Recently in All-Sports Blog Category

Snyder Continues Monster Year in Final Season

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Snyder-Steve (4).jpeg

By Mike Esse, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State baseball is 37 games into the season and outfielder Steve Snyder doesn't want to change anything about his final season in the blue and white. And why would he?

The Westchester, Pa. native is hitting .350 with an on-base percentage of .433. Along with those stats, his 49 hits and 13 steals all sit among the top 10 in the Big Ten.

Snyder said prior to the 2014 season he and the new Penn State coaches established an approach for him at the top of the Nittany Lion lineup and to date, it's safe to say it has worked. Now, as he and his Penn State team are chasing a Big Ten playoff berth, Snyder is working to stay on the hot streak he has been on all season long.

"It's was just establishing an approach, sticking to it and not trying to do too much at the plate," he said. "Sometimes when you are having success you try to do too much and I think right now I'm trying to just stick to what I've been doing."

Head coach Rob Cooper told Snyder before the season started the key for him to have a productive senior campaign at the dish was to simplify his at bats.

That simple tip has helped Snyder to his monster numbers with just four weeks remaining in the regular season.

"Sometimes you put too much pressure on yourself and I feel like with his [Cooper's] mindset he takes away the pressure and I'm just trying to do what I know I can do," Synder said.

As the leadoff hitter in the Penn State lineup, Snyder's approach and ability to get on base has carried over to his teammates who have moved him over exceptionally when leading off innings.

Snyder has reached base 13 times in his last eight games and fellow outfielder James Coates said that sets the tone for him and the rest of the Nittany Lion lineup.


"He's been a table setter all season for us," Coates said. "We have so much confidence in him when he's at bat hitting first every game. You have a lot of confidence that he is going to get on no matter what and if he doesn't he will pick us up in the field or in his next at bat.

We feel comfortable with him [Synder] leading off and starting the innings off."

Additionally, Snyder's overall approach to the game has been noticed by Coates and the younger Penn State players throughout the 2014 season, as Snyder has established himself as a leader of the Nittany Lions.

"The biggest thing for me with Steve is his entire approach to the game this season," Coates said. "He does a great job at taking it one bat at a time and since I hit behind him I learn a lot from him watching his at bats."

For Snyder, it's a satisfying fifth season wearing the blue and white - he lost the 2011 season due to injury - and he has become a leader both in the dugout and on the stat sheet.

"It's feels great," he said. "It's my last year so you always want to go out with a good year. It's a good feeling and I just want to help us to continue and have success."

However, at the end of the day, he doesn't pay much attention to the numbers, outside of the number of wins and losses.

"I'm old," Snyder said. "I don't really look at conference statistics or where I am ranking in the Big Ten that much. It's my last year so I just want to win. That's about it."

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

Positive Pitching Provides Lions with Winning Chances

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Jones_9955498.jpegBy Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While falling to Ohio State in both games of Wednesday night's doubleheader was not the desired outcome for the Nittany Lions, the team continues to excel and improve in one specific and very important area: pitching.

Penn State (14-28, 5-12 B1G) dropped the first game of the series against the Buckeyes (22-23, 8-9 B1G) by a final score of 3-1 and finished the night with a 3-0 loss in game two.

"I think both pitchers pitched good enough to win," said head coach Amanda Lehotak following the performances of freshman Marlaina Laubach and sophomore Macy Jones.  "Marlaina again was very aggressive and attacked, and I thought Macy was the same way.  She attacked the whole time and went right after the hitters.  I was very happy with our pitching today."

Laubach made her appearance in game one, pitching a complete game.  Throughout the entirety of her time in the circle, the right-hander threw a total of 88 pitches and allowed only three runs on seven hits.

Just as Laubach, Jones also went the distance in game two against Ohio State.  The Virginia native threw 51 strikes during the game, accumulating three strikeouts and allowing only three runs.

"I think me and Marlaina did a really good job," Jones said.  "We did give up three runs each, but with a big hitting team like that I think that's good.  We hit our spots and were moving the ball like we're supposed to."

Since the start of the season, the Penn State pitching staff, which is led by both Laubach and Jones, has drastically improved.  These developments have added to both the competitive nature and overall confidence of the team.

"I'm very proud of our pitching staff," said Lehotak.  "They've come a long way.  They're competing, and they're pitching the best they have all year right now."

Nevertheless, solid performances in the circle must also be accompanied by offensive production, which the Lions struggled with during the doubleheader.  The Blue and White turned in eight hits in the first game, but only managed to record three hits during the second.

"First game, we had a lot of runners on base," Lehotak said.  "We just could not get the big hit.  It was just one of those games where we had opportunities, but we just couldn't punch one through.  Game two we were just very uncharacteristic.  Very rarely do we ever have nine strikeouts in a game.  We weren't attacking early, and when we were attacking, we were going after pitches that were not good pitches to attack.  We had a really hard time getting momentum, and I think we got frustrated.  We just couldn't get out of it."

