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VIDEO: Women's Gymnastics NCAA Practice Session

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's gymnastics team took part in their practice session at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex on Thursday, April 17. Head coach Jeff Thompson and freshman Emma Sibson talked to following the team's tune-up.



Confidence Drives Doubleheader Sweep of Bucknell

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Team_9935420.jpegBy Tyler Feldman, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Riding the hot bat of freshman Shelby Miller, the Nittany Lions (14-23, 5-7 Big Ten) swept intrastate rival Bucknell (15-20, 7-5 Patriot League) in Wednesday evening's doubleheader at Beard Field, 6-3 and 10-5. After a slow start to the season, Penn State has now won eight of its last nine games.

"We know we can win now," said Miller. "We've seen that we can do it, and we're doing it."

In Game one of the doubleheader, Penn State used a complete game performance by Marlaina Laubach to lead the Nittany Lions to a 6-3 win.

Laubach went the distance, throwing 118 pitches, while allowing three runs, two earned. The 5-foot-8 right-handed freshman walked just one batter and tied a season-high with six strikeouts. She improved to 9-10 on the season and recorded her eighth complete game of the year.

"We're much more confident as a staff," said Laubach. "We all have a lot more confidence in one another. When I'm on the mound, I go out and try to act the most confident that I can."

On the offensive front, the Nittany Lions scored in all but one inning in the first game.

Batting seventh, Miller was a perfect 3-for-3 at the dish, driving in one run and scoring another.

"We're kind of protecting her [Miller] down there," said first-year head coach Amanda Lehotak. "She's getting better pitches. She's kind of our second leadoff to get that bottom of the order sparked again."

The Blue and White carried the momentum into game two of the doubleheader, jumping out to a 9-0 lead after just two innings of play.

"Game two we attacked early, which was exactly what we wanted," said Lehotak. "The top of the order really came out and followed the game plan to a 'T' and when we do that we can put up 10 runs."

Like the first game, Miller was a big reason why Penn State was so dominant offensively against the Bison. The second baseman went 2-for-3 with a triple and four runs batted in.

"I was just seeing it, and my biggest goal today was just, and every time I go up to bat, was just to relax," said Miller. "Just take a couple deep breaths, go up there, and do what I need to do."

Unlike the first game, however, the Nittany Lions used a trio of pitchers to get past Bucknell. Christy Von Pusch, Marissa Diescher and Macy Jones took to the mound to combine to give up five runs, three earned, on seven hits, five walks and six strikeouts.

Looking ahead, the Nittany Lions host Big Ten foe Wisconsin this weekend for a three-game series. Nevertheless, according to Lehotak, adjustments will need to be made to get past the aggressive Badgers.

"Bottom of the order has to get on," said Lehotak. "We have a couple big holes. We have to take care of the ball defensively. Wisconsin is very aggressive. They are very top heavy in the top of the order, batting average, numbers-wise. They swing hard, and they're going to come right after us. Our pitching is going to have to hit their spots. We have to keep limiting our walks."

Loizeaux Making Her Comeback Complete

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's very rare to see a transfer player come in and make an immediate impact. They have to pick up a new system, develop new chemistry, and understand what exactly it is that the players around them want to do.

It is especially challenging in a sport like lacrosse, where you have to be on the same page with your teammates on the field throughout the entire 60-minute game.

But for junior-transfer Jess Loizeaux, the transition has been no problem.

As a matter of fact, she has made the transition look easy and she has done it very smoothly, and with her own style.

The attacker is coming off an injury that caused her to miss her sophomore season at Virginia, and so far she has thrived in her new offense with her new team.

"I like it more," she said. "It's really hard to be out for a full season with an injury, mentally. It definitely messes with your mind. In the fall, it kind of gave me that period to get back to playing full swing and in competition in the fall ball games.

"Playing games is so much more fun for me. Just being able to compete and go to practice everyday and compete is just so much fun. "

Through the Nittany Lions' 14 games this season, Loizeaux's consistent play has proven to be invaluable, as she has become one of offensive leaders on this team. Currently, she boasts a 12-game point streak and is sixth on the team in points.

In her freshman season as a Cavalier, she scored eight times and assisted on three goals. As a Nittany Lion, her production has nearly tripled as she has 18 goals and 12 assists on the season.

Part of what has made her so effective in this offense is how well she has gelled with the other girls in blue and white, and how her playing style is very similar to the one head coach Missy Doherty has installed over her four years at the helm.

When the Mullica Hill, N.J., native has the ball in her stick, the aggression and tenacity she displays is tremendous, but her intelligence also stands out. She is always looking to get the ball to goal and beat the opposing goaltender. But at the same time, Loizeaux is very selective with her shots and will always pass up something forced for a better play.

Her style is similar to that of her teammates and the connection was instant from the first moment they stepped on the field together. 

"I really, really enjoy playing with Maggie [McCormick] and Mackenzie [Cyr], especially on attack," Loizeaux said. "I think we all kind of play similar. Everyone on the team is unselfish. No one is a ball-hog or anything like that. It works really well with how I play.

"I like to get feeds inside and that kind of stuff. I think that our team all plays very similar and we are all equally good and we are not selfish, so I think I fit in pretty easily. But it was hard to get back into remembering how to play the game and that sort of thing."

Getting back on your feet and making an immediate impact is no easy task, as Loizeaux will attest to, but so far so good for the New Nittany Lion.

Loizeaux and the Nittany Lions return to action when they welcome ALC rival Johns Hopkins on Friday night for a pivotal game. Game time is set for 7 p.m.

Floor Routines Send Lions to Birmingham with Confidence

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By Gabrielle Richards, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At the center of most gymnastics arenas and practice facilities lies a blue, chalk dusted, white-tape-outlined, square area. In the 39-foot by 39-foot space, gymnasts combine tumbling, dance, and stunts, while doing their best not to land, leap, or "stick it" out of bounds. For the Penn State women's gymnastics team, this complex event secured its trip to the NCAA Championships.

Gymnastics, a sport that was once dominated by men, didn't officially become an Olympic sport until 1924. Women were not allowed to compete in Olympic gymnastics until 1928, where they were allowed to compete in only one event. Floor performance was one of the last rotations added to the Olympic slate of gymnastics events; women weren't allowed to compete in floor routines until 1948.

Floor performance is the primary event where gymnasts are given a canvas for artistic expression, a canvas that coaches Jeff and Rachelle Thompson allow their gymnast to paint themselves.

"When we came to Penn State, we decided to take a backseat to the choreographing of floor routines," Rachelle said. "We allow our girls to have the most input in this event."

The Nittany Lions' first regular season meet of the 2013-'14 season was at Iowa State, where the team scored 48.600 on floor. Over the course of the next few meets, Penn State was improving dramatically in their overall floor scores.

"We didn't expect floor to become our best event," Rachelle said. "This has always been an event that is unpredictable at the start of the season. Last year we were really weak on floor, but this year, we planned ahead and got the girls ready to compete on floor early."

The coaching philosophies of the Thompsons are unique; their primary focus is building a community within their team. At the beginning of each season they break the team up into event-based teams - floor, bar, beam and vault.

"This system allows for the girls to help each other," Rachelle said. "The floor team developed sooner than any other team. I would have never guessed in October that floor would be our strongest event, but it is.

There wasn't a meet all season that the Nittany Lions didn't improve on floor. Their consistency and improvement on floor shined in the Feb. 15 meet against No.15 Illinois. Penn State, who was ranked No. 21 at the time, was not favored to win this meet. But, heading into the final rotation of the competition, the Nittany Lions were tied with the Illini. The Thompsons and their gymnasts left Rec Hall that day with a "W" and their highest floor score of the season, 49.375.

Their fate at the NCAA Regional Championships wasn't much different; their qualification to the NCAA Championships rested on their ability to "stick" a near perfect floor rotation. And they did.

"That was a roller coaster of emotions," Rachelle said. "As a coach, I refused to look at the score board. I wanted to stay in the moment and I wanted the girls to stay in the moment. I know floor is our best event, but anything could happen."

The Nittany Lions finished their floor rotation with a score of 49.425 and secured their slot at the NCAA Championships.

"I am excited to see how we match up to the other schools of floor," senior Lindsay Musgrove said. "At this meet [NCAA Championships] we start off the competition on floor. I am hoping that that will get us on a good roll."

The Penn State women's gymnastics team was "Birmingham Bound" Tuesday night, where the team will begin competition on Friday. This is the first time since 2009 that the team earned a spot at the NCAA Championships.

"Our message all year has been 'Just be us,'" Rachelle said. "When we didn't advance last year, we asked the girls to buy into our new system and they committed to it. We tell them all the time to stay present and if we can do that in Alabama, the Super Six is in our reach. What we have accomplished this season has raised the bar for Penn State gymnastics. This is what we do at Penn State."  

Coming Full Circle in Alabama

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By Samantha DelRosso, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- As freshmen in 2011, Penn State gymnasts Lindsay Musgrove and Kassidy Stauder competed in their first collegiate gymnastics competition in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Three years later, the two will return to the southern state this weekend to compete in the NCAA Championships and their final meet as Penn State gymnasts.

Appropriately, this week's Word of the Week is "Full Circle", which attributes the seniors' journey starting and ending in Alabama.

The NCAA championship meet is the meet of all meets for collegiate gymnastics teams. This meet is unlike any other. Musgrove is looking forward to the championship atmosphere most.

"It's a completely different atmosphere. Thousands of people in the stands, crazy lights, glow sticks and you get to compete on podium, which is a big stage in front of the crowd" Musgrove said.

The second Word of the Week is "Us". The team is focusing on being themselves and competing how they practice everyday.

"We are coming in [to practice] and knocking out routines every day, so we just need to transfer that to the meet just like we did at Regionals and have our best meet," Musgrove said. "We've [also] been focusing on not looking at teams like Florida and Alabama and trying to be like them or be 'as good as them'. Who we are at Penn State is good enough to run with those guys."

The Nittany Lions saw No. 1 Florida compete at Regionals just two weeks ago and know that they can put up a fight against the Gators.

"Going into [Regionals] we knew they were ranked No. 1 and at the end of the meet, finishing just three-tenths behind them just shows how good we are. We have just as good of a chance as any other team to make it to Super Six," junior Randi Lau said.

Making it to Super Six means being a top six team on the first day of the competition and competing in the second day of the event. The Nittany Lions have never made it to the Super Six.

Penn State will start the competition this weekend on floor. Musgrove is looking forward to this event most.

"We're ranked the ninth in the nation on floor. Ending on floor at regionals, every single person hitting their routines, was so awesome," Musgrove said. "At this meet, we get to start on floor, so hopefully that will get us on a good roll to finish out the whole meet."

This weekend, No. 15 Penn State will compete in the evening session on Friday with No. 1 Florida, No. 4 Alabama, No. 5 Utah, No. 8 UCLA and No. 9 Nebraska. The Nittany Lions will begin with a bye, then proceed to the floor exercise, followed by vault, another bye, uneven bars and finish with balance beam.

The Big Ten has four teams competing this weekend (Penn State, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan). The Big Ten and the SEC have the most teams competing in the 2014 Championships (Florida, Alabama, LSU, Georgia).

As this season comes to an end, the team is beginning to reflect on the past season. At the end of the 2012-'13 season, coaches Jeff and Rachelle Thompson devised a new plan for the team. The values and fundamentals of the team were going to change for the upcoming season. The gymnasts had to sign on to this new program, without knowing what was to come. Lau, who transferred last year from LSU, said she had to buy in to the Thompson's program, but it really paid off.

"The Thompsons really care about you on a personal level. I believe in their program and what they think. Their coaching styles are so encouraging," Lau said. "I trusted them as coaches to know that their program would work and it did. Here we are on the road to nationals."

The Blue and White's mission for the their first-ever trip to the Super Six begins on Friday at 8 pm.

"This opportunity is so amazing and we made it all happen ourselves," Lau said. 

VIDEO: Lady Lions Season Review Press Conference

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Coquese Washington and the Lady Lion players met the media on Wednesday to review the 2013-'14 season.  Penn State won its third-straight Big Ten title and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time in the past three seasons.  Take a look.

Defense Gets Confidence Boost Heading Into Final Home Stand

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By Jackson Thibodeau, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Senior goalie Austin Kaut's monster game Saturday night at Towson has given the Penn State defense just what they need to finish the season strong - a boost in poise and tenacity.

"It really gives our guys a lot of confidence defensively to know that Austin is going to make those saves," said assistant coach Peter Toner. "That was a great boost for the defense and certainly a great thing for him to find a groove.

Kaut rejected all 11 Tiger shots that came his way en route to a dominant 8-1 Nittany Lion victory, which moved the team's record to within one game of .500.

"It seemed like everywhere they shot the ball he was a step or two ahead of them," Toner said.

The only Towson goal came with just over a minute remaining after Kaut was pulled and replaced by freshman netminder Connor Darcey. Although the defense was just a minute away from the program's first shutout in almost 50 years, giving up that lone goal doesn't take away from their dominant showing.

"It just seemed like we were always the aggressor defensively whether it was defending the ball, sliding into a double team or picking up ground balls," Toner said.

Kaut, 2013's NCAA goalie of the year, was determined and focused last week in practice on finishing his senior season strong.

"We come out and work as hard as we can and never give up--that's our motto as a senior class," Kaut said.

The senior's showing on Saturday demonstrated that playoffs or not--this team is still motivated and always hungry for a win.

"I think he just made a decision during the week that he was going to take a step in the right direction and that's why he was dominant Saturday night," Toner said.

Towson's offense, led by senior Thomas DeNapoli, was denied three times in each of the first three quarters. The few times that the Tiger attack broke through the Nittany Lion defense, Kaut was there to deny their shooters.

"[DeNapoli] is definitely a catalyst to their offense and Towson does a lot to move him around and get him shots," Toner said.

Senior defender Tyler Travis was matched up against DeNapoli, which is a paring he has become familiar with. Travis has defended the prolific Tiger attackman in multiple games over the last few seasons, including last year's CAA championship loss.

"Tyler did a really good job on DeNapoli," Toner said. "That's a matchup he's had the last couple of years and it was a big part of our defensive game plan to stop DeNapoli. Tyler got a lot of help from the guys around him."

The Blue and White are down to just two games left on their 2014 slate--both of which will be CAA battles at home. When Delaware and Towson come to Happy Valley the next two weekends, fans can expect to see a focused, gameplan-oriented defense.

"As the year goes on it's good for these guys to get some confidence and have a sound game plan going in," Toner said. "They've done a very nice job of buying into finishing this season on a good note."

Faceoff against Delaware is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday. The Blue Hens come into Happy Valley with a 6-7 overall record and a 0-3 mark in conference play. This will be the second-to-last CAA matchup for the Nittany Lions before they join the Big Ten in 2015.

Takeaways Abound After Weekend Series at Ohio State

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By Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio - It was a back and forth weekend between Ohio State and Penn State during the Nittany Lions three game set in Columbus. After Penn State took game one of the series, 5-4, in dramatic fashion, the Blue and White dropped the next two games of the series, 7-0 and 12-6.

Friday night Penn State held on to win the first-game of the series, 5-4, and led 4-0 after four innings of play. Jack Anderson was stellar out of the bullpen throwing three shutout innings and recording five strikeouts for his fourth save of the season.

Head coach Rob Cooper was pleased with his team's resiliency in series opener.

"These guys have been coming to the ballpark every day whether it's a practice or a game and really making the choice to compete and play hard. They did that again today [Friday]. Even when Ohio State chipped away at our lead and made it close that [competitiveness] didn't change."

However, just as the scores indicated, Penn State's execution was back and forth on the weekend. Saturday the Nittany Lions' went cold on all fronts, including at the plate getting just four hits on the day, two of which came off of the bat of redshirt sophomore Greg Guers.

Sunday Penn State was down in another deep hole, trailing 5-0 after three innings, but then put up five unanswered runs to tie the game after five full innings of play.

Infielders Ryan Richter and Ryky Smith both had multi-hit games on a day where they were put in the lineup for extended time in Big Ten play for the first time in 2014. Richter got the start at third base and took advantage of the opportunity.

The redshirt sophomore was 2-for-4 on the day with 3 RBI.

"I've been waiting for the opportunity so I knew that if I went in there and played hard things would go my way," Richter said.

Smith received his chance in a little bit different of a fashion as he replaced Sunday's starting second basemen Taylor Skerpon after he was injured sliding back into first base in the second inning of the series finale. Cooper said after Sunday's game he had been impressed with Smith's work ethic all season long and wasn't surprised he had a big day.

After Tuesday's game against West Virginia, Cooper heard Smith in the batting cages getting swings after 10 p.m. continuing to work hard even though he wasn't seeing much playing time. That work paid off Sunday as Smith had a career high three hits in three at bats, scored two runs and had an RBI.

"I didn't really have time to put pressure on myself too much," Smith said of his play off the bench. "I didn't put too much pressure on myself and didn't try to do too much and that's why I felt good out there."

Besides Saturday where Ohio State starting pitcher Greg Greve threw a complete game shutout, Penn State fared well at the plate, despite leaving seven runners on base on Sunday in a game where they had 13 hits.

Aside from Richter and Smith's huge offensive days Sunday, outfielder Steve Snyder was 6-for-14 on the weekend upping his season batting average to .374 which is now good for third in the Big Ten.

However, Friday's win and Sunday's hitting performance is overshadowed in the minds of the players by dropping the series to the Buckeyes. With that said though, there is a lot for Penn State to take away from the road series moving into this weekend's home conference series with Illinois.

"We're pretty disappointed that we couldn't win the series, but we did some things right. We need to remember that we did some things right offensively," Smith said. "Limiting the mistakes [errors] is the key. They aren't huge mistakes but they are little mistakes that add up so we need to clean up those little mistakes and remember what we did well, too."



Players Reflect on Historic Campaign

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Paniccia-Nicole (5).jpeg

By Jackson Thibodeau, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2013-14 Penn State women's hockey season was monumental in numerous capacities. The young, aspiring program took leaps in its second year of existence with numerous individual and team accolades--displaying its inevitable destiny to grow in coming years.

"Our program has made tremendous steps since day one, both on and off the ice," said senior assistant captain Jenna Welch. "The opportunity of a lifetime lies at our fingertips. I can see this program accomplishing something big in the future."

The Nittany Lions completed their inaugural season in Pegula Ice Arena with a 4-29-3 overall record and a 1-18-1 record in College Hockey America play. Despite the uneven tilt in results, the Blue and White showed grittiness and resilience throughout the season, providing promise for the future.

"There have been a lot of underclassmen stepping up as leaders and they're a very hard working group of girls," said senior captain Taylor Gross. "I am very confident in the girls on the team now and I am so excited to see them grow as players and people even more than they already have."

The season officially came to a close for head coach Josh Brandwene's squad the first weekend in March after the Lions were swept by RIT in the first round of CHA playoffs. Just like many of the games throughout the regular season--the Lions hung with their opponent until the final whistle in the playoffs.

At season's beginning in October, Penn State leaped out to a promising start. With a tie and a win in the first weekend at Vermont, the team returned to Pegula Ice Arena for an eight-game home stand to christen the state-of-the-art facility and in the second ever women's hockey game in the new arena, Penn State earned its first home win behind a third period power play goal from freshman Laura Bowman.

Midway through the second full season of Division I play, the offense hit a bit of a lull, but regained its stride in the tail part of the schedule.

"I think that our offense performed very well this year besides the drought in the middle of the year," Gross said. "We improved throughout the entire year."

In all, 12 Nittany Lions registered a goal while 19 student-athletes tallied at least one point. By far the most promising aspect of the offensive unit was the production from younger players.

Bowman, a freshman, led the team in goals with 10 and ranked second with 16 points, earning her a spot on the CHA All-Rookie Team. Fellow freshman Amy Petersen ties for fourth on the team with five goals and 15 points, with sophomore Hannah Hoenshell leading the way in points for the Blue and White with 17.

Despite the success from the underclassmen, the senior leaders wished they had seen even more from the whole team.

"For the most part I feel like we did a decent job [converting our scoring chances], but we definitely could have capitalized on a few more opportunities to bury the puck," Welch said. "Just watching the way we moved the puck in the playoffs compared to the beginning of the season says a lot about the work ethic of our team and coaching staff in trying to improve every day."

Defensively, Penn State displayed composure from top to bottom all year. Graduate student Lindsay Reihl mentored freshman Kelly Seward throughout the season as they challenged one another to become better overall players every single day.

"Overall, our defense has a lot of depth," Gross said of her teammates.

The team totaled 594 blocked shots this season to help out goalkeepers Nicola Paniccia and Celine Whitlinger. The nearly-600 blocks dwarfed the opponents' total of 398. Seward led the way for the Blue and White with 57 blocks to her name in a very impressive freshman season and her counterpart Reihl ranked second 55.

In Paniccia's senior campaign, she saved 773 shots while posting a .913 save percentage in 22 starts. Oddly enough, Whitlinger's save percentage matches that of her senior mentor as the sophomore turned away 559 opponent shots and earned three of the team's four wins.

Sky's the Limit
The maturity and determination within this young team and even younger program provides light for the future in Hockey Valley. Penn State was awarded the Team Sportsmanship Award by the CHA at season's end while Gross earned the Individual Sportsmanship Award in the conference.

Players and coaches will look back at monumental events like move-in day to Pegula Ice Arena, the first game in the 'New Den' and a record-breaking crowd in the Lions' Skate for the Cure game. All of these point towards a bright future for the second year program.

"I will always be so appreciative of the opportunity to have played at this amazing university," Welch said. "T
he experience I had here has helped build me into the person I am today, and is one I will remember for the rest of my life. I encourage the girls to always remember how blessed they are to have this opportunity and enjoy every second of being at Penn State."



Nittany Lions Begin to Climb Big Ten Standings

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Hatfield_9925297.jpegBy Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Starting the season 0-6 in the Big Ten, few believed Penn State would achieve success in the conference.  Nevertheless, after two strong away series, the Nittany Lions are proving they can and will compete.

Grabbing two wins from the three roads games against Indiana this weekend, the team once again stayed calm, collected, and focused during high-pressure situations.

The Lions' emerged victoriously in games one and two of the series, winning 4-1 and 2-1 respectively.  The team's sole weekend loss came on Sunday afternoon during an extra innings battle in which it ultimately fell to the Hoosiers 8-7.

While Sunday's outcome was a huge disappointment to the team, as it snapped their 6-game winning streak, the Lions and head coach Amanda Lehotak were ecstatic about their overall weekend performance.

Lehotak attributes her team's recently elevated play to an increase in confidence, which she believes is highly important and beneficial in all aspects of the game.  Additionally, the head coach felt the pitching staff "had probably the best weekend they've had all year" and felt all members of the team registered quality at-bats.

Sitting at 5-7 in the conference, Lehotak likes where her team is at right now, but what she likes even more is where they are headed.

"To me, it says the team is mentally tough, that they are resilient, and that they get the big picture," said Lehotak of the team's much improved Big Ten record.  "Those first two weekends were arguably against the two best teams in the conference right now, and we knew we just had to get through that.  We got through that, and we have a lot of winnable games coming up.  We just felt resilient, and as long as we kept playing our game, we could compete with anybody.  That's what they're doing, and they're crawling their way back into the Big Ten, so I'm happy for them."

Key to the Lions' climb back up the Big Ten standings is senior Kasie Hatfield.  Batting .354, she constantly and consistently produces offensively for her team.  This weekend was no different.

Hatfield went three-for-three in Friday's game, registering her first homerun of the year.  She then followed her spectacular game one performance with two hits in both games two and three.  Throughout the entirety of the weekend, the senior also drove in seven of the Nittany Lions' 13 total runs.

In addition to these impressive statistics, the Florida native also left a more permanent mark on Penn State softball.

Sunday afternoon, Hatfield recorded her 12th double of the season, which earns her recognition in the Penn State record books.  She is now listed ninth on the single season doubles list.

"She was just Mrs. Clutch all weekend," said Lehotak with regards to Hatfield's performance.  "I mean, every time she came up, you just felt she had an opportunity to get a hit and have a great at-bat, which is what she did.  Her pitch selection was good.  She was attacking early in the count.  She just had a great weekend."

Although the Hoosiers' ran away with the Sunday afternoon win, the Lions are staying positive and confident in their playing abilities.  Looking ahead, the team knows and fully understands that its schedule will be challenging, but this more favorable mindset and outlook will take them far against these future opponents.

"They have the belief that they can win, the belief they can compete with anybody, the belief that they can compete at a high level day in and day out," Lehotak said of the team.  "I really think, hopefully, we just keep getting better and better."