By Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's
softball team is in Ann Arbor, Mich. to end the regular season by facing No. 3
Michigan this weekend. After a five-game winning streak, the Nittany Lions
enter this series with a 28-24 overall record, including a 9-11 Big Ten record.
With the first pitch set for 5:30
p.m. on Friday, Penn State and Michigan will be facing off in a three-game
In the past the Lions trail the
series 56-7 against the Wolverines, but this time Coach Lehotak and the team
are coming in hungry for the fight.
So far this season, the Blue and
White have been making an explosive presence at the plate with a total of seven
grand slams so far.
In those seven grand slams, two were
during the same inning on April, 1 against Bucknell. Penn State is the sixth
team in record Division I NCAA softball history to hit a pair of grand slams in
Some players specifically who have
been leading the pack at the plate are Alyssa VanDerveer with three grand
slams, Kristina Brackpool with two, Shelby Miller and Reina Furuya who each
have one grand slam of their own.
Another Lion who has made a name for
herself offensively is junior Macy Jones. She's leading the team with 41 runs,
99 total bases and is batting at .639.
"The team is back to keeping it
simple at the plate and we're much better when our mindset is simple rather
than trying to hard to get big," said head coach Amanda Lehotak.
With their bats ready to go, Lehotak
is ready to lead her squad into the weekend and are hoping to end the regular
season on a high note by showing Michigan a good fight for the wins.
Michigan enters its final home
series with a 45-6 record, 18-2 in Big Ten play. The Wolverines carry a .336
batting average with a great presence at the plate. Sierra Romero leads the B1G
with a .468 BA and runs scored with 66. Kelly Christner trails for second
place with 62 runs. The pair tallies 17 homeruns each.
Megan Betsa leads the Wolverine at the mound
with 22 wins and 244 strikeouts. Her ERA of 1.46 leads the conference. Fellow
pitcher Haylie Wagner totals 101 strikeouts on the season.
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY
PARK, Pa.- Watching college kids graduate is nothing new to Rob Cooper.
the Nittany Lions' head coach is in his 11th season at the helm of a
college program, after working as an assistant for more than a decade. In that
time, Cooper, like every college coach, has said goodbye to a different group
of young men every spring.
a process that never gets any easier for him. With Penn State's final home
series of the season this weekend against Rutgers, the old emotions
are already coming back for the skipper.
senior days really hard," Cooper said. "I know number one, how tough it is to
do something your whole life and then you're no longer playing baseball,
something every spring you've gotten ready to do. I'm sensitive to that but I'm
also sensitive to the fact that these guys, although they choose to, have given
up a lot of time and energy and it directly impacts me and my family. So I want
to them go out on a good note."
hand, this current group of eight Nittany Lion seniors may seem like any other
graduating class. At the same time, Cooper will always remember this group
fondly for helping him adjust to Penn State.
accepted the head coaching job at Penn State two years ago after nine seasons
at Wright State, it was clear the Nittany Lions were in a rebuilding phase.
Cooper accepted the challenge from day one, yet it was still nice for the coach to have players who embraced his style.
crop of seniors, which consisted of nine guys, went a long way in helping
Cooper implement the culture the coach wanted at Penn State. But this year's
crew has been just as responsive.
was very welcoming to me when I got the job," Cooper said. "Even though maybe
on record it doesn't show that we've made progress, it's definitely night and
day compared to when I got here and that's a testament to them."
feel just as strongly about their coach as he feels about them. When Cooper
arrived after their sophomore seasons, many of them were still raw players just
scratching the surface of their abilities.
Now, they've come a long way in reaching their potential. While the Nittany Lions are
still in the process of becoming contenders in the Big Ten, they've played .500
ball in their last 26 games in part because of the efforts of the senior class.
that exemplify the improvements that the team has made the past two seasons are
second baseman Taylor Skerpon and right fielder Aaron Novak.
Cooper arrived in 2013, Skerpon was a talented shortstop that struggled with
consistency and Novak was merely part of a mix of outfielders competing for
playing time. Now, Skerpon is arguably the team's best defender at second while
Novak has been the club's top hitter, leading the team in average (.331) and on-base
percentage (.406) while ranking second in home runs (four) and RBIs (22).