"Our offense just wasn't there today," added Jones.  "We weren't putting hits together.  We were having good at-bats, but when we needed the big hit, we just didn't come up with it."

With both positive and negative takeaways from its games against the Buckeyes, Penn State will regroup and prepare for its next Big Ten matchup against No. 12 Minnesota.  The series will open with Friday evening's game one, which is set to begin at 7 p.m.

"The main focus is keeping the ball on the ground when we're hitting, putting the ball in play, and just working the counts with the pitchers," said Jones with regards to upcoming series.  "Defensively, our pitchers just need to keep doing what they're doing."

Davis Eager to Get Back Into the Cage as Fight Approaches

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

9957903.jpeg
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- After 266 days, excited is probably too tame of a word to describe how Phil Davis will be feeling on Saturday.

When he steps inside the octagon opposite of Anthony Johnson on Saturday night, that is how long it will have been since the former Penn State wrestling national champion and current UFC light heavyweight contender will have appeared in a fight.

Despite not having been in the cage since a tightly contested victory over Lyoto Machida on Aug. 3, 2013, Davis is feeling anything but rusty. In fact, the no. 4 ranked light heavyweight apologized to fans expecting a close match.

"It's going to be a good fight but it's not going to be competitive," Davis said. "I'm going to win."

Entering Saturday's night's match with a 12-1 career record that dates back to 2009, the near nine-month wait isn't the first time Davis has had a long layoff between fights, with his longest having been just over 10 months (307 days) between March 26, 2011 and Jan. 28. 2012.

It's not as if Davis has simply been enjoying the down time since defeating Machida. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound fighter has been training non-stop in the gym, even making a visit to Penn State on Nov. 7 where he worked out with the team and even grappled with now two-time national champion David Taylor.

Going up against an opponent in Johnson who has most recently been competing in the World Series of Fighting since his last UFC appearance in 2012, Davis dismissed the notion that the time away from the cage would affect either fighter.

"(The layoff) doesn't really matter because I stay pretty busy in the gym," Davis said. "I've been able to focus on getting better with everything."

In a sport that involves the combination of both striking and wrestling techniques, Davis's background as a four time All-American wrestler with 116 career college wins gives him a clear advantage over many of his opponents because of his takedown skills and prowess on the mat.

Johnson, a former Junior College national champion out of Lassen College, takes a much different approach to mixed martial arts than the former Nittany Lion. While Davis relies on his speed and grappling technique, Johnson is a brawler who's best skill is his striking ability, with 12 of his 16 career UFC wins having come by either knockout or technical knockout.

On the other hand, Johnson has been susceptible to being forced into submission or "tapping-out" over his career, which happens to be one of the specialties of Davis. Having won four bouts by submission over the course of his career, Davis will have Johnson's three tap-out defeats in the back of his mind when the two square off.

"I think my skill set matches up well with his because he's not a well-rounded fighter so I'll make him look bad," Davis said. "My experience as a wrestler gives me a distinct advantage because I'll do what I want and he can't stop it."

A competitor by nature, the Harrisburg native will enter his match extra hungry, knowing that this victory could be the one that grants him an opportunity to fight for the light heavyweight title, which is currently held by Jon Jones.

As a proud alumnus of Penn State, Davis sees the athletic feats being accomplished by fellow Penn State graduates such as football players Michael Robinson and Jordan Hill winning the Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks and Olympic rower Natalie Dell winning a bronze medal at the 2012 London Games and is motivated even more to become a UFC champion.

"Penn State has a history of greatness and if you look at every sport, we have stars everywhere," Davis said. "To win a (UFC) title would be no different than those accomplishments."

When he visited the school back in November and worked out in the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex, the 2008 national champion was struck by not only the talent but also the work ethic of head coach Cael Sanderson's squad.

Watching the Nittany Lions enter the final session of the 2014 NCAA Championships in a tight race with Minnesota for the team title, Davis had no doubt that they would win their fourth consecutive national championship.

"Winning four straight (titles) is pretty amazing but it's what I expect at this point," Davis said. "They're losing two of the best seniors in the country (Taylor and Ed Ruth) next season, and I still expect them to finish first. The intensity and the coaching in that wrestling room is like nothing else."

Davis laughed when asked if he spun the idea of fighting in the UFC to Taylor and Ruth when he met the fellow four-time All-Americans, but said that he sees the same fire in the two national champions that he has himself. 

If there is one thing that man nicknamed "Mr. Wonderful" learned from former coach Troy Sunderland when he competed at Penn State, it's that a great competitor can't be persuaded to do anything, they have to want to accomplish it all on their own.

That's the attitude that attracted Davis to wrestling, and it's the same attitude that he carries with him not just in the cage as a mixed martial artist, but in everything he does in life.

"You don't wrestle because your dad told you to, you do it because you love the sport, and if you don't want it I can't help you," Davis said. "The most beneficial thing I learned wrestling at Penn State is that if I want something done, I get it done myself. There's no passing and no timeouts in wrestling so you have to create your own opportunities. It's a lot like life."

