Recently in Softball Category

12463569.jpegBy Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Last season, the softball program boasted a talented and experienced outfield, featuring seniors Lexi Knief, Erin Pond and Macy Jones.  This season, redshirt sophomore Rebecca Ziegler, in the midst of a four-game hitting streak, is picking up some of the slack.

Having sat out her freshman season due to injury, and backing up centerfielder Lexi Knief a year ago, head coach Amanda Lehotak knew Ziegler would be ready to go this year. 

"She's been outstanding for us.  I thought opening weekend, it didn't really show in the stat line, but she had a lot of quality at-bats.  So this weekend, to see them kind of finally fall for her, I was really pleased...Having that spark in the leadoff spot is exactly what we needed from her," said Lehotak. 

When you first meet Ziegler, you can see her passion for the game.  Lehotak sees it too.

"Ziegler just loves the game.  When you talk to her, she's just passionate about softball, baseball," Lehotak said.  "She can tell you baseball stats of who's doing what, so I think its just a perfect storm in the fact that she's finally physically healthy, and I think she's just having a really good time playing the game right now."

Where did Ziegler develop her love of the game of softball?  Part of that has to do with her family.  Her older brother, C.J., was a first baseman at the University of Arizona before playing professionally in the minor leagues.  Seeing him perform well on the diamond was where Ziegler got her fire. 

"Growing up around a baseball field, seeing him dominate on the field, really drove me to want to be as good as him," she said.  "He made me love this game, so watching him be such a force at the plate and on the field, that's who I aspired to be."

Now, playing for a Nittany Lion team heating up early on in the season, Ziegler can leave it all on the field manning the starting center field position.  Her effort can be seen during the week in practice behind the scenes and in the cage.

"As long as I swing as hard as I can in the cages, it translates onto the field...I just try to improve every single at bat and try and make it better than the last time," said Ziegler.

Ziegler also has bought into the team philosophy this season.

"This year's theme is staying within the tribe, being a tribe, so as long as we do that, we'll be ok," she said.

Ziegler and her teammates will be traveling to Conway, South Carolina to take part in the Chanticleer Showdown this weekend.  The squad will face off with Coastal Carolina, Campbell, Cleveland State and Morehead State, and Lehotak knows what needs to be done to continue the team's four-game win streak.

"Our defense needs to sustain and we need to keep doing a good job... Pitchers, were looking for them to attack," she said.  "There were a couple of situational areas this past weekend where we kind of got lucky, so making sure we fix that, and, offensively we have to do a better job of making adjustments earlier."

With that in mind, Ziegler and the Lions are trending upwards in the early stages of the season, especially in the eyes of Lehotak.

"The mixture of having our youth be really mature and our seniors having the 'been there, done that' mentality, I think it's been the perfect blend."

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By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State is back on the road this weekend, this time in Atlanta where they'll take on Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech in the second annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

 

Teams are picked for the tournament based on the final standings from two seasons ago. The top eight teams in each conference are invited to compete, so after missing out on the tournament last year, Penn State is excited to use this as an opportunity to prove themselves in the Big Ten.

 

"It's the first step to be relevant in the Big Ten," said head coach Amanda Lehotak. "The qualifications go on RPI and in my first year, when they scheduled two years out, we did not qualify. But to know we're in the tournament for next year and even be a higher seed in the tournament based on last year, it's very exciting and it does show that we are now relevant."

 

On top of proving themselves in the conference, Lehotak is excited for the opportunity for her team to represent the Big Ten. And with postseason implications on the line, she's looking forward to the matchups going on around the conference.

 

"This is the first time we've qualified for it so that's really exciting for us. And it's a big weekend, it's a weekend that can separate the Big Ten from the ACC on Selection Show Sunday so really we just want to represent well and play good softball," Lehotak said.

 

Senior Shelby Miller, playing in this tournament for her first and only time, added to that sentiment, and has high hopes for Penn State.

 

"It's an honor to compete in this tournament because we get to go out and represent the Big Ten," Miller said. "I'm hoping, and I know, that we will do a good job representing the conference."

