

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10838977.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions are eager to begin their second season as they open Big Ten competition for the first time in program history. As they look ahead to Ohio State, the Nittany Lions prepare to take on their long-time foe.

Discussion of Big Ten lacrosse started several years ago, when Maryland and Rutgers were in talks to join the conference. With the addition of honorary member Johns Hopkins, Penn State joins five other teams for the inaugural season of Big Ten lacrosse. Head coach Jeff Tambroni applauds the fellow programs in the conference for their decorated history within the sport of lacrosse.  

"With the addition of teams like Johns Hopkins, Rutgers and Maryland the competition is not only raised but the exposure of those particular programs and how tradition rich they are," said Tambroni.  "Those are the blue bloods of college lacrosse and the attachment of our association with them as well as Michigan and Ohio State just makes for very exciting opportunities."

The level of competition increases as Penn State continues their 2015 campaign, but the Lions are poised to take on every team, one game at a time.

Another welcomed change to the rest of the season, other than the level of difficulty, is the exposure Penn State will get from the Big Ten. With the rest of their games on television, Penn State will see national attention and be thrown into the spotlight every coming weekend.  

"You certainly get a lot more exposure because the Big Ten wants to promote one of their sports on television," said Tambroni.  "Through regular season games all the way to our conference tournament, the exposure is there."

Coach Tambroni believes the television component will be vital in marketing the Penn State lacrosse program to a wider audience. Making the game available to previously unreached audiences is vital for the program to build a larger fan base.

"I think [television exposure] is going to do a lot for the sport of lacrosse and I also believe it will do a lot for Penn State," said Tambroni.

Penn State will open Big Ten play against border rival Ohio State. The Nittany Lions have faced the Buckeyes every season under head coach Jeff Tambroni. Most recently, Penn State defeated Ohio State 11-8 in Columbus last March. This weekend's game will be vital in setting the tone for Penn State's identity as a Big Ten contender.

"I think no matter what the records are this is always an extremely hard-fought game," said Tambroni.  "I think both teams compete hard against one another. You know when you play Michigan and Ohio State, you know kind of the founders of the Big Ten lacrosse conference, and these guys go after each other pretty good."

Tambroni knows the new Big Ten conference boasts powerhouses in the sport of lacrosse, but believes with the beginning of the season to build off of, the Nittany Lions have what it takes to hang in a tough crowd.

"There's a lot on the line now," said Tambroni.  "It's not just Ohio State-Penn State it's the first game of the Big Ten and you want to get yourself off to a good start in the Big Ten conference and secure each and every win that you can because those things are going to be so valuable in the end."

Tambroni and company have been working on emphasizing the team aspect of the game. Working as one will be a key component to the Lions' matchup against Ohio State.

"I want to maximize the talents of this team, not necessarily each individual, but the talents of this team and I think if we can do that, regardless if it's the first time we've ever competed in the Big Ten or we've done it for years," said Tambroni. "We just want to make sure we can look back and do it without regret."

Tambroni emphasized that with this inaugural season as members of the Big Ten, wins aren't the only focus. Building a strong foundation for Penn State amongst the other member teams is just as important.

"Hopefully we develop the kind of relationships that are going to last a lifetime and that have nothing to do with the scoreboard," said Tambroni.

As the Big Ten games kick the season into full gear, Penn State is prepared to fight for every goal and every save, and demonstrate their strengths for the community.

"At the end of the day we would hope when someone walked away from one of our games they would say 'man that team plays hard, man that team really cares about each other' and it makes anybody who's associated with Penn State very proud to be associated with the same team that's on the field competing and playing for them," said Tambroni.

Penn State takes on Ohio State Sunday at 3 p.m. 

Guers' Double Sparks Nittany Lions Win Over Villanova

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9913558.jpegBy Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Even on a tough night at the plate, Greg Guers couldn't help but feel he was due for a hit.

It was the eighth inning of the Penn State baseball team's contest against Villanova, and the junior was 0-3 on the evening. Still, he found himself in a situation every batter dreams of; tie game, bases loaded, two outs.

"I was trying to get a pitch I could handle," Guers said. "We do a lot of mental game preparation, with confidence and staying with things. Even though I was 0-3, I thought, 'I'm in the biggest spot of the game right now I've got to contribute to the team.'"

After fouling off pitch after pitch, Guers finally saw a ball he liked on a 1-2 count and drove a shot to the right center gap for a double that cleared the bases and gave the Lions an eventual 5-2 win and their third victory in the past four games.

On a night in which Penn State's pitchers shined throughout, Guers gave the offense a much needed boost as the Lions threatened multiple times earlier in the game but stranded 10 runners on base.

In a way, it was fitting that Guers delivered the winning hit. Dating back to last season, the Langhorne, Pennsylvania native, has been counted on as a lynchpin in the lineup, hitting third or fourth last year and currently batting second.

While Cooper has always felt Guers is one of the most talented hitters the Nittany Lions have, he believes the designated hitter and outfielder has turned a corner since last season by improving his mental approach.

"Unbelievable, and what's really awesome about it is last year at this time he wouldn't have been able to do that," Cooper said. "He'll be the first one to tell you, he's really made a choice mentally to battle and fight and compete. I had just gotten done writing down, 'that's an unbelievable at-bat,' and he smokes a ball. Big time at-bat."

It was the second-straight game that Nittany Lions broke out offensively towards the end of the game, as they used a two huge innings in the seventh and eighth to beat Indiana 13-7 on Sunday. This time around, James Coates walked, Ryan Richter poked a single up the middle and Alex Malinsky blooped a fly ball that the right fielder couldn't catch to set up Guers at-bat.

According to Guers, the Lions were calm entering their half of the eight, yet still determined to get a run across after watching pitchers Geoff Boylston and Jack Anderson battle all night.


"We had a lot of situations to score guys today and we didn't do that but I think everyone has confidence in whoever comes to the plate in that situation," Guers said. "I was just lucky to be that guy. The dugout's fine and the dugout's pumped up for anyone in that situation.

"They've been pitching well the past week or two, so today it was great to get them a win again. We're confident in them and they're confident in us."

The Nittany Lions pitchers certainly have been on form since the team returned home last Wednesday against Canisius. Similar to that game, it was Boylston who held down the fort, even if things weren't as smooth this time.

A week after he struck out a career high eight batters in an 11-1 win over the Golden Griffins, the senior put down just three batters against the Wildcats. Regardless, he battled for 5 1/3 innings and gave up just two runs, one of them unearned.

From there, Anderson entered and looked dominant, giving up just one hit in 2 2/3 scoreless innings before freshman Sal Biasi picked up the save in the ninth.

"When you have those two guys, they're great pitchers," Boylston said of Anderson and Biasi. "Jack you see time and time again gets it done. I never had a doubt in my mind and Sal's a great arm too. There's never worry when those guys are in."

It may not have been the prettiest win, but it was a win regardless. The Lions are now 3-1 since retuning home, and Cooper said he is impressed with the fight his team has shown recently.

"We could have played better defense, could have pitched better could have hit better," Cooper said. "But to their credit, they made the choice and battled back into it and fought." 

Nittany Lions Ready to Race One Last Time in Iowa City

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10609906.jpegBy Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the 2014-'15 season drawing to a close, six Nittany Lions have the opportunity to race one last time.  After a quick turn around from the Big Ten Championships, Penn State is headed back to Iowa City for the Men's NCAA Championships.

Coming off a seventh place finish at Big Tens, the Nittany Lions have spent the past three weeks preparing for this meet and making the appropriate changes to their training. The main focus for NCAAs will be strong morning swims in order to score in finals.

"We are focusing on getting a second swims in our races," said senior Nate Savoy.  "We know we have to swim really fast in the morning in order to do that."

The NCAA competition is the most selective meet in college swimming.  In order to participate, swimmers must reach or surpass a specific time standard. At the beginning of the season, time standards are released for each event, which are referred to as "A" and "B" cuts. In order to receive an automatic invite to the meet, a swimmer must achieve an "A" cut.  Once conference meets are finished, swimmers with "B" times are then invited based on their ranking in an event.  Typically the top 37-40 swimmers in each event receive a bid for NCAAs.

Two swimmers who qualified individually for Penn State are senior Nate Savoy, and junior Shane Ryan.  Both Savoy and Ryan have qualified for NCAAs in years past, and have led the Nittany Lions in points this season.

Savoy will be competing in the 100 and 200 backstroke, which he placed second in at the Big Ten Championships.  Savoy is also the current record holder for the Nittany Lions in the 200 backstroke.

Ryan qualified in the 50 and 100 freestyles, as well as the 100 backstroke.  At Big Tens Ryan took home a bronze in the 50 freestyle and a gold medal in the 100 backstroke.  He also had the eighth fastest time in the 100 freestyle.

The four other Nittany Lions to compete at NCAAs are: senior Kyle Madley, junior Matt Grillo and sophomores Bob Bantley and Andrew Schuehler.  The trio will participate in Penn State's relays alongside Savoy and Ryan.

Last year Penn State had its best finish in over a decade, finishing 17th place.  The Nittany Lions were within 10 points of their finish at the 2001 NCAA Championships, which was their strongest in history.

This year the Nittany Lions look to improve upon that finish, and are focusing on scoring big in relays.

"We have a good chance to score in our relays which will be huge points for the team," said Savoy.

Relays rack up the most points for teams.  A first place finish in a relay is worth almost double the points as a first place individual event.  Strong relay performances can make a huge difference on a team's total score as well where they finish in the meet.

Currently, the Nittany Lions are seeded in the top 20 for the 200 and 400 medley relays and the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.

Live results for the meet can be found online at hawkeyesports.com throughout the duration of the meet.