By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State has dominated the EIVA conference for the last 17 years, winning titles in each of those seasons.
The Nittany Lions have a chance to make that 18 straight this coming weekend, depending on how things shake out, Penn State could sit atop the EIVA on Friday or Saturday. If NJIT wins its matchup against George Mason on Thursday and Penn State beats Harvard Saturday, the Nittany Lions claim the regular season crown. If Mason wins, Penn State would need a weekend sweep over Harvard and Sacred Heart to claim the title.
There are many scenarios, but the scenario right now for Penn State is simple, keep winning and stay consistent. The Nittany Lions have gotten back to the level of play they were exhibiting during their 11-game win streak early on in the season. For Penn State, though, its fate may somewhat lie in the hands of other people, the focus remains on what they can do.
"We may watch a little of the game on Thursday," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "I'm sure we will be paying attention to the game in some capacity, we definitely won't ignore it but we have to win Friday regardless."
Last week, Pavlik was quoted saying that the NJIT match that weekend was Penn State's biggest of the season. Now, it very well may be that this Harvard matchup on Friday is the biggest match. If the Nittany Lion's can't clinch Friday, the importance shifts to the match Saturday against Sacred Heart.
"Sacred Heart caught us by surprise the first time," said Pavlik. "I think we took them a little lightly and they took it to us early on in that match. They are one of the more physical teams in the EIVA and they certainly can play so we can't take them lightly to begin with this time."
Penn State is fresh off a loss to Ohio State, but Pavlik made it clear to the team that the EIVA matches remaining are the ones that are critically important for the Nittany Lions.
"We want to win every match," Jalen Penrose said. "Still, Coach has said that the EIVA is what matters and we are focused on this weekend."
Penn State not only faces a few tough conference opponents this coming weekend, they also face an adversary in fatigue. Penn State is currently in a stretch that consists of five matches in nine days and if you look even further back, 10 matches in 21 days. It is uncommon for a team to face games this closely together meaning rest and relaxation and even more important for Penn State in the coming days.
"We are definitely putting a big emphasis on it," Pavlik said. "Especially in the end of the season it is even more important. I've said we are playing the equivalent of an NHL playoff schedule in these past weeks so we have to be mentally and physically prepared for matches."
Aidan Albrecht shares the sentiments of his coach, saying that the players certainly know how important it is to be healthy and fresh during the season.
"We've taken a lot of swings so at this point in the season the rest is even more important for us as a team so we can be ready for our matches," said Albrecht.
Penn State will take on Harvard and Sacred Heart this upcoming weekend. First serve against Harvard is set for 7 p.m. on Friday and Sacred Heart and Penn State will square off at 7 p.m. Saturday.
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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
By: Shannon Rostick, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- This upcoming weekend is a big one for the Penn State women's lacrosse team. Not only because they will be playing one of their biggest competitors, Ohio State, but also because it marks the team's first televised game of the season on the Big Ten Network.
This is a huge deal for the team because it allows more fans to watch them in action and more importantly, it allows prospective players to check out what the Nittany Lions have to offer.
Sophomore midfielder Katie O'Donnell talked about her experience before coming to Penn State, and how watching games on television had a role in her decision to commit to the Nittany Lions.
"I followed Penn State before and after I committed. I made an effort to watch them play and it was cool to watch and think that you'd love to be a part of that team," said O'Donnell.
These televised games give prospective recruits more opportunities to see how the team plays together, which is especially helpful for recruits who are not close by.
When thinking about committing it is important for these players to see the team playing in a game setting as many times as possible, and for those high school players who live further away from University Park, that is not always feasible.
Penn State has many players who came from farther states, like seniors Emi Smith and Heather Harman who are from Colorado and Georgia respectively.
"TV coverage helps for the game in general and it helps with recruits too, especially with recruiting from farther and farther away," said O'Donnell.
The coaches and players alike are excited to see more and more televised games during the season, as it raises awareness for Penn State's team and the sport in general.
Lacrosse is growing in popularity season by season, especially with Penn State moving up in the ranks in the Big Ten. Penn State wants the best players in the country on their team, and the publicity helps to get their name out there to players across the country.
O'Donnell's first televised game experience was last season as a freshman. She talked about how, although it is exciting at first to be on TV, the players do not see too much of a difference during televised games and that it thankfully does not have an impact on gameplay.
"You don't really think about it during the game; the game doesn't change too much, minus a few extra timeouts for TV," said O'Donnell.
"The first time as a freshman last year it was definitely like 'oh my gosh, I'm going to be on TV,' but after that first game it all becomes just the same."
The players do a good job of forgetting about the TV side of things, which is good because they can't afford to lose focus, especially during their Big Ten games and leading up to the postseason.
Last year marked the first Big Ten tournament for women's lacrosse, and for players like O'Donnell it was an incredible experience to make a tournament run in her first year with the team.
"It was a great experience coming in as a freshman and getting into the postseason play. It was new and exciting and it was fun to have that kind of win, especially with that group of girls," said O'Donnell
"It was the first Big Ten tournament in women's lacrosse and for Penn State to get that win was a really awesome experience," she added.
O'Donnell said the team is even more motivated to get to the tournament again after knowing what they can achieve as a unit.
"When you accomplish something like that you only want to keep getting better and it's definitely a goal to get back to the postseason by improving every game," said O'Donnell.
"It's not something spoken, but it's something we are always working for."
With a 9-2 record so far in their season, Penn State is fighting hard to get back into postseason play and repeat as Big Ten tournament champions.
The No. 9 Nittany Lions will continue their season on Saturday, April 9 against the No. 12 Buckeyes at Ohio State starting at 4 p.m.
Spring Practice Central
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin updated the media following Penn State's 10th of 15 spring practices on Wednesday evening. A spring marked by good progress on both sides, the Nittany Lions will return to the field on Saturday to close out the week.
Hear from head coach James Franklin, running back Saquon Barkley and safety Marcus Allen following Wednesday's practice.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (16-12) defeated in-state rival Pittsburgh (13-12), 7-0, on Tuesday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park to stretch its current winning streak to seven games. The Nittany Lions have won 10 straight in State College.
Nick Riotto continued his hot play at the dish with a three hit night to extend his hitting streak to five games. During that streak Riotto has tallied 10 hits, five RBIs, and four runs scored.
The junior's batting average has elevated to .299, giving him the second highest mark on the team behind Jim Haley. Riotto now has 29 hits on the year, which is also second on the team to only Haley's 37.
"Every at-bat he competes," said head coach Rob Cooper. "He's always working and always trying to get better. It's a guy that you can count on that you know you're going to get his best effort every time up at the plate and that's important."
The danger Pittsburgh presents is its high scoring offense, but a trio of Penn State hurlers shut down the Panthers' bats convincingly.
Pitt is ranked fourth in the country in homeruns per game (1.33) and has smashed 32 total this season. The Panthers had scored 37 runs in their last four games combined and averaged 7.5 runs per game in 2016.
Starter Nick Hedge silenced a powerful lineup to just two hits in six innings of work. During one stretch he retired 10 straight batters before an error allowed Frank Maldonado to reach base in the fifth inning.
"He just went right after guys," said Cooper. "He was able to work both sides of the plate, and he was throwing his changeup and his breaking ball in there for strikes. His mound presence really dictated the whole thing."
"I kept to my same game, just keeping the ball low and trying to get a lot of ground balls and let the defense work behind me," Hedge said. "All three pitches were working, and I had a lot of trust in them."
Hedge picked up his third win of the season Tuesday night, lowering his ERA to 2.42 in the process, good for the second lowest among PSU starters. Dakota Forsyth added two innings in relief and Jared Fagnano closed out the game in the ninth. All three pitchers combined to allow just three hits and totaled nine strikeouts on the night.
Hedge got some early help from the offense courtesy of three first inning runs. Penn State's first three batters loaded the bases with three singles before Greg Guers drove in two runs with a double to right field.
A few pitches later Tyler Kendall skied a sacrifice fly to centerfield to add another tally. Kendall ended the night with a game-high three RBIs, pushing his total to 14 on the year.
"The thing that I love is that he's super aggressive," said Cooper. "Really the thing we've had to do with him is almost scale him back a little bit because he wants to win so bad. He wants to make something happen and he's got to know when to do it. Today was a good time to do it."
The Nittany Lions added four runs in the fifth inning on a Riotto RBI double for his third hit of the night and a Kendall single that scored two more. Kendall came in to score later in the inning on an error.
Penn State seeks to extend its win streak Wednesday against Lafayette at 3:30 p.m. The Nittany Lions will be back at Medlar Field on Friday to begin a three game series against conference foe Michigan State (19-5).
Spring Practice Central
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions practiced for the ninth time of the spring season on Monday. Throughout spring practice, GoPSUsports.com will break down each position on the depth chart. Today, we focus on the running backs.
The Running Backs
Players Returning-Newcomers/Lost: 5/3
Who's Back: Mark Allen (Jr./So.), Saquon Barkley (So./So.), Irvine Paye (Sr./Jr.), Andre Robinson (So./Fr.), Johnathan Thomas (Jr./So.)
On the heels of an electrifying freshman season, Saquon Barkley headlines a corps of young Penn State running backs for 2016. Coach Charles Huff's unit is marked by its youthful talent and has made a significant impact on the Nittany Lion offense this spring. The group is primed to be at the forefront of the attack when the season begins in September.
Barkley raised eyebrows of onlookers nearly every time he touched the ball during a stellar freshman campaign. The Coplay, Pa., product set Penn State's freshman season record with 1,076 rushing yards. Named a Freshman All-American, Barkley appeared in 11 games (missed two due to injury) and reached 100 yards five times. Barkley had 34 rushes of 10 or more yards and a Big Ten-high 16 carries of 20-plus yards.
The All-Big Ten honoree tallied 310 yards in back-to-back games against Buffalo and Rutgers, which marked the highest total by a true freshman in more than 30 seasons. Barkley became the first to rush for 100 yards in a quarter during two-straight games since Larry Johnson accomplished the feat in 2002. A powerful back with outstanding footwork, Barkley dazzled during winter conditioning where he topped the team in 40-yard dash timing (4.38), agility (4.00) and power clean max (390). Barkley was also one of just three Nittany Lions to squat 600 pounds.
One of 17 redshirt freshmen to see the field in 2015, Mark Allen emerged as an impact player for the Nittany Lions. Allen appeared in eight games and started one on offense and on special teams. He rushed for 110 yards, tallied 44 yards receiving and scored two touchdowns. Allen's strength is his quickness and play-making ability in the open field. The Maryland product set the second fastest time in the agility test this winter, and he is primed for a significant role on offense with continued progress.
After a very productive season on the scout team offense, redshirt freshman Andre Robinson is poised to join the running back rotation in 2016. The 5-9, 213-pound back provides the Nittany Lions with another weapon capable of big plays in the backfield.
Redshirt sophomore Johnathan Thomas appeared in three games as a redshirt freshman last fall. Like Robinson, Thomas will be another player capable of providing the Nittany Lion backfield with the tools to be an impact player. Thomas finished with 11 carries for 42 yards in 2015.
Redshirt junior Irvine Paye joined the team as a walk-on during spring practice.
Expectations amongst the running backs is very high. The unit holds itself to a very high standard. Despite being a very young corps of players, leadership comes from Mark Allen and Saquon Barkley. With a new-look offense and a year of game experience under its belt, look for the veterans in the running back room to take another significant step forward in 2016.
Quoting Coach Huff:
"I'm really excited about the expectation the group brings to the room every day. I'm very excited about our young guys, like Andre Robinson who is finally getting his chance after redshirting last year. The competition is fierce, but also friendly. Each one of them believes that they are capable of being the starting running back. But all of them understand that as a group, we all need to be the most productive and hard-working group. Mark Allen is kind of the leader by age. But Saquon (Barkley) and Andre do a good job of pushing him with the expectations of our program. They all kind of raise the bar together. Saquon knows he has a lot of expectations on him, but he's handled it really well. I'm really excited about where they have come from on the first day of winter to where they are now. I'm looking forward to a good year from all of them."
By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Frequently the person in charge of the behind the scenes work for an athletic team goes unnoticed.
It's a position that doesn't get much attention, but it's essential to any successful team. The director of operations position often flies under the radar until there's a hiccup of some sort.
In charge of making sure the i's are dotted and t's are crossed for the Nittany Lion track and field program is director of operations, Laura Loht.
"I gather all of the information we need to be successful on the road as far as being organized," said Loht.
You can find Loht doing a wide range of tasks depending on the day and season. She can be preparing travel arrangements for an upcoming away meet in her office, or pacing throughout the Multi-Sport Facility during a home indoor meet in order to ensure that all aspects of the meet are running smoothly.
During the outdoor season, she checks athletes in at the airport for road meets, while also making itineraries and shuttle schedules when planning for outdoor trips.
"Getting 60 to 70 people on the road is definitely a challenge," said Loht.
Loht, a former three-time All-American and current Penn State javelin school record holder, can't get enough of being around the track and field environment. She also doesn't want to walk away from her craft.
"I love javelin, I love throwing and just being around the sport," said Loht.
After graduation Loht knew she wanted to continue competing and thought remaining in Happy Valley would be best for her future. The people of Penn State and the passion they have mean a lot to Loht as she bleeds blue and white herself.
Shortly after graduation, Loht started working as the operations assistant within the program. She helped out the program in that position for six months until being hired full-time as the director of operations. Head coach John Gondak told Loht that the director of operations position is a "foot in the door" for a future coaching position.
"I want to get into coaching eventually," said the 2014 Penn State kinesiology graduate.
Alongside her operations duties, Loht is training for competition herself. Before getting into her office at the Multi-Sport Facility in the morning, she gets up early to complete her daily training sessions. Last weekend, Loht threw in the Florida Relays in Gainesville, Florida. Loht also competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials and looks to give it another shot in a few months. She looks forward to another opportunity.
"Every year something special has happened in my career," said Loht.
Loht chose to go to Penn State for its top-ranked kinesiology program and didn't want to exactly be the top javelin athlete on the team coming in.
"I was going to come in as the number two girl and that's what I wanted. I wanted to be competing with someone, not just come in and be the 'big dog'," said Loht.
During her athletic career at Penn State, Loht and current senior Lauren Kenney were elite javelin throwers for the Nittany Lions.
"In my opinion, we were the best duo in the nation for a while," said Loht.
The duo of Loht and Kenney matched up against each other in high school before competing together for Penn State. Loht attended Indian Valley High School which is a little over 45 minutes away from Happy Valley and Kenney went to nearby State College Area High School.
From her time in high school, through Penn State and post-graduation, Loht has continued to do great things on the track, and she is hoping to continue that excellence in this role.
For more on Nittany Lion track and field, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.
Spring Practice Central
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions practiced for the eighth time of the spring season on Saturday morning. Throughout spring practice, GoPSUsports.com will break down each position on the depth chart. Today, we focus on the linebackers.
Players Returning-Newcomers/Lost: 10/6
Who's Back: Brandon Bell (Sr./Sr.), Manny Bowen (So./So.), Jason Cabinda (Jr./Jr.), Jake Cooper (So./So.), Frank Di Leo (So./Fr.), Jan Johnson (So./Fr.), Brandon Smith (Sr./Jr.), Jason Vranic (Jr./Jr.), Von Walker (Sr./Sr.), Nyeem Wartman-White (Gr./Sr.)
When it comes to game experience, the top three linebackers on the Penn State defense make up one of the most veteran groups on the depth chart. Defensive coordinator and unit coach Brent Pry will again lead a group led by two seniors and a host young talent ready to take the next step in 2016.
The senior duo of Brandon Bell and Nyeem Wartman-White have a combined seven years of experience in the Penn State program and return as two the team's leaders heading into the fall. Bell played the best football of his Nittany Lion career in 2015, finishing with a career-high 65 tackles and ranked third on the team with 12.5 tackles for loss.
The New Jersey native started in 11 games (missed two due to injury) and finished No. 6 in the Big Ten with three forced fumbles. Bell is an athletic linebacker who makes a big impact in the open field. On the heels of a standout junior campaign, Bell is primed for a strong season when things kickoff in September.
Returning to the field after suffering a season-ending injury in the second quarter of the 2015 opener will be Wartman-White. A staple in the starting lineup prior to his injury at Temple, the Philadelphia native is eager to get back on the field as a leader of the defense.
Wartman-White made 75 stops as a junior in 2014 and has appeared in 27 career games at linebacker for the Nittany Lions. A tenacious competitor, the graduate heads into 2016 looking to pick up right where he left off at the end of training camp in 2015.
With Wartman-White out mid-way through the second quarter at Temple, Jason Cabinda was thrust into the spotlight. The junior became the voice of the defense as a young, inexperienced sophomore, but Cabinda took the opportunity in stride. He evolved into a tremendous vocal leader for the Lion defense and led the team with 100 tackles.
Cabinda took a significant step forward in the offseason and is eager to continue evolving as on of the top defensive players on the roster. The New Jersey native tallied three 10-plus tackle efforts in 2015 during starts in every game. The honorable mention All-Big Ten representative also played in nine games as a true freshman.
Senior Von Walker will provide added depth and leadership to the Nittany Lion defense. A special teams ace, Walker has 35 games of experience under his belt and will provide a veteran voice in the defensive huddle. He tied for fifth on the team in special teams tackles and will play a big role in keeping the linebacker unit fresh in 2016.
Limited spring practice reps for Bell and Wartman-White opened the door for a pair of sophomores to acquire a great deal of first-team reps this spring. Jake Cooper and Manny Bowen each played as true freshmen in 2015. Now, the duo is positioned to take another step forward. Cooper appeared in 12 games and started for the first time at the TaxSlayer Bowl. One of four true freshmen to start a game, Cooper made 14 tackles and had 2.5 tackles for loss.
Bowen appeared in all 13 games as a true freshman. The New Jersey native led the team in special teams tackles with 13. An athletic linebacker with good instincts in space, Bowen, like Cooper, will play a significant role on the Nittany Lion defense for many years to come.
Junior Brandon Smith and redshirt freshman Jan Johnson return to the group, while junior college transfer Jason Vranic and walk-on Frank Di Leo join the group this spring and will add depth to the corps.
Experience will headline the Nittany Lion linebackers in 2016, but Coach Pry wants to create a deep unit. Expectations are always high at the linebacker position, and the Lions are eager to have three very experienced players at the forefront of the group in the fall.
Quoting Coach Pry:
"When you look at the three guys who are returning starters, you have a ton of experience. I think you'd be hard pressed to look around the country and find guys with the experience Nyeem (Wartman-White), Jason (Cabinda) and Brandon (Bell) have. We expect great leadership from them. And the expectations are high for those guys. Those three guys and the leadership they bring sets the tone for our group."
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio. - The No. 18 Penn State men's lacrosse team (7-3, 1-0 Big Ten) opened its Big Ten slate with a win over Ohio State (5-6, 0-1 Big Ten) on Sunday afternoon in Columbus. Sophomore goaltender Will Schreiner made a career-high 15 saves against the Buckeyes.
At the start of the game, momentum seemed to favor the Buckeyes as Ohio State commanded possession time, but the Nittany Lion offense made up for possession time with goals. The Nittany Lions scored twice in the first quarter and two more times in the second to lead to Buckeyes 4-1 at the half.
Adding momentum, junior midfielder Drake Kreinz returned for the Nittany Lions at the faceoff after missing the first half of the season due to injury. Kreinz had three ground balls in his season debut and went 4-for-11 at the "x," but his contributions to Penn State's win surpassed what statistics show.
"Each time we've gotten someone back it has been an emotional lift," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "I think it's going to take Drake a little while to get his legs under him and anyone who plays the position knows that it requires a great deal of repetition at the faceoff 'x,' but I think our coaching staff are thrilled to have someone as competitive as Drake back in the mix."
Tambroni credited junior midfielder Billy Lombardi for his efforts so far this season and how his accomplishments at the faceoff have not gone unnoticed. With Kreinz back for the Nittany Lions, the duo of Kreinz and Lombardi will be threatening at the faceoff 'x' moving forward.
In net, sophomore Will Schreiner surpassed his personal best when he made his 11th save of the game against the Buckeyes in the third quarter. Schreiner had a career-high 15 saves in total against Ohio State, six of those saves he made in the fourth quarter.
"The way that Will played the first three and a half quarters, I think we felt very comfortable as long as we were keeping the ball around the perimeter and the defensemen were keeping their sticks somewhere near the gloves of the shooters, that Will was going to have success," said Tambroni. "Will played phenomenal today, that was by far his best game as a member of the Penn State team."
Improving his play with every game has been an essential part of Schreiner's continued success this season.
Ohio State tied it at five a piece late in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough for the Buckeyes. Redshirt junior Matt Florence scored the final goal for the Lions, edging Penn State past Ohio State, 6-5. Florence now has 15 goals this season.
Starting off their Big Ten slate strong was important for the Nittany Lions, who are working on finding consistency on the field. Tambroni noted earlier in the week how every Big Ten team starts conference play with a clean slate, so starting off with a win would be essential.
"We're extremely excited to get the win, a road win let alone a Big Ten win, against a team as competitive as Ohio State," said Tambroni.
The Nittany Lions now look ahead to back-to-back home games in the next two weeks, against No. 5 Maryland and No. 9 Johns Hopkins. Having already upset then-No. 1 Denver, Penn State is eager to continue to battle for wins and put on display all the hard work that has been put in between games.
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - All seemed finalized when Purdue's Brett Carlson poked a two-run single up the middle to give the Boilers a 6-4 lead in the top of the 12th inning Saturday night.
Penn State (15-12) had been at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park since 8 a.m. that morning for a doubleheader, and the fatigue was setting in. Settling for two out of three in a tight weekend series didn't seem too bad after 21 innings in one day, but Alex Malinsky had other plans.
The junior didn't record an at-bat the entire weekend, but he made the most of his only opportunity.
With one out and two runners on base in the bottom of the 12th and Penn State down one run, Malinsky stepped up to pinch hit. In just his 15th plate appearance of the season, Malinsky roped a line drive to the left-centerfield gap that easily scored the tying and winning runs. Malinsky was promptly mobbed at second base by his teammates.
"I just saw something I could drive," said Malinsky. "I just saw a ball up, I'm not even sure what it was to be honest. I saw a ball and went hacking at it."
"Alex Malinsky, it couldn't happen to a better guy," head coach Rob Cooper said. "A guy who cares, loves Penn State, works his tail off. Part of the reason our guys went bonkers out on the field is because it was him that did it. That's how much they love and care about him."
This game may very well be the defining moment for this scrappy team with a never say die attitude.
"It's unbelievable," Greg Guers said. "Especially after a long day, we're in the bottom of the 12th inning after giving up two runs, and we could've easily just shut it down. I can't even describe how much resiliency that we have after today."
"It's something that we talk about and work on it. We talk about being resilient," said Cooper. "Even when we were down two-nothing early in the game our guys just put their heads down and went back to work. Our guys didn't flinch. I'm just proud of them, I really am."
Jack Anderson recorded the win in the extra innings thriller in 4.2 innings of relief. Anderson logged his 85th career appearance in the game, which is tied for the most ever in Penn State history.
Earlier in the series, Tyler Kendall played hero with an RBI triple in the eighth inning to lead PSU to a 3-1 victory on Friday. Kendall went 3-4 in the game and had six total hits in the series to increase his 2016 batting average to .297.
"I've been working on little stuff in my swing with coach Oeder and Coop," said Kendall. "I felt really good before the game today. I was happy that I could step up."
Jordan Bowersox also had three hits on the night, marking his first career three-hit game. Taylor Lehman produced one of his best starts of the year with 6.1 innings of work, only allowing one run and striking out four.
The second game of the weekend was much more comfortable for the Nittany Lions. PSU plated four runs in the third inning and never looked back, completing the win by a score of 7-2.
The middle of the lineup was dominant in the win, as batters two through five smacked eight of the Blue and White's 12 hits. Kendall, Guers, and Nick Riotto recorded multi-hit games and Christian Helsel also added two from the nine hole.
Sal Biasi was brilliant on the mound for PSU, notching his third win of the season in 7.2 innings while striking out seven. Dakota Forsyth relieved Biasi in the eighth inning and shut the door on the Boilermakers in his second straight appearance.
The sweep increased Penn State's winning streak to six games and improved its home record to 9-1 on the season.
"It's our home," Cooper said. "When you got a student group like Cooperstown, those guys are unbelievable. We talk about wanting to make Medlar a tough place to play, and so far we're upholding our end of it."
Penn State will return home on Tuesday for a non-conference matchup with in-state rival Pittsburgh. The Panthers sit at 13-10 and boast five regular starters with batting averages above .320.
ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There are seven seniors on the Penn State softball team, and in their time in the blue and white they have never made it to the postseason.
They, along with the rest of the team, are stating their case early as to why this may be their year.
The Nittany Lions swept their second straight Big Ten series when they beat Michigan State 8-6 on Saturday evening. It was Penn State's first back-to-back conference series sweep since 2011, when they beat Ohio State and Northwestern in two two-game series.
Leading the charge has been senior Macy Jones, who has been consistently making big plays on both sides of the ball. Against Michigan State, she went 7-for-10 with six RBIs, including two 2-run home runs in Saturday's contest.
"You never count on the long ball, that expectation can always be dangerous, but it came at the right times," said head coach Amanda Lehotak. "And Macy Jones just continues to be steady Eddie, she's been great all year."
Both of Jones' home runs put the Nittany Lions back in the game after they had been trailing, with the second one giving Penn State a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
On defense, Jones made a diving catch in left field in the third inning to prevent the Spartans from scoring. The ball was falling right in front of Jones, who waited it out and dropped to her stomach to make the catch at the last second.
The Lions are on a seven game win streak, their longest such streak since they won 16 in a row back in 2006. With six of those wins coming in conference play, Lehotak says the seniors have been key to that streak.
"They [the seniors] don't feel respected in the Big Ten, so I think them just saying 'okay, we're here to do it, we're going to do it and this is how we do it', to me the seniors have really been guiding the ship in these last six games," Lehotak said.
Penn State exploded for 38 hits against Michigan State, with 28 of those hits coming in the first two games. Lehotak and her assistant coach Joe Guthrie were worried that after such a hot night on Friday their team would suffer from an "offensive hangover" and not be able to follow up in game three.
They were pleased to see that not be the case, with Penn State tacking on ten more hits, including three home runs.
"They're level of focus has not wavered. They've been keeping it simple and they haven't got too big," Lehotak said. "Coming into today, Coach [Guthrie] and I were really worried. But really, they're just keeping it simple, they're celebrating what we've done but they're letting it go quickly. What they have done offensively is not easy to do so the fact that they can just keep the game simple, hopefully they can keep that rolling."
The team is looking to extend their win streak as they head to Columbus for a doubleheader on Wednesday against Ohio State.
Lehotak knows that her team believes in themselves and that that is what will carry them to more success in the future.
"They've really come together, and I think they really just made that cognitive choice that they were going to do it this year," Lehotak said. "They believe in one another and you can see in the dugout that they're really just playing for one another. They just believe that they can compete in the Big Ten and they don't want to be stopped."
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