How his bout with Johnson turns out and whether he gets a title shot remain undecided, but whatever happens, there is no doubt that Davis will continue to strive for his goals, both as a fighter and as a person.

Nittany Lions Host EIVA Tournament

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
9840042 (1).jpeg
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Nittany Lions practiced these past few weeks - every serve, every hit, and every match had a little more focus to it as the team gets ready to host the 2014 EIVA Tournament in Rec Hall on Thursday and Saturday.

The teams competing are the top four ranked teams in the EIVA conference. No. 4 George Mason will compete against No. 1 Penn State on Thursday while No. 2 Harvard competes against No. 3 Princeton. The winner of the two matches will face off in the finals on Saturday. 

"My favorite part is watching the team really get its focus on now," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "To me it's very interesting to watch teams hone their competitive focus and all of a sudden practice takes on a different timber. Guys are very involved, very invested in practice from the top to bottom of our roster. It's fun to see they're knocking on the door of the goals that they had set for themselves about nine months ago."

As the team continues to compete, the players will use this tournament as another step towards their ultimate destination in their journey.

"We know that we can play at a high level and we're expecting to win a national championship this year," Peter Russell said. "Knowing that every match has a little more worth than what it did in the regular season is exciting. It's a lot more fun because we're competitors and knowing that we are competing for something a lot more than a regular season game is something special."

Knowing that the stakes are the same for everyone as they approach the EIVA tournament adds to the championship season and the competitive nature that comes with the top teams in the EIVA.

"Everyone's in the same position. If you lose you're done. The playoffs really matter and we were anxious to see who we were going to get. You don't overlook anyone because everyone's competing for the same thing," Matt Seifert said.

During the regular season, Penn State competed against each of these teams twice. In their first match against George Mason they won on the road 3-1. When they played the Patriots at home, they won 3-0. Against Princeton, the Nittany Lions lost 3-2 in Princeton, N.J. but won 3-0 when they returned to Rec Hall. When they played Harvard, they won both matches 3-0.

Although facing these teams twice may seem like an advantage, both teams know the same amount about each other and still have to prepare for the aspects of the game they may not expect.

"I don't think any team gets an advantage by playing the same team," Pavlik said. "Both teams have the opportunity to see each other and gather information to get comfortable with what's going on. It's another step in the process that we take in the goal of winning a national championship. We have to make sure we go back and take a look at what worked well against Mason and what worked well for them and come up with a game plan."

Here's a closer look at each of the team's competing and what head coach Mark Pavlik expects to see out of these three teams this weekend.

George Mason
Entering the weekend with an 8-6 conference record and a 14-13 overall record, George Mason won against Harvard 3-0 at home and lost to them earlier in the season 3-0 when they played on the road. Against Princeton, George Mason won 3-1 at home and lost 3-1 at Princeton.

"George Mason is a team that is coming back from Fred Chao having to replace all seven of his starters. They had a very tragic death in the George Mason family this summer with one of the guys they were counting on being on the court for them. I think they've spent a better half of this year trying to find their personality and find what works. The past three to four weeks they've been playing very, very good volleyball so we are going to have our hands full in the semi-final," Pavlik said.

Princeton
With a conference record of 10-4 and an overall record of 15-9, Princeton lost at home and at Harvard 3-2 both times. Against George Mason, they won 3-1 at home and lost 3-1 when they traveled.

"Princeton has shown they are very capable of playing big boy volleyball. They have shown they have really strong arms. Tony (Ensbury) is as good as a libero as there is in the league and they've been in some recent EIVA finals and most of those guys are still on the team so they're coming in here saying been there done that," Pavlik said.

Harvard
Harvard enters the tournament with an 11-3 conference record and 15-7 overall record as they bring experience to the court. Against Princeton they won 3-2 both at home and on the road. George Mason fell to them both times 3-0.

"Harvard replaced a setter this year, (Nick) Bendell has kept their offense running in between DJ White and his brother Casey and Chris Gibbons. They've had some pretty good ball control and arguably they have two of the best middles. It's a team that's been together also the past couple of years," Pavlik said. 

Women's 4x400m Relay Looks to Become Dream Team

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

9950083.jpeg
By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the 2014 outdoor season underway, the Penn State track and field team isn't taking any breaks as it looks to continue a record-breaking year.

This year, the Nittany Lions have showed off every last bit of sweat, every extra minute of effort, and every ounce of dedication they've shed at practice. Their perseverance has been reciprocated with new record times and numerous event sweeps.

A big component of the track and field team is the group of women that make up the 4x400 meter relay team: One freshman, one sophomore, one junior, and one graduate student who not only won at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, but also broke a university record at the NCAA Championships with a fifth-place finish.

Relay and sprinting assistant coach to the team Randy Bungard says this group of women is one of the hardest working on the team.

"They do everything I ask them to do," Bungard says. "They always want to do better and I believe they can."