Cooper has gotten me to consistently play the game the right way all the time,
whether it's sprinting on and off the field in between innings or always
running down the baseline hard," Skerpon said. "Just being a great guy. He's
fun to be around and play for."
of seniors, which also includes infielders Ryky Smith and J.J. White,
outfielder Ryan Richter, and pitchers Geoff Boylston, Ryan
Harper, and Patton Taylor, has also grown closer with their teammates these
past two years.
Novak said that although there used to be a bit of a disconnect between the older players and
the younger ones, that is no longer the case.
"As a team,
during [Cooper's] time here we became much closer," Novak said. "From the
freshmen to seniors, we're all amazing friends and we've developed much closer
relationships then we had in the past. There used to be this kind of divide
between the freshman and the seniors and these past two years it wasn't at all
like that so we're a much more cohesive team."
like having seven other brothers, and truly meaning brothers," Skerpon added.
"We know how each other act, what can tweak somebody a little bit just to mess
with them. But it's been amazing. I couldn't ask for better guys to have four
college seniors, Skerpon and Novak aren't trying to think too much about their careers winding down. While the inevitable will soon become reality, the pair is trying to take advantage of the time they have left.
"I try not
to dwell on it too much because you know it's coming up," Novak said. "I guess
it's got to end so you've got to deal with it somehow."
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The Penn State men's lacrosse team battled Johns
Hopkins until time ran out in the first round matchup of the Big Ten
Tournament. Despite the strong effort, and outstanding performance by several
Nittany Lions, the No. 4 seed Penn State fell 14-9 to the No. 1 seed Johns
After putting is a valiant effort, the Nittany Lions (5-9, 2-3 Big Ten) found
themselves on the defense early and weren't able to hold off Johns Hopkins' quick
start. Penn State let up five goals in the first quarter, and Johns Hopkins
(8-6, 4-1 Big Ten) was able to hold Penn State to just 14 shots in the first
half. Head coach Jeff Tambroni knew that to come back and be competitive he had
to bring his team in and calm their nerves.
"I said relax, just relax," said Tambroni. "I felt like defensively we
tried to do some things that didn't seem to work. Offensively, we were just
rushing everything and giving the ball right back to their offense. We were
exhausted within the first ten minutes of that game. I think we were just
really worn down."
Once the Nittany Lions defense was back on track, the offense took the
lead, netting in what seemed to be an endless stream of goals kick-started by
junior TJ Sanders. From then on it was a constant game of cat and mouse, with
Johns Hopkins and Penn State trading leads and ties throughout the second half.
The two opponents would tie each other twice during the game, and were never
separated by more than two goals during the third quarter.
"I thought when we had our hand free and had room and space to shoot the
ball we did a really nice job with it," said Tambroni. "When we didn't the
result was evident, we turned the ball over on four possessions in the second
half and that proved to probably be a little more than we can handle."
Connor Darcey had an outstanding game in net, saving 11 shots in the
first half. Darcey's 11 saves helped him achieved a feat that hasn't happened
since Penn State's March 23, 2013 game against Bucknell. His total saves for
the night would come to 17, a large number by any comparison.
Although the season ended sooner than they would have liked, the Nittany
Lions have much to be proud of from their 2015 campaign. Being a part of the
inaugural Big Ten conference for lacrosse makes this season that much more
special. Having secured one of only four spots in the Big Ten Tournament, Penn
State further proved their ability to contend against the elite programs in the
"It was a honor to be involved in the Big Ten," said Tambroni. "It was a
lot of fun for all of us to be involved in the first ever Big Ten Tournament.
It is such a first class conference from start to finish. From the way that
they promote and market, run games, run the tournament. It has been an honor
and I think our guys sensed the difference from where we were to where we are
For the 2015 senior class, this season was the opportunity to steer Penn
State men's lacrosse in a new direction, with them at the helm. The nine
seniors set the standard for work ethic and sportsmanship that will be in place
for years to come in Happy Valley.
"We said to these guys during their senior day, they are the link," said
Tambroni. "They are the link to the past and the future."
Penn State men's lacrosse has a bright and promising future ahead thanks to
their senior class.
"This was really the last group between the old coaching staff and the
new coaching staff and I think they've done a pretty good job of holding on to
what we believe is a honorable past, but also leading this group to a new
culture and a future to what we think is going to be really bright," said
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Penn State women's lacrosse team arrived
in New Jersey yesterday afternoon, it watched the final minutes of the
first-round game Northwestern would eventually win. With their opponent now
know, the Nittany Lions will aim to do what they did for the first time in
twelve years a second time this season. If Penn State wants to win the
first-ever Big Ten Tournament, it will need to defeat a strong Northwestern
team yet again. This team is more than ready for that challenge.
The last time these two teams met, Penn State (12-4, 4-1 B1G) opened with
determination. The team dominated the first half and was able to shut down the
Wildcats (12-5, 3-2 B1G) with solid defensive plays. Nevertheless, head coach
Missy Doherty has made sure her team knows this game will be different. There
is more on the line in a tournament situation. Every team will be bringing its
"I'm really emphasizing to the players that it's going to be a different game,"
Doherty said. "It's not going to be the same game. They're going to be coming
at us a lot harder. I think it's always hard to play a team that you just beat
because there's a little bit of this hidden drive in the team that just lost.
So, you really have to go in and match that drive. We have to be ready to not
just play like we played last game and win. We have to be ready to play a
different game with different energy and win a different way."
Even with a new mindset, it is clear that this Nittany Lion team is confident.
It finished the regular season playing the most competitive teams in the
country, especially during its final outing. Although the Blue and White fell
to Maryland during the final regular-season game, they showed they have the
ability to keep up with the best teams.
Throughout the entirety of the season, Penn State has been working toward that
goal of being known as one of the best. It has downed teams like Northwestern,
Stanford and Loyola Maryland. Furthermore, the Nittany Lions were just three
goals shy of handing the Terrapins their first loss of the season.
"I think it definitely helps us because they're the No. 1 team in the nation,"
said sophomore Steph Lazo of the Maryland game. "The fact that we only lost by
three and we put up a fight against them, it's really nice knowing we can hang
with big teams. We're a top-ten team too. I think it definitely boosts our
confidence a little bit knowing we can play to that ability and we can hang
with the best team."
A major factor this season, which will continue to determine games in the
post-season, is the draw. Possession is key, and the Nittany Lions know they
will need to find ways to get the ball throughout the entirety of the game
During its last match with the Wildcats, Penn State was edged out in draw
controls, 16-10. The Nittany Lions know that cannot happen again if they want
to move on to the tournament final. It is understood by the entire team that it
will need to find ways to win possession.
"Just taking the draw I know that it's a really big factor because you can't
really do anything if you don't have the ball," said junior Jenna Mosketti.
"So, that's something that we've been working on in practice, and I think it'll
Mosketti is the team's draw control leader, with 54 on the season. However, winning
the ball will not only be up to her in this second-round game. It will need to
be a team effort in order to have success.
"It comes from both ends, the defensive line all the way to the attack line,"
said Lazo. "It's not just Jenna [Mosketti] trying to get the ball. It's not
just Tatum [Coffey] taking it as well. It comes from everyone. You just have to
be hungry for it, and you just have to want it and get it."
As the Nittany Lions prepare for their evening matchup with the Wildcats, they
know and understand what they need to do to have success. Each member of the
team wants to leave its mark. History will be made this weekend, and Penn State
wants nothing more that to come out on top.
"We've proved who we are, and I think that was a goal from the beginning of the
season, to prove who we are in the Big Ten and in the country," said senior
Tatum Coffey. "So, I think coming into this tournament we're not looking back.
We're going into these games not thinking about our past games. We're going
into it fresh and new. A fresh start."
No. 1 Maryland (5-0 B1G)
Points Leader: Taylor Cummings, 81 points Leading Goal Scorer: Megan Whittle, 56 goals Assists Leader: Taylor Cummings, 28 assists
Heading into the tournament, Maryland remains undefeated and the top team in
the county. The Terrapins final regular season game came against the Nittany
Lions last week, which was a battle to the very end. Junior Taylor Cummings and
freshman Megan Whittle lead the team, both of whom also earned All-Big Ten team
honors this week. With the No. 1 seed in the tournament, Maryland earned a
first-round bye and is schedule to take on Ohio State in the second round.
Like Maryland, the second-seed Nittany Lions earned a bye in the first round of
the tournament. Although the team is coming off a loss to Maryland, Penn State
has the utmost confidence in its abilities. With Northwestern's win over
Michigan, the Nittany Lions will take on the Wildcats in a rematch of the game
played earlier this season. The Blue and White will rely heavily on senior
Maggie McCormick and sophomore Steph Lazo for scoring as they attempt to move
on to the tournament final.
Fresh off its first-round win over Michigan, the Wildcats will be ready to take
on Penn State. Even without a bye this team is bound to come out strong,
especially because of the opponent. Northwestern fell to the Nittany Lions for
the first time since 2003 and are hungry for the tournament upset. Freshman
Selena Lasota and junior Kaleigh Craig, who has 34 goals and 40 points on the
season, lead the Wildcats' offense.
Just like Northwestern, the Buckeyes will be coming into the second round
fresh off it first win of the tournament. Ohio State downed Rutgers, 17-7, and
will now look to go up against the best team in the country. Playing against
Maryland, the Buckeyes will need to rely on their offensive producers, Jackie
Cifarelli and Katie Chase, for points. When the two teams met earlier this
season, Ohio State fell to Maryland, 13-8.
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It only takes one swing to break out of a slump,
something that Ryky Smith can attest to after Wednesday night.
The senior infielder went into a midweek contest against Pittsburgh on
the bench after going hitless in his prior 24 at-bats. With the game on the
line in the bottom of the ninth however, it was his bat that the Nittany Lions
Smith came to the plate with the score tied 7-7 and runners on the
corners with one out. The situation called
for a hit-and-run, and Smith executed it perfectly, slapping a grounder that
shortstop Ron Sherman wasn't able to make a play on before Jim Haley crossed
the plate with the winning run.
Apart from giving Penn State a thrilling 8-7 win, the play also went a
long way in getting Smith his confidence back.
"I hadn't had a hit in a while, that's for sure," Smith said. "The thing
going through my mind was, it's about time you get it done.
"[Head Coach Rob] Cooper put on a hit-and-run, all I have to right there
is hit a ground ball and we win the game. So I made it a point to hit that ball
on the ground no mater what."
In the clubhouse afterwards, Smith barely had a chance to finish his
statement when Haley snuck up from behind and rubbed a celebratory shaving
cream pie in his face. As his teammates looked on and laughed, the 5-foot-10
infielder couldn't help but smile.
"Anyway, now that that's over, jeez," Smith said as he wiped his face.
"As soon as I hit the ball I knew they weren't turning a double play and the
game was probably over."
While it's far from the hardest ball that the York, Pennsylvania,
native, has ever hit, it may wind up as his most memorable. It came at a good
time too, with his senior season winding down.
Easily one of Penn State's scrappiest players, Smith started the year on
fire, hitting over .300 for most of the first two months of the season. Despite
his recent slump, he's remained a versatile defender capable playing second and
third base, and Cooper was pleased to see him get a moment in the spotlight.
"He's a good college player, but he's one of those guys you wish was
loaded with talent because he would make the most of it," Cooper said. "He
wouldn't be a guy who wouldn't work at it or take it serious, because that's
not the way he plays, so it was good to see him do that."
Going into the ninth with a 7-5 lead, the Lions didn't appear to need
their half of the inning to win. The Panthers battled back however, scoring two
runs on three hits to set up the dramatic finish.
Before Smith delivered his game-winning infield hit, Haley and
center fielder Ryan Richter started the inning with singles of their own. In a
game in which Penn State registered 15 hits, all but one were singles.
Oh, but what a hit that one non-single was. In the bottom of the eighth
with the Lions clinging to a 6-5 lead, left fielder Greg Guers ripped his sixth
home run of the season on a solo shot that gave the Lions an important
"Our guys made adjustments from at-bat to at-bat and pitch to pitch and
the best example is Guers' home run," Cooper said. "He laid off a breaking ball
down in the dirt and when he didn't swing at that, the pitcher for them
realizes, 'He's not going to chase that, what am I going to do here.' Usually
you have an approach like that, you get a lot of hits."
The win gave Penn State a 2-0 record against Pittsburgh this season,
following a 6-1 win in 12 innings on March 17. While the Lions don't mind extra
innings, they're glad they won this one in a timely fashion.