 

In last year's inaugural Challenge, the Big Ten finished with a 20-12 record. And for Penn State, after topping then-No. 4 LSU during opening weekend, Miller knows that in order to keep that momentum heading into the Challenge the team has to make sure their game is on point.

 

"In the LSU game, everything was on," Miller said. "The pitching was on, the hitting was on and our defense was on. It's just a matter of, in every game, having at least two of the three being on, because we can't just have defense or we can't just have pitching. We need to have at least two of the three to win."

 

Despite having a young team, Lehotak feels that her players have shown maturity so far, and that's helping them to fix mistakes from week one as they move forward.

 

"We really want to continue with the process. We had our ups and downs, and we know where we're weak," Lehotak said. "The team has high maturity in the sense that we don't have to convince them where we're strong and where we're weak, which is nice, we haven't had that. So for them to come back this week and really prepare for the ACC schools, I like our preparation and I like our mindset."

 

Penn State's first game of the tournament is on Friday versus Georgia Tech. First pitch is set for 3 p.m.

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By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State softball team is under a week from kicking off the 2017 season. After a successful season last year, the Nittany Lions are ready to get back on the diamond and pick up where they left off.

Season Starts on the Road
Opening Weekend will be in Baton Rouge, Louisiana this weekend when the Nittany Lions take on McNeese State, LSU and Oklahoma State in the LSU Tournament. After that, the team will continue to play in tournaments down south until the weather warms up in Happy Valley. 

While there are challenges of playing so many games on the road, the team isn't worried about it affecting them in any way.

"It's kind of fun actually, playing at somebody else's field is more like a challenge," senior Shelby Miller said. "You're not in your comfort zone and we do drills everyday [at practice] that make us uncomfortable so we're very used to being uncomfortable. Plus it's fun to see all the other cultures of the other schools and you gain respect for what they do." 

Sophomore Tori Dubois added that just because the team is away from Beard Field it doesn't mean they're not capable of playing their best game. 

"I think that being on the road for the first five weeks, everyone's like 'oh, you're on the road, the wear and tear of the travel and everything,' but we take that as a challenge," Dubois said. "Why can't we go and perform in their place and then we can prove ourselves there. We don't have to be home to win, we can go on the road and show everyone what we can do." 

Building off Last Season's Momentum
Penn State finished last season with a 30-24 (14-9 Big Ten) record, its first 30-win season since 2011, when that team finished with 31 wins. The team also finished in the top four in the Big Ten for the third time in program history.

Despite the impressive season, the team missed out on the NCAA Tournament and head coach Amanda Lehotak and company have only used that as motivation for this year. 

"It's absolutely a motivating factor. We've always talked about that we need to gain respect in the Big Ten first before we can gain it nationally," Lehotak said. "We felt we did that, finishing fourth in the Big Ten regular season, beating Nebraska [in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals] and finally starting slowly to chip away at Michigan [in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals], which was a big step for our program. So in terms of are we motivated? Absolutely." 

Competing with a Young Team
Lehotak lost seven seniors to graduation after last season, and replacing them will be no easy task. Macy Jones and Lexi Knief hit .398 and .356, respectively, and held down the outfield for the Nittany Lions.

Pair those losses with the transfer of catcher Alyssa VanDerveer, who hit .362, and Lehotak is going to need someone to fill in their shoes in the batter's box.

"All the seniors [last year], their senior year was when they really excelled, but the good thing is Shelby [Miller] returns and Tori [Dubois] was coming on strong at the end of the year so we expect our youth to step up," Lehotak said. "If they hit like they've been hitting in practice, we could potentially be better 1-9 than we've been, but it is hard to replace a Macy Jones and a Lexi Knief."

Despite having a young team, Lehotak is optimistic that her team's new look will translate into a more complete game on the field. 

"We're going to have a completely new look on the field. I think it's an exciting look, I think it's a more athletic look and I think we're deeper 1-20 than I think we've been since I've been here," Lehotak said.