The relay team has brought together four women who are accustomed to individual competition and created a team of champions. That being said, a Big Ten title and a fifth-place finish at the NCAA level does not come without adversity and obstacles.

***

When the sun rises and the mind is racing and the nerves are wired and the adrenaline is pumping, it can only mean one thing - it's race day.


The starter pistol fires and off she goes, baton in hand, at full-blown All-American speed, the lead runner of the Penn State women's track 4x400 meter relay race, junior Dynasty McGee.

For McGee, race day is when you show how much you've been putting into practice. Race day is a reflection of dedication and time.

"How you practice is how you run. Practice makes perfect and if you practice hard, you run hard," McGee said. "And when it's time [to race], we're serious and we're praying. I'm trying to calm [the team] down while keeping myself calm."

This season is McGee's third with the team and, so far, her dedication and commitment to the track is evident. She's consistent in victory, as most all-American athletes are.

In the 2013 outdoor season, she won the 200m race at the Jim Thorpe Open, she won the 400 m race at the Bucknell Team Challenge, and she finished fourth overall at the Big Ten Championships, to name a few.

There is always room for improvement, she says, and she will continue to work on the things she needs to work on to reach her goals, individually and with her team.

"Practices are going really well. We are working on the things we need to. As a team, I feel like we are getting along really well," she said. "The team now is a totally different team than it was my freshman year. We get along a lot better and we support each other a lot more."

She reflects on the changes she's seen in herself and her team throughout her three years.

"As a freshman, it was hard for me [to transition] so the things that they did to me that I didn't like, I make sure that I don't do that. Freshman year we have a bunch of divas and we weren't walking around holding hands, but now we have a good relationship. I make sure that I'm easy to talk to. If they need something, I will do my best to provide that," she explains. "Without [the other team members], I wouldn't have these accolades. I'm very grateful to them."

Coach Bungard is a fan of McGee's consistency and ability to mentor those around her. He is certain that her tenacity will lead her to her goals.

"Dynasty is steady," Bungard said. "She will probably get to first rounds, which is the NCAA qualifying. She didn't get there last year and having a shot to make the NCAA championship is a big thing."

On race day, she nears the end of her lap and hands off the baton to the second runner of the relay team All-American sprinter and veteran member, Mahagony Jones.

Jones is finishing her fifth and final season with Penn State where she's spent five years growing into the person and the athlete she is today. In 2013 alone, Jones was an All-American, a two-time Big Ten Champion (200 m and 4x400 m relay) and the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Women's Mid-Atlantic Track Athlete of the Year.

"Mahagony is just Mahagony. She's always there when she needs to be," said Bungard.

She, like her teammates, spends day in and out on the field working on her goals.

"It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of motivation, and staying focused," she explains. "You can't get in your own way. You need confidence. You have to have confidence in yourself and in your teammates."

This season is more than just another one for the record books for Jones. This season is her final chance to leave her legacy at Penn State before venturing out to the world of post-collegiate track.

"Penn State track has raised me these past five years. I've definitely grown a lot since I got here," Jones said.

She wants to capture some more All-American moments, she says, which she will focus on for the rest of this year.

As for her post Penn State career, let's just say Jones does not plan on leaving the track behind her just yet. She hopes to one-day stand on a bigger podium, one where she will have the opportunity to represent something bigger than herself.

Halfway through the race.

Up next on the spotlight, the third runner of the relay and the youngest of the Nittany Lions, freshman Tichina Rhodes.

Rhodes is in her first season as an NCAA Division I athlete and it has definitely a road of adjustments.

"When she first came in, she lacked a little bit of confidence. She wasn't sure what to expect and probably never expected to make this relay," said Coach Bungard. "She was overwhelmed with academics and the training was a bit different than she had done and I think without the other three [relay members] she probably wouldn't have survived."

"It's been a lot of fun but it has also been a lot of hard work. In high school, I was at the top. I was leading workouts and [I] come to college and [I] have to work my way up," said Rhodes. "[My teammates] push me a lot to better myself. Here I'm not always leading the workouts and they help out a lot."

Confidence is a fundamental for success and Rhodes has put all her trust in herself, her teammates, and her coaches, who have been working all season to mentor her to become the best she can be. Being a top-level athlete is no easy feat and coming off an up and down individual season, Rhodes is just working on progress.

She steps up the plate when necessary and her teammates smile when they talk about her dedication.

"She hasn't let us down yet," they say.


Almost at the finish line.

Anchoring the relay and running one of the most crucial last moments of race is sprinter, hurdler, All-American sophomore Kiah Seymour.

Last weekend, Seymour broke a 200-meter race facility record at the Bucknell Team Challenge finishing in 23.66 seconds.

Seymour is in her second year with the Penn State Track and Field team where she's already established her ability.

"Kiah is very mature and she's one of the top athletes on the team. She came in in such better shape this year," said Bungard.