"When Penn State plays Pitt, people are going to want to beat each
other," Cooper said. "Last time it was 40 degrees colder than it was tonight,
but I've always said I'll play as many innings as it takes as long as we win."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Compete in everything you do. It's one of the
football program's four core values, and it's the mantra head coach James
Franklin lives by.
He took that competitive energy onto the mound at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday
night prior to the Yankees-Tampa Bay Rays game and delivered a strike during a
ceremonial first pitch as part of a celebration of the team's Pinstripe Bowl
Upon arrival in the Bronx, Franklin and a small group of staff members toured
the stadium and some of the organization's most prized artifacts, including
holding a 45-ounce bat used by Babe Ruth in 1927. The leader of the Nittany
Lions presented Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who is a college football fanatic,
with a signed Penn State helmet on the field during batting practice.
The group watched the Yankees take batting practice from behind home plate
while mingling with members from the Pinstripe Bowl and Yankees organization.
From there, Franklin shifted into prep mode for the opening pitch. He used just
four practice tosses into the batting cage nets in the Yankees clubhouse before
walking onto the mound to a rousing cheer.
"I have tremendous training for this. I played highly competitive Little
League baseball about 30 years ago," Franklin joked before the pitch.
As promised, Franklin worked from a wind up and tossed the ceremonial pitch
with some heat on the corner of the plate before a "We Are" chant rang through
the area behind home plate as the mit popped.
"I had an awesome experience," Franklin said. "They've been great to us since
we arrived in town, and really the whole bowl experience carried over. I went
out on the mound, let it fly and had some fun...It felt good. I tried not to
think about it a lot and just let it fly. It went somewhere near the plate and
had a little bit of velocity on it."
Much like the bowl week in New York, the Pinstripe Bowl and Yankees staff
members were tremendous hosts and first class for the Nittany Lions on Tuesday.
Fans heading to Yankee Stadium will find a mural documenting Penn State's
thrilling 31-30 win over Boston College in the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl.
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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's lacrosse team has fought for
every win so far this season, and on Thursday the team will battle for one
more, this time in the first round of the inaugural Big Ten Tournament.
With history waiting to be written, the No. 4-seeded Nittany Lions (5-8, 2-3
Big Ten) are prepared to face a familiar foe, the No. 1 seed Johns Hopkins (7-6,
4-1 Big Ten).
The Lions and Blue Jays saw one another just less than three weeks prior
they took to double overtime in one of the most thrilling games of the regular
season. Although the outcome of that game didn't land in the Penn State's
favor, this time around the Lions hope to change that; playoffs are a whole new
Head coach Jeff Tambroni knows the significance of what his team has
accomplished so far this season. Tambroni noted that just being in the
tournament is an accomplishment in itself, since only four of the six Big Ten
teams qualified; Michigan and Rutgers missed the cut.
"I think it's significant because of the fact that it's the inaugural Big
Ten Tournament," said Tambroni. "I feel really good for our guys. I just think
it's a wonderful group of young men who have worked very hard, we just have not
always gotten the results that we would hoped for throughout the course of the
regular season, but winning the last two games - must-win games - I think feels
real good for our guys. I'm sure there's a sense of relief, but also a sense of
pride, knowing that they're going to be representing Penn State in the
The pride the Nittany Lions have going in to the tournament stems from two
strong wins to end the regular season, a home win against Rutgers and a win in
Ann Arbor against Michigan. Penn State also has a sense of familiarity going in
to their matchup against Johns Hopkins, after an 11-10 decision decided the
first meeting in double overtime.
"I think it certainly provides our guys with the link of understanding that
we can play with Johns Hopkins," said Tambroni. "Both teams were at a different
place, I think both teams were coming off a loss, so I think the mindset of
both teams coming in there was probably a little bit questionable. It's going
to be a completely different game when the whistle blows [on Thursday] and you
got to go back to square one."
Penn State will turn to its key players to contend with Johns Hopkins.
Attack men like TJ Sanders will now more than ever need to find the back of the
net, and continue to be aggressive in the offensive zone. Goalie Connor Darcey
will need to find his groove early and settle in in net to stave off his
opponents. And the defense must build off of its strong start against Michigan
and continue holding off their opponents early on in the game.
"I think if we want or expect to win then our best players are going to
have to show up and make plays, I think that's just fact of the matter," said
Tambroni. "Both teams really want to win; I think it's going to come down to
willingness of certain guys to make plays at certain times."
Although there are four teams in the tournament, Coach Tambroni emphasized
that it's not about being better than all three of the other teams; it comes
down to beating one team at a time.
"We don't have to play three teams; we have to play one team on Thursday,"
said Tambroni. "The reality of it is we don't have to be better than all three
teams; we have to be better than one team on Thursday and one team on Saturday.
I think if we don't bite off more than we can chew, we can put ourselves in a
position to win."
Coach Tambroni has put great importance during the past month on his
players getting back to the simplistic way of playing lacrosse. This strategy
has proven successful, giving the Nittany Lions necessary wins to qualify for
the Big Ten Tournament.
"You can tend to over prepare, so hopefully we just give these guys
confidence in themselves," said Tambroni. "I think if we put in too much stuff
they'll start to question if they can do it. [Back to the basics] will be the
same philosophy going in to this one."
The Nittany Lions have proven they're fully deserving of their bid to the
Big Ten Tournament. Now it is just up to Penn State to bring the competition
with them to College Park.
"Hopefully [the team] will have stepped back and reflected for just an
instant on the opportunity for us and take advantage of the opportunity that
they have earned," said Tambroni.
No. 1 Johns Hopkins (7-6, 4-1 Big Ten) Points Leader: Ryan Brown 60 points Leading Goal Scorer: Ryan Brown, 51 goals Assists Leader: Wells Stanwick, 31 assists
The Blue Jays, coming off an upset against Maryland, are on a hot streak
entering the Big Ten Tournament. Johns Hopkins led in both shots (37) and
groundballs (34) against Maryland, and will look to bring momentum into the
game against Penn State in the first round of the tournament. Junior Ryan Brown
looks to continue his standout season, already becoming the first Big Ten
player since 1995 to surpass 50 goals in a season. Brown was also named the
2015 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Freshman Joel Tinney was named the
2015 Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
No. 2 Maryland (12-2, 4-1 Big Ten) Points Leader: Matt Rambo, 40 points Leading Goal Scorer: Matt Rambo, 28 goals Assists Leader: Bryan Cole, 12 assists
Although they didn't win the outright Big Ten regular season title due to
their loss to Johns Hopkins last Saturday, the Terrapins will be looking to
bounce back against Ohio State during the first round of the Big Ten
tournament. Casey Ikeda was named the 2015 Big Ten Defensive Player of the
Year, helping the Terrapins keep opponents to just 6.43 goals per game.
Maryland will face Ohio State on Thursday at 8 p.m.
No. 3 Ohio State (10-5, 3-2 Big Ten) Points Leader: Jesse King, 58 points Leading Goal Scorer: Jesse King, 35 goals Assists Leader: Jesse King, 23 assists
The Buckeyes will enter the Big Ten Tournament coming off a 17-10 loss at
Rutgers. Despite the late April loss, Ohio State finished 10-5 overall, including
wins against Penn State, Johns Hopkins and Michigan. Jesse King earned All-Big
Ten Team honors, as well as Carter Brown. Tom Carey and Robby Haus were Big Ten
Honorable Mentions. The Buckeyes face Maryland on Thursday at 8 p.m.
No. 4 Penn State (5-8, 2-3 Big Ten) Points Leader: TJ Sanders, 39 points Leading Goal Scorer: TJ Sanders, 27 goals Assists Leader: TJ Sanders, 12 assists, Nick Aponte 12 assists
The Nittany Lions have been gaining momentum following two consecutive wins
against Rutgers and Michigan to finish off the regular season. After their win
against Rutgers, Mike Sutton was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week,
and goaltender Connor Darcey took home Defensive Player of the Week honors. TJ
Sanders has been Penn State's most standout player of the year, netting 27
goals to end the regular season. Sanders leads the team in points and goals,
and is also tied with sophomore Nick Aponte for assists. On April 28th,
TJ Sanders and Mike Sutton were awarded Big Ten honorable mentions. The Nittany
Lions will take the field against Johns Hopkins on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
What's in a
name? The age-old question makes an attempt to understand what someone's name
means and how it defines them.