Competitive Practices Driving Team Forward
Looking to improve upon last season, the coaching staff has been keeping the players on their toes each practice. Instead of sticking with a normal routine, the players are getting curveballs thrown at them each time they arrive for practice.

"Our coaches have really been switching it up every single day, giving us something new that we've never seen before," Miller said. "It's been really refreshing as a player because you go from doing the same thing a lot of the time with the same people and now it's completely different, you're with a new group, new girls, you've got so many new drills." 

Lehotak echoed the sentiment, adding that by getting into the rut of a routine, the team wasn't helping itself reach that next level of success.

"We talk about how we've been knocking on that door but we haven't really done anything yet, so the challenge this year, coaching staff included, is that we're going out of our comfort zone in every area," Lehotak said. "I love routine, but that also wasn't helping us get to the next stage so it's been all about that and it's been all about being uncomfortable." 

Playing Around a Complete Pitching Staff
At this point in time, Lehotak is most confident in her pitching staff, which has grown in the offseason, both in size and in talent.

"I think our pitching staff is probably the strongest part of our team right now in terms of complete consistency," Lehotak said. "Marlaina Laubach obviously has been our ace for four years and Maddie Seifert finished on a great year, so they're the one- and two-punch. The greatest thing about them is they set each other up really well."

After using a rotation of mainly Laubach and Seifert last year, Lehotak plans to incorporate other pitchers into the lineup to keep everyone fresh.

"You're going to see some kids that you didn't see much of last year. Maddie Shaffer has emerged as one of the most competitive pitchers on the staff in regards to what she can do off-speed. Madey Smith, a freshman, she gives a completely different look. And then Jess Cummings who has had some injuries for the past two years, is finally healthy, and she really changes the dynamic of our staff in a great way. I'm very excited about our entire pitching staff, which is really fun as a coach to say."

The Nittany Lions take the field for the first time this season on Friday at 1:30 p.m. against McNeese State.

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By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State ended its Big Ten Tournament run with a 6-1 loss against No. 2 ranked and top-seeded Michigan in the semifinals Saturday evening. 

Michigan jumped out to an early lead thanks to an RBI single from Kelsey Susalla, followed by a two-run homerun from Tera Blanco and a solo shot from Aidan Falk, all in the first inning. Despite the early hole, head coach Amanda Lehotak didn't feel like she had to be the one to motivate her team heading into the next frame.

"I didn't need to. This team is so seasoned that I didn't need to have any 'coach speak' with them," Lehotak said. "They knew exactly what they had to do. The way we run our system, the only thing we were focusing on was answering, so we were just trying to focus on the answer inning and move on to the next pitch."

The Nittany Lions weren't able to get a hit against the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Megan Betsa, who pitched the first 2.2 innings for Michigan. However, the Lions were able to get one earned run off of her in the third inning, when she walked four straight batters to score one.

Betsa had the bases loaded with catcher Alyssa VanDerveer up to bat, a scene reminiscent of Penn State's quarterfinal win when VanDerveer hit a grand slam in an almost identical situation.

With the fans loud and on their feet, VanDerveer almost played hero again, ripping a line drive down the sideline, but it fell just inches into foul territory. VanDerveer ultimately drew the walk to score Macy Jones from third base.

"We're in those situations so many times during practice, we really hammer situational awareness during practice," Lehotak said. "Coach [Joe] Guthrie's probably the best in the country, making sure our kids are used to that situation. I was just looking for a plus and looking to move 60 feet, and [VanDerveer's] the one you want in that situation, she's great, she loves that moment, so if we could do it again, I hope she's in that moment."

Lehotak pulled starting pitcher Marlaina Laubach before the start of the second inning in favor of freshman Maddie Seifert, who then finished out the game. Seifert earned the save in the quarterfinal game when she pitched 2.1 innings of relief for Laubach.

"It's everything [being able to get that production from a freshman]," Lehotak said. "Obviously, to be at the top of the country, you have to have great pitching, so for her to come in like that and consistently get better throughout the year is huge. I really think Seifert can be something special over her career, so hopefully that's just the starting block"

Taking Betsa out of the game early and keeping Big Ten Player of the Year Sierra Romero at bay were two big things Penn State was looking to accomplish, and they did.