"From this year to last year I would say I made a 180-degree change. I've progressed a whole lot more because I want it more now. I love what I do. I love the sport and that makes it easier for me and this is where I feel the most comfortable. That's really what motivates me and drives me to keep going," Seymour said.

Seymour is a quiet individual with a fierce competitive attitude. She sits quietly, still, and focused. As her time at Penn State passes, her drive only becomes greater.

It's evident to her teammates and those around that while she is great at what she does, she will one day be phenomenal. She's a force to reckoned with.

End race day.

This race day, however, ended with more than just tired legs. This race day ended with history. At the end of the day at the NCAA Indoor Championships, the women earned a fifth-place finish in their relay race, a Penn State record.

They just went out there and did what they know how to do: run hard, they said.

"We weren't expecting to break a record," said Jones. "We just went out there and did our best."

Modesty at its finest.

"But it was great," Jones said with a smile on her face.

Her teammates laughed with her.


***

The Nittany Lions are more focused now than ever as they enter the prime of their outdoor season.

This is what they train for, they said.

All four women agree that the most important part of racing is believing in yourself and in your teammates.

"Don't get into your own head," they all said. "Confidence is key."

McGee says their relationships on and off the field are great and they are key components in team performances.

"We have gotten a lot closer this year. Relationships outside the track definitely contribute [to success]," said McGee.

"They've got a pretty good natural chemistry and that's one of the things that I think is special about this relay," said Bungard.

For now, all four athletes will focus on their individual events.

McGee will look to qualify and impress at a national level.

Jones will strive for All-America status and she will look to break her own personal best.

"Mahagony was third indoor in the 200 [meter race] so she wants to at least be that good outdoor and [she] want to make the 100-meter final," said Bungard.

Seymour will look to surpass even her own expectations.

"Kiah didn't win the Big Ten in 400-meter hurdles last year so I know that's a goal of hers and she's leading the Big Ten; she wants to finish high in the NCAA," said Bungard.

Rhodes will look to grow to full Nittany Lion Division I potential. She will continue to work on her confidence and hopes to truly prepare herself and to make her presence known.

When they compete as a relay team, the women bring together their most valuable assets and they hope to outshine to competition. 

While Penn State will be losing a valuable runner in Jones come graduation, the future looks very bright. McGee, Rhodes, and Seymour will return next year with the Nittany Lions in search to break more records and Coach Bungard is confident that fans can expect nothing but great things from these four superstars, both individually, as a team, on and off the field.

Look out for these four dominant girls and the rest of the track team as they venture through their outdoor season. Up next is the Penn Relays held in Philadelphia, which begin on Thursday.

Patient Offense, Composed Defense Propelled Lions Past Delaware

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

9950017.jpeg
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- During a sunny Easter weekend in Happy Valley, the Penn State men's lacrosse team took down Delaware behind a disciplined defensive game plan and a potent offensive attack.


"We harped on discipline and hustle all week," said senior defender Tyler Travis.

The Nittany Lions put on a fundamentally sound performance in front of their home crowd en route to a 10-6 victory over the Blue Hens. A display of patience on offense and composure on defense earned the win for the Blue and White, moving their record to .500.

"I thought that collectively they made a lot of big plays," head coach Jeff Tambroni said of the defense after last Saturday's win. "We just asked each one of those guys to do their part and Coach Toner did a great job of putting a game plan together."

On the attack, senior Shane Sturgis's stick came to life in front of nearly 1,500 fans in attendance. A six-point performance (4g, 2a) was exactly the spark that the offense needed to rally behind.

"He took charge of the offense," Tambroni said. "He's by far our biggest and most dynamic leader in the offensive end and typically when he's playing well, everybody feeds off his energy and confidence."

Sturgis' big game increased his goal total to 30 on the season, which is already three more than what he scored in 2013. The senior has been a staple in Tambroni's offense since his freshman season, and the coaching staff is pleased to see him finish his career strong.

"Earlier in the year he was playing hard and productive; in the middle of the season he was playing hard but shots weren't falling, but today he was the one guy that was shooting consistently," Tambroni said.

The offense went on a 6-1 run that spanned three quarters against Delaware, fueling the Nittany Lions with all of the momentum. The scoring run was sparked by the timely decision-making and poise displayed by Sturgis.

"He did a wonderful job of reading Delaware's offense and getting our guys organized on the fly," Tambroni said.

Sturgis and fellow senior Tom LaCrosse have been tremendous leaders to the younger players this season, enabling them for success in seasons to come.

"Between TJ Sanders and our freshman crew, it's taking a little while for those guys to season and develop," said the fourth-year coach. "It was nice to see those guys (the seniors) come out and play the way they did because they complemented that group of freshmen very well."

Seniors on the defensive side of the ball were extremely impactful as well. Travis and Steven Bogert combined for 11 ground balls while goaltender Austin Kaut was locked in to the Delaware shooters and made 14 saves.

"I thought what stood out is some of the seniors made some consistent efforts and consistent plays that made us comfortable in the offensive end," Tambroni said. "Travis, Kaut and Bogert were so reliable and they just made such a difference to holding Delaware to low-angle looks."

The Nittany Lions are down to just one game left on their 2014 slate as they prepare to host CAA rival Hofstra next Saturday. Faceoff against the Pride is set for 12 p.m. on senior day. 

Nittany Lions Win Pivotal Game Against Johns Hopkins

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
9947168.jpeg
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On a beautiful night in State College, the Penn State Nittany Lions turned in a superb performance, beating the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays, 12-10, to earn their ninth win of their season.

Simply put, the Blue and White buckled down, did their jobs, and got the win.

After a back-and-forth first half, the Nittany Lions went into halftime trailing the Blue Jays, 7-4. Penn State had some success in the first half, but Johns Hopkins made huge defensive stops to limit an offense getting into their groove.

That all changed as soon as the second half got underway.

"Well, again, I wasn't necessarily mad about the first half," Doherty said. "We needed to make some saves, we needed to come up with some momentum-turners, and we needed to put our shots away. Thankfully, [in] the second half the girls got their heads up; we put our shots away, got a couple goals in transition.

"We know we can score quickly, so the girls took advantage of that in the beginning of the first half. I was saying, 'we need to make them stop us,' because sometimes we're going up and we're not being stopped yet. So keep going until they stop you and they did a good job of doing that."

As we have seen before, the Nittany Lions seemed to just turn a switch and dominant games. They opened the second half by scoring five goals in a row to take an 8-7 lead. Madison Cyr scored three goals in a 26-second span and completely put the Blue Jays on their heels.

"You score one you want to keep going," Cyr said. "You score two you want to keep going. It definitely helped."

The three goals in 26 seconds are not that unusual for a player like Cyr, according to her coach.

"We're trying to get her to score four in 30 [seconds]," Doherty said with a laugh. "So we just missed the mark. She's great. She's great because she is a smart cutter and a smart challenger. She knows when to come in and make the most of a situation and she did that tonight."


Part of what made the Nittany Lions' comeback look so smooth was their play in transition. The turnovers they were creating on the defensive end were becoming excellent offensive opportunities, and they were continuing to capitalize on the Blue Jays not having their feet set defensively.

"Despite Hopkins, I think we are a good transition team," Doherty said. "I think we see each other well. We go hard to goal well. We can score quickly. We took more advantage of it in the second half than we did in the first half."

With just over 10 minutes remaining in the game, the game was tied at 9-9. Cyr scored her fourth goal of the game when fellow midfielder Jenna Mosketti hit her in stride and she beat goalkeeper Caroline Federico five-hole to take the lead. The Nittany Lions outscored the Blue Jays 2-1 in the games final minute to secure the victory.

One of the major storylines in the second half was the play of freshman goalkeeper Cat Rainone. She stepped in mid-way through the first half and helped provide a serious spark to the Nittany Lions. She made five saves to earn the win, including some sensational saves on free-position shots.

"In the cage, it's not a mental thing," Rainone said. "You just have to go in there and do it. Get your body behind the ball and just make the save.

"It was a great game for everybody; it's definitely a team effort. The one play that I made doesn't make he game. So I am definitely proud of everybody on the field, especially our sideline, being our support system, being there when we have turnovers and when we make good, big plays. They are always there to support us."

The Nittany Lions will now head back to the practice field as they prepare to go for win number 10 against Princeton on Senior Day this Saturday.

"We have great character on our team," Doherty said. "We work hard all game long and sometimes the breaks go your way, and sometimes they don't. This game we were able to put our shots away when it counted and we were able to make huge defensive stops. We had a great couple charge calls when the girls got in position to take that charge, and those were momentum-turners for us. They stepped out when they needed to, defensively, and got in front a lot of the players. They were just on it tonight; it was great to watch."

Lions Remain Confident Despite Weekend Losses

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Miller_9947016.jpegBy Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After dropping all three games of their weekend series with fellow Big Ten competitor Wisconsin (27-15, 9-5 Big Ten), the Nittany Lions (14-26, 5-10 Big Ten) are focusing on the basics and striving to keep their game simple and skilled.

Four errors over the course of the two days proved costly for Penn State, which fell by a score of 6-3 on Friday night and scores of 4-0 and 5-2 during Saturday's double-header.

"Both teams gave great effort and made some spectacular catches, but we dropped two routine pop flies," said head coach Amanda Lehotak.  "That's killer.  We couldn't recover.  We felt offensively, it was just a matter of time to score runs, and if we catch that [pop fly], then that could be a completely different ball game."

Agreeing with the remarks of her coach was Macy Jones who appeared in all three games, playing at first for games one and three and pitching game two.

"It was just a few key errors that ended up really costing us runs," said the pitcher.  "Sometimes they don't, and sometimes they do.  In that case, they did, and our offense didn't really show up the first game either.  I think sometimes errors are ok because you can get out of them, and sometimes they are really costly."

Although the Lions were unable to make some of the more routine plays, they had a number of impressive defensive catches.

Sophomore Reina Furuya and freshman Shelby Miller both made spectacular grabs in the second of Saturday's two games.  Furuya made a diving catch along the third base side, while Miller nabbed a soaring line drive, both of which helped to keep the game within the Lions' reach.

Additionally, Furuya, along with senior Kasie Hatfield, led the way offensively for the Blue and White.  Furuya recorded two hits in game two, and Hatfield reached base twice in game three.  Nevertheless, throughout the entirety of the series, Penn State was outhit by the Badgers 20-13.

"A lot of us were trying to do too much," said Hatfield of the team's batting struggles.  "I think a lot of us wanted to come through and be the one to hit a homerun instead of just doing the simple things and getting hits."

"I think we should have been attacking the pitchers more, and we were kind of being passive," added Jones.  "Instead of being hitters, we were being swingers."

Despite the fielding mistakes and cold bats, the Nittany Lions are still confident and ready for what the rest of the season has to bring.

With Jones and freshman Marlaina Laubach nabbing a majority of the pitching time for the Lions, the position is becoming much more of a strong point for the team.

Laubach started games one and three, going the distance for seven innings in both.  The right-hander gave up five earned runs on Friday and one earned run in Saturday's second game.

Jones also turned in a complete performance on Saturday, allowing only three earned runs off a homerun.

"I think I did pretty good, minus the homerun, which I don't think was a bad pitch," said the Virginia native.  "She put a good swing on it.  I think that I hit my spots well and all my pitches were working."

Looking forward, the Lions will travel to Ohio to take on the Buckeyes in a Wednesday evening double header.  Ohio State is currently 6-9 in the Big Ten and 20-23 overall.

When asked what the most important aspects will be leading into the match-up, Hatfield was very concise and definite with her response.

"Making the simple plays," said the senior.  "Trying to limit our errors and get back to hitting the way that we were hitting coming in to this weekend will be very important."

Dunn and Jann Shine Despite Weekend Setbacks

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Jann-TJ (2).jpeg

By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As proud as the Penn State baseball team was of its 8-0 record at home entering a three-game weekend series against Illinois, it knew that the bulk of its Big Ten schedule presented some daunting challenges.

Going up against the second ranked team in the conference, the Nittany Lions led at different points of all three games, yet couldn't find a way to pull out a victory, falling by scores of 6-3, 8-3, and 7-6, respectively.

Despite the losses, the first two games were highlighted by strong performances from the Nittany Lions' starting pitchers. On Friday, senior Tim Dunn tossed a career high six and two-thirds innings in which he only gave up two unearned runs while junior T.J. Jann went six plus innings on Saturday, giving up four runs, as the final two crossed the plate after he had been taken out.

"[Tim] was awesome and you're seeing a guy trusting himself and he's not afraid to throw strikes and start bats," head coach Rob Cooper said. "[TJ] competed and gave us a chance to win after giving up two early runs and that's what we ask our guys to do."  

Friday night especially was a showcase for Dunn, who made just his fourth start of the season and set forth a strong case for future appearances, striking out five batters while allowing just one walk and five hits.

Jann on the other hand, didn't have his best stuff in his team high 10th start of the season, but he gave a gritty performance in an attempt to get the Lions back into the series. While he was unable to record a strikeout and gave up two runs in the first three innings, the Westford, Mass. native settled down to retire 11 straight batters from the end of the third inning through the sixth.

"I tried to keep my team in the game and give us a shot to win," Jann said. "I had a good rhythm and when I was pounding the [strike] zone things were going my way."

In each of the first two games, it only took one rough inning for things to turn the Fighting Illini's way. On Friday, Penn State entered the eighth inning with a 3-2 lead, but three singles, two walks, and a hit batter led to four Illinois runs that produced the game's final score.

The next day, reliever Jack Anderson nearly got out of a bases-loaded, zero out jam by recording two straight outs before a timely single by Adam Walton led to another four-run inning that erased another 3-2 Penn State lead.

"Jack was one pitch away from getting us out of that inning having given up nothing and even the [single] that put them ahead was a good pitch. Their guy just did a good job of hitting," Cooper said. "We were five outs away from winning [on Friday] and nine outs away from winning on [Saturday] and we've got to finish them off. This is part of the learning process."

Sunday's game went the opposite way for the Blue and White, as Ian Parvin managed to go just three innings in his first career start and the Nittany Lions saw a 1-0 first inning lead erased by seven Illinois runs over the next four innings.

Trailing 7-3 after seven innings, Penn State stayed determined, adding one run in the eighth before hits in the ninth by Taylor Skerpon, Ryky Smith, and Ryan Richter produced two more runs and put the tying run on second base before Illinois pitcher Tyler Jay managed to end the game with a double play.

Despite the third loss, Sunday marked a career day for the third baseman Richter, who went 3-for-5 with an RBI in just his 11th start of the season.

"Even when it was 7-3 we felt like we were right in it the entire time," Richter said. "That's just our mentality and if one ball squeaks up the middle we could have won the game."

Cooper acknowledged the spirit of his players and while he said he is proud of their efforts, there is plenty the team can do to improve as they prepare to move forward.

Having already won three more games this year (17) than they did all of last year (14), the first year Nittany Lions coach knows that many have already called this season a success, a mindset he does not endorse.

As Cooper has stated before, he couldn't care less about the past or what others outside of the program expect of his team. With more Big Ten opponents approaching on the schedule, all that matters is that the Nittany Lions take this weekend as a learning experience and use it to get better.

"It's easy to say that last year these games wouldn't have even been close but we can't accept that...we need to finish games off," Cooper said. "Nobody is going to feel sorry for us but if that last inning is any indication, our guys are going to keep competing."

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

After One Year, Farkes Reflects on Boston Marathon

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Farkes-Alex (4).jpeg

By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Growing up in Boston, Penn State senior catcher Alex Farkes had his own little Patriot's Day tradition.

Every year, Farkes and his friends would attend the Boston Red Sox game in the afternoon and then walk to Boylston Street to catch the end of the Boston Marathon. For Farkes and many Boston natives, it was not just another day on the calendar, it was the city's own holiday.

"[Patriot's Day] is a very important day in Boston and it's part of the city's identity," Farkes said. "I'm blessed to be from [Boston] and I'm proud of it."

Last year, as Farkes spent his Patriot's Day afternoon preparing for practice, he received the same shocking news as the rest of the country: a bomb had gone off near the Marathon's finish line at Boylston Street.

Suddenly, all of the trivial things that had been on the Nittany Lions catcher's mind, such as his team's 8-1 loss to Michigan the day before, didn't seem to matter much. After speaking with the coaching staff, Farkes quickly called his three older brothers and his parents to make sure they were unharmed, which thankfully, they were.

While the reassurance of his family and friend's safety helped ease his mind somewhat, the news and the aftermath of the day were still hard for the junior to process.

"It's hard when you live so close that you can feel the ground shake when you talk to your family," Farkes said. "I just prayed for the victims and hoped that they would be rushed to safety and that everything would be okay."

Looking back on the fateful day a year later, Farkes is able to take pride in the resiliency that his hometown showed during the traumatic period. However, the week following the bombing remains one of the toughest of the 22-year-old's life.

With the city of Boston on lockdown as police searched nearby Watertown, Mass. looking for the culprits, Farkes tried to remain focused on the team's upcoming series against Iowa, something that wasn't easy to do with his family on his mind.

Luckily for Farkes, he had fellow Massachusetts natives in pitcher T.J. Jann and outfielder Sam August to lean on throughout the week. On April 20th, the day following the successful manhunt, Farkes managed to go 2-for-4 in a game against Iowa, though his mind was still largely elsewhere.

"[That week] was tough because my brothers live near Watertown and it was scary. It hit right at home...right there and it was pretty crazy," Farkes said. "I try to play the game the same way every time but it definitely put things in perspective and I just wanted everyone to be okay."

The 2013 season was still in full swing and Farkes did his best to go about his normal routine as usual. When the Nittany Lions final game on May 18 ended, however, Farkes knew there was something he needed to do.

Returning home a few days later, the loyal Boston native made a special stop before he did anything else. He walked to the spot of the finish line and took a moment to let everything sink in.

"I walked to Boylston Street, walked up the street for five minutes and I just stood there for a while," Farkes said. "There's a Marathon Sports (running store) there and I bought a "Run to Remember" t-shirt and stood there and just took it all in."

For Farkes, Boylston Street had always been a part of his childhood. In that moment, it dawned on him that the place now represented so much more.

"It's scary because I walked around there my whole life, to get a bagel or get food and those are the streets that I grew up on, and everyday my parents let me go out," Farkes said. "My heart slowed a little bit walking around there."

Over the past year, Farkes has watched his hometown rebound slowly but surely. The Stanley Cup Finals appearance by the Boston Bruins and the World Series victory by the Red Sox helped bring the city's community together and will forever remain highlights for him.

Though the senior said he never needed a reason to be proud to call Boston home, watching the response to the attacks by both civilians and hospitals as well as the actions by the Boston Police Department made him realize how lucky he is.

"I'm so blessed to know that those people were protecting me my whole life and I feel very lucky for that," Farkes said. "I was already proud of that city and I guess I'm even more proud now. I'm just thankful that they were able to save so many people."

Watching the tributes given this past Tuesday by Vice President Joe Biden and many others on the one-year anniversary of the day, Farkes was reminded of the importance of Patriot's Day and the Boston Marathon, two things that will always hold a special place in his heart.

He may currently be enjoying his senior season on a team striving to give new head coach Rob Cooper a winning season, but if there is one thing Farkes learned over the past year, it's that some things are more important than baseball.

"Some people can do some scary things," Farkes said. "If there's one thing I take away it's that each day is a blessing."

 

--NITTANY LIONS--