Honors College student Maya Evanitsky is taking a unique approach to answering
that question. Evanitsky, Dr. George Perry and a team of undergraduate students
will research and compare the "original" Nittany Lion's DNA sequence in
comparison to other ancient and current lion populations in the United States.
"original" Nittany Lion that inspired the beloved Penn State icon is a brush
lion that was killed in 1856 by farmer Samuel E. Brush. Now extinct, the brush
[Nittany] represents more than just Penn State's mascot; it is a small piece of
Central Pennsylvania's history.
Sequencing the Nittany Lion Genome
and Dr. Perry opened the "original" Nittany Lion's showcase for the first time
on April 13, 2015 to begin the first phase of her research, carefully removing
a DNA sample from the lion's leg.
hoping to get DNA from that," said Evanitsky. "The ultimate goal is to sequence
the DNA and compare that to DNA sequences in genes of populations of current
mountain lions. We're hoping to compare how diverse the species has become and
how much they've differentiated over time."
The "Original" Nittany Lion's Preservation
the word "hoping" because this lion has gone through two restorations since its
original stuffing of tow. The first restoration took place in 1934 followed by
the next in 1992, where various substitutions had to be made to preserve the natural
look of the lion using resources like deer fur and polyethylene.
nearly 40 years in the basement of the Carnegie Museum, the lion was displayed
in various locations including the St. Louis World's Fair, Chicago World's Fair
and the William Penn Museum prior to permanently moving to Happy Valley.
substitutions make it difficult to remove an authentic sample, but Evanitsky is
confident that hers is authentic.
Ancient DNA laboratory at University Park, the junior biochemistry and
molecular biology major and her team will compare the DNA from her sample with
various other ancient lion samples including mountain lions that currently alive
in the western US and Florida.
samples and local displays in the region are located at the Lycoming County
Historical Society and Taber Museum as well as the Ecology Lab in Science Hall
at Albright College.
development in ancient DNA methods has made 2015 the right year for this research
technology and ancient DNA methods have improved so much that our chance of
success is a lot higher than it would have been in the past," explained Dr.
Perry. "There are important things that we can learn from studying things that
How You Can Help
Lion and Mount Nittany are just two of many symbols of Penn State that are near
and dear to every Penn Stater's heart. Evanitsky, Dr. Perry, and their team look
to find out what could have happened to the beloved Nittany Lion.
important science project but there's also the conservation outreach
opportunity, the engagement with the community, sports fans of the university
as well as alumni, and undergraduates are involved in the research," explained
plans to have all of her samples sequenced by fall 2015 in which she will spend
the semester writing her thesis on her findings.
more on the project or to donate, click here.
No. 8 team in the country visiting Medlar Field at Lubrano Park this weekend
and after a 10-1 setback in the series' first game, Penn State battled and
nearly came up with an upset victory over the team with the conference's best
coach Rob Cooper hasn't backed away from the fact that he wants his team to win
games, he knows that Saturday's 15-inning 4-2 loss and Sunday's 6-3 loss are
games with a few takeaway points to build on moving forward.
our guys competed and battled," Cooper said. "When you're trying to build a
program you look for things like that. Illinois is a team that's probably going
to host a regional and be a national seed."
Penn State took a 1-0 lead into the eighth inning after seven shutout innings
from freshman Taylor Lehman. With the Nittany Lions just six outs away from the
result, the Illini bats came alive to take a 2-1 lead. Then, just as the upset
seemed out of reach, Penn State came right back and tied the game in the ninth
on a Taylor Skerpon RBI double.
six extra innings, the Illini broke through to take the lead in the top of the
final inning to get the win. Cooper noted how his team battled in the series'
final two-games are what he wants to see.
"For us to
have a chance to win Saturday and be in that game all day today like we did it
shows that our guys won't quit and we're building toward the right things," he
toward the right things, freshmen are going to be a big part of that. While the
Nittany Lions have a strong group of upperclassmen, younger players are now
working into becoming key parts of the Penn State lineup.
freshman catcher Nick Graham, caught the eye of his upperclassmen teammates
after going 3-for-6 with two runs scored between the final two games of the
great," redshirt junior Greg Guers said. "Their pitching staff is pretty good
and he battled all day and had two doubles and did a great job behind the plate
too. It was great seeing him have success against one of the top pitching
a freshman too and he's came a long way since the beginning of the year and has
been putting some great at bats together," senior Aaron Novak said.
agreed that the play of Graham and a few other freshmen namely those in the
pitching staff or bullpen has been promising, but the team as a whole still has
a few areas they need to clean up.
which is limiting free bases for opponents.
"We have to
clean up some things as far as playing the games," Cooper said. "We walked or
hit nine guys and even though none of them scored, after the seventh inning we
had thrown 142 pitches and they had thrown 97. You're working almost twice as
hard just to stay in the game."
even though the team was hitting the ball hard Saturday and Sunday, Cooper
still knows his team has the ability to come up with runs with runners on.
"We have to
find a way to break through with runners in scoring position," Cooper said. "We
hit the ball on the nose but had nothing to show for it. With bases loaded
Jimmy Haley hit the ball on the screws, but we have to find a way to push one
of those through."
three Big Ten series remaining, Cooper said his team could have given up on the
season, but it's clear they have not. Novak noted there was never a point in
the weekend where he and his teammates thought they were not in the game, even
against a stout Illini club.
just trying to keep our heads up," Novak said. "We are just trying to finish as
strong as possible and we are confident in our abilities that hasn't changed so
we are going to play until the end."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.--This weekend was full of plenty of
action at Beard field as the Penn State softball team dominated Rutgers
for the first Big Ten three-game sweep of the season
To open up the weekend, the Nittany Lions
secured a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth with junior Shannon Good's first
career home run. Good was one of five Penn Staters to make a presence at bat
during the first game of the series.
"I think this series was good for the
team, Rutgers is highly respected team and when playing a team like them we
have to always show we're willing to fight for the win,"said head coach Amanda Lehotak.
The team honored three seniors before the
start of Saturday's game, Meghan Bradley, Marissa Diescher and Alicia Walker.
Jessica Cummings, who was the team's star
pitcher Friday night, continued to throw a great game on Saturday. She pitched
the first five innings, then teammate Macy Jones close the game on the mound.Despite the Scarlet Knights getting on
the board in the first inning, the Lions brought their batting game and ended
the game with a 12-6 victory.
Freshman Alyssa VanDerveer lead the
charge offensively with her 13th home run of the season and drove in three
additional runs to help the Nittany Lions take the win.
"Rally innings are a huge part of our
game, every time I get a hit I know I'm helping my team win,"said VanDerveer.
Coming off of another victory over the
Scarlet Knights, the Blue and White entered the third and final game hungry for
Rutgers got on the board early and
finished the first inning with two runs and four hits. After four innings, both
teams remained scoreless until the Scarlet Knights widened the lead with a
single home run by Sierra Maddox in the top of the sixth.Despite being three behind Rutgers,
PSU entered the bottom of the seventh inning determined to fight.
At the top of the batting lineup, Jones
singled and VanDerveer walked, however due to an illegal pitch both Jones and
pinch runner Maegan Tupinio advanced to second and third. Pond stepped up to
the plate and homered to right field, making the game tied 3-3 and giving the
Lions back life in the game. Pitcher Marlaina Laubach prevented the
Scarlet Knights from scoring in the eighth and ninth inning as the rest of
defense made sure to stop any ball that came its'way.
Going into extra innings, Penn State and
Rutgers remained tied until Knief singled to centerfield to send Walker home to
finish the game and complete the sweep.
"Although we were behind, we never gave
up. We pride ourselves on being a team that fights until the end and that's
what gave us the win today,"said
The Nittany Lions are 27-24 overall and
are 9-11 in Big Ten play. This weekend also marks the team's 11th home victory
of the season, the most since 2012.
"This series gave us some confidence I
think we needed as we prepare for Pitt and Michigan,"said coach Lehotak.
Although the Blue and White are done with
home games this season, the team willtravelto Pittsburgh on Tuesday for a mid-week
matchup. This will be the second time Lehotak and the team will face the
Panthers this season. The first pitch is to be thrown at 6 p.m. After
Pitt, the team will take on the last regular season series against No. 4
Michigan in Ann Arbor for a three-game weekend. The first of the series is set
to begin at 6 p.m. Friday night.