"Our two goals were to take the Pitcher of the Year off the mound, which we did, and shut down the Player of the Year, which we did," Lehotak said. "I think both were 0-fors [Romero finished 0-for-4] so that was a goal. Those two, Betsa and Romero, are amazing athletes so for us to do that, it's a small victory and we feel really good about that."

Penn State is still hopeful that their season isn't over yet; Lehotak and her team are preparing for a possible spot in the postseason tournament.

"I'm secretly hoping it's not over yet, I still think we have a shot," Lehotak said. "I think we may be one of the last teams out, maybe the last teams in, depending what happens to our RPI and everything. I think we can make some noise in the NCAA if we got the chance, you never know, but I don't think anybody would want to play us right now with the way we're playing."

After the championship game on Saturday night, in which Minnesota defeated Michigan 4-3 in 10 innings, the All-Tournament team was announced. Shelby Miller and VanDerveer were both selected to the team for their efforts in both of Penn State's games. 

If Penn State doesn't make the tournament, they still finished the season at 30-24 overall (14-9 Big Ten). It's the first 30-win season since 2011, when the team finished with 31 wins. The team also finished in the top four of the conference, marking just the third time in program history to do so.

After playing all season feeling as if they weren't respected in their own conference, Lehotak finally feels that her team was able to get the message across that they're a force to be reckoned with. 

"I don't know how you don't respect us after this year and after how we played this weekend," Lehotak said. "I think that's for our peers in the Big Ten to decide, but coming in, we didn't feel respected at all, we felt we had something to prove all year. I feel that we've proved it, that we're here, to being the upper echelon in the Big Ten, that we can do it and we're very serious about it. By some handshakes I've received from coaches, I think they respect us now."

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By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- In front of a standing-room only crowd, the Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 8-7 in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Big Ten Tournament on Friday night.

Sophomore catcher Alyssa VanDerveer got the Penn State offense rolling and sent the crowd into a frenzy when she put one over the right field fence with the bases loaded in the third inning. 

The grand slam, VanDerveer's fourth of her career, dug the Nittany Lions (30-23, 14-9 Big Ten) out of an early 1-0 hole after a Mattie Fowler RBI put Nebraska up in the first inning. 

"I was just looking for a pitch to hit into the outfield to even just score one run at that moment or even just a base hit up the middle," VanDerveer said. "I wasn't trying to do anything special but I happened to hit the ball hard and my teammates did a great job of getting on base before me, and I couldn't ask for anything else."

Despite preaching all season that she doesn't want her team to rely on the long ball, head coach Amanda Lehotak was happy with the way that VanDerveer handled herself in that situation.

"In that moment right there, we work on those situations all the time. I actually think our kids are very good in those situations," Lehotak said. "And that's what we reward in those moments, so Alyssa's very good in that situation that we work in all the time. I actually really trust all of our kids in that so she got the right pitch and she did something with it and it was a lot of fun."

After a Nebraska (33-19) pitching change, Shelby Miller hit a solo homerun on the first pitch she saw to extend the Penn State lead to 5-1 

"I just saw a good pitch and I hit it," said Miller, who was hitting sixth in the batting order, rather than her usual two spot. "When another pitcher comes out we want to be ready to hit, kind of shut them down, so first pitch I'm going to go hit and I swung and it happened to go over the fence."

Miller's homerun came after she had a slow start to the game, although it didn't last long. The junior had an error in the first inning, but shook it off and finished the game with seven assists to first base.

"After that, I knew I had to just do what I do and not be nervous, it's just another game," Miller said.

Nebraska kept the Nittany Lions on their toes in the second half of the game, scoring three runs in both the fifth and sixth innings.

Penn State battled back in the bottom half of the fifth inning to score three runs of its own, thanks to a Tori Dubois double and an Erin Pond single, both coming with runners already on base.

Nebraska was able to cut the lead down to one in the sixth with a three-run homerun from Kiki Stokes, but that was it for the Cornhuskers. With runners in scoring position, Penn State centerfielder Lexi Knief made a diving catch to end the inning and prevent Nebraska from tying up the game.

But even with the lead narrowed down to one, the Penn State defense was still keeping it loose on the field, and they weren't hiding it. During a timeout, the infielders not included in the meeting at the mound could be seen dancing to the music playing over the speakers. 

"It's who they are. When they're not having fun, then as a coach I know we're in big trouble," Lehotak said. "I think I have the best coaching staff in the country with Coach Si [Sarah Sigrest] and Coach [Joe] Guthrie and we believe strongly in our preparation, so our kids, to me, being willing to dance in a crucial moment during a timeout, I interpret that as a head coach that they know exactly what they need to do." 

With the win, Penn State advances to their first conference tournament semifinal since 2002, and their third semifinal overall. 

After the win, Coach Lehotak wasn't too worried about watching the next game against Indiana and Michigan in its entirety, the winner of which Penn State would be taking on in the semis [Michigan eventually won, 10-0]. She was ready to celebrate the win with her team at every Penn State student's favorite place: The Creamery.

"I kind of feel like we should get ice cream. I know a lot of teams when they come here and they play us they go get ice cream if they win and I love a victory cone so we're going to check out some ice cream and then we'll probably work our way back."

The Nittany Lions will take on the #1 seed Michigan in the second semifinal game on Saturday. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m. 

VIDEO: Nittany Lion Softball Set to Host Big Ten Tournament

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the first time in program history, the Nittany Lion softball team will play host to the Big Ten Tournament.

Action on Beard Field at Nittany Lion Softball Park begins on Thursday with four games. The Nittany Lions will play Friday (5:30 p.m.) after earning a bye as the tournament's No. 4 seed. Penn State has finished in the top four of the conference just three times prior to this season.

The Nittany Lions won five conference series en route to a 14-9 Big Ten record. Penn State tallied 13 wins at home this spring, including seven in conference games.

In all, 12 of the 14 teams will be in action at Nittany Lion Softball Park. The tournament will consist of 11 games, with each contest slated to air live on the Big Ten Network.

Penn State will meet either No. 5-seeded Nebraska or No. 12-seeded Purdue in its first game on Friday at 5:30 p.m. The Lions did not play either team during the regular season. Nebraska enters the tournament at 32-18 and ranked No. 32 in the RPI. The Boilermakers finished 27-27 in the regular season and are rated No. 83 in the RPI.

Big Ten Tournament Schedule
Thursday, May 12
12 p.m. - No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 11 Rutgers
2:30 p.m. - No. 7 Illinois vs. No. 10 Michigan State
5:30 p.m. - No. 5 Nebraska vs. No. 11 Purdue
8 p.m. - No. 8 Wisconsin vs. No. 9 Indiana

Friday, May 13
12 p.m. - No. 3 Northwestern vs. Ohio State/Rutgers Winner
2:30 p.m. - No. 2 Minnesota vs. Illinois/Michigan State Winner
5:30 p.m. - No. 4 Penn State vs. Nebraska/Purdue Winner
8 p.m. - No. 1 Michigan vs. Wisconsin/Indiana Winner

Saturday, May 14
1 p.m. - Semifinal No. 1 (Friday game one winner vs. Friday game two winner)
3:30 p.m. - Semifinal No. 2 (Friday game three winner vs. Friday game four winner)
6 p.m. - Championship Game



GoPSUsports.com caught up with head coach Amanda Lehotak and senior Macy Jones to preview the Big Ten Tournament. Take a look.





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By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The job search is difficult for any student in college, especially one playing a Division I sport.  For the Penn State softball program that search has gotten a little easier, as Lee Beard and Elizabeth King have created a program to help current Nittany Lion softball players have future success in the real world. 

 

First, Lee Beard and her husband, William Beard, donated funding to create the brand new softball facility in October of 2009.  Now, Lee is positively affecting the futures of the players by donating her time. 

"The program that we've set up is really about providing networking, opportunities and some instruction, as well as mentoring for the softball team," said Beard. 

The idea was formulated by head coach Amanda Lehotak, who reached out to Beard and King last year in an effort to ensure future success for her student-athletes down the road.  Only less than a year from its conception, the program has already assisted many of the girls with gaining jobs and internships for this upcoming summer and beyond. 

Two seniors, Macy Jones and Christy Von Pusch, are going to be working at the same supply chain rotational program in North Carolina and will be roommates.  Senior Shannon Good will be attending Upstate Medical University in the fall.  Junior Sam Shanahan has accepted one of two offered internships in her home state of Washington at the University of Washington giving Sports Nutrition counseling to the student-athletes there.  Meanwhile, star pitcher and junior Marlaina Laubach has decided she will be working with children with autism, helping out in a special education program.

The program consists of frequent meetings about building LinkedIn profiles, resume workshops and etiquette dinners, among other things.  All of these skills are being taught by Lee and Elizabeth, who have extensive experience in the fields of banking and human resources.  

"Its been really helpful, the entire process, with both Elizabeth and Lee," said senior Reina Furuya, who is in the process of interviewing for her next step post-college.

"Elizabeth has been a successful VP with Starbucks for 18 years now.  Having that direct contact with her, learning her tips and [having them look] at our resumes and [having them] follow us through the entire process has been very helpful," she added.

King reflected on why she is lending a helping hand and why it is important for alumni to give back.

"When I was a student-athlete, there wasn't a program like this, and I think what has happened over the years is as the student part of the student-athlete has become more and more important.  Coaches like Coach Lehotak understand how critical it is to provide resources to the students to get them ready for after college."

The tradition that Beard and King have started with the softball program will likely spread to other Penn State sports, as the duo have also helped a Penn State swimmer better her skills during her interview process. 

Beard and King lending their time and effort to the softball team not only is helping the student-athletes themselves, but will also serve to help the community where these talented individuals will find themselves later on down the road. 



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By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK. Pa - As shortstop, Reina Furuya is always busy on the diamond. She's constantly running between second and third base, trying to prevent as many hits as possible from crossing over into the outfield. 

She was especially busy in Penn State's (28-21, 13-7) three games against No. 2 Michigan, but none more so than in game one on Friday night, a close 4-2 loss to the visiting Wolverines. 

With a steady rain coming down onto Beard Field, the senior shortstop dropped a popup to shallow left field, when it fell into her glove and popped right back out.

But the Hawaii product didn't let it get to her head; the next time the ball was hit to her, she got the final out of the inning by running the ball herself to third base. 

"That's what Reina does," head coach Amanda Lehotak said. "She does a great job, she took them out of a couple innings and we had that momentum shift because of her defensive play. It was huge how she played tonight. She played like a senior tonight."

On the other end of the spectrum, Lehotak also saw some good play from the next generation of Nittany Lions: freshmen Tori Dubois and Meghan Williams.

Dubois played in all three games, as the designated player (DP) in the first two and as catcher and right fielder in the third; she also caught for a few innings in game two. Williams was put at first base in game three, replacing Kristina Brackpool. 

"It was important for them to get that game like experience and for them to get to see that kind of pitching," Lehotak said. "[They got] to kind of see what they have to work into and hopefully what they're going to be one day. We had a couple of injuries so we had to move some people around today but I was very impressed with their poise. So for our kids to have poise like that and to go after Michigan as freshmen is big."

Next up for Penn State is their final series of the season, when Illinois travels to Beard Field for a three game series next weekend. Game one is slated for Friday at 6 p.m.

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By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Marlaina Laubach and Madison Seifert tossed a pair of gems Wednesday night against St. Francis (Pa.).  But was there something tropical that helped them hurl such great games? 

 

Blow up palm trees can be seen all around Beard Field during each home game, and the superstition serves as a reminder to the players to hang tough during the game.

"The palm tree represents our culture here.  Palm trees are a type of tree that weather the storm, we call it.  So when its stormy out and if it bends over, it always comes back straight up," said Seifert. 

Clearly, the plastic, 10 feet long timber brings the mojo to Beard Field.  But there is no substitution for sheer dominance in the circle.  Laubach worked quickly in throwing a complete game shutout in game one winning 6-0, and was locked in all evening; according to head coach Amanda Lehotak.

"She attacked the zone.  Laubach missed two spots all night."

While Laubach works quickly when she's on the rubber, Seifert takes a little more time in between pitches.  Not necessarily a bad thing when she only made one mistake pitch all night long en route to another complete game win.  Seifert paces around the mound and concentrates in on the catcher's mitt before letting one fly. 

"I like to wipe the slate clean.  I like to think of each pitch as the next pitch and really dial in.  You can't really control the pitch before [or] the pitch next.  You just have to think each pitch," said Seifert.

The strategy worked.  The Blue & White took game two by a score of 4-2. 

Team camaraderie was in full effect Wednesday night as well.  The dugout was loud, supportive, and constantly chattering, while the fans were really into both games even as the temperature dropped steadily.  The pre-inning huddle at the pitcher's circle puts on display the team buying into each other, and Seifert explained exactly what is said during those mound visits composed of the entire infield.

"If we just scored, we want to shut them down.  If we're kind of dead, we're trying to get each other pumped back up and then if it's towards the end of the game, we call it a countdown.  It's like the countdown to the end, the end of the game is the most important part.  We've got to be the most focused then, so that's what we talk about."

Good situational hitting was the key to putting runs on the board for the Nittany Lions.  Sac-flies that turned into RBIs, and grounders to the opposite side of the infield moved runners over that eventually came in to score. 

"To me, the last 15 games, we've really tightened that up and we've done a good job.  The kids have been staying calm and have not tried to be the hero.  To me, they're really having selfless at-bats right now," praised Lehotak.

At this point in the season a year ago, Penn State was 24-24 (6-11), but now they smell the NCAA tournament with a 28-18 record, 13-4 in conference play. 

"We should not lose [at home]," Lehotak added.  "We should have that attitude."

The squad must carry that mindset into the weekend, where a potential season-deciding series with second-ranked Michigan will go a long way to determining the Lions' NCAA tournament hopes.  For now, dominant pitching and selfless at-bats should do the trick moving forward. 

 

 

By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It isn't enough to have a 4.0 GPA since freshman year of high school.  It isn't enough to have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors twice.  It isn't enough to be a heck of a designated player, hitting a game-winning shot against Maryland last weekend.  Softball senior Shannon Good wants to make a difference. 

 

"I actually went on a mission trip to Guatemala last fall and really loved the reconstructive surgery they did there, so right now, that's what my interest is," she said.

Good will be attending SUNY Upstate Medical University in the fall as a graduate student after completing her pre-med program at Penn State.  She is interested in all aspects of surgery, but has a special interest for helping out and doing reconstructive surgery in less developed countries.  Her head coach, Amanda Lehotak, knows she is incredibly driven. 

"She's just very 'this is what I'm going to do, this is how I'm going to do it' and nothing really seems to phase her.  I know they all get stressed, but Shannon's one of those kids that, to me, it's hard to tell when she's stressed or overwhelmed," Lehotak said.  

Good was originally a chemical engineering major, like her sister Courtney, until she realized she wanted to be more hands-on with her patients.  She did know from a young age she wanted to be a medical professional.  Since then, she has received near-perfect grades, and was considering Cornell before she chose Penn State and its chemical engineering program. 

With the softball team heating up, she has proven she can be a key contributor to the team.  In game three of last weekend's series against Maryland, Good pinch-hit with the bases juiced in the bottom of the sixth.  She proceeded to rope a single up the middle, scoring two runs and securing the victory for her team. 

So yes, she is a good softball player.  But everyone around her realizes she is more than that.

"Shannon Good is just the highest integrity individual player that you could find.  For someone to do what she did undergrad to go to being accepted to med school, it's pretty amazing," said Lehotak. 

Intensity is a buzzword when talking about Good.  She is intense academically and on the field, and accomplishes goals. 

"I do like the word intensity for her.  Her time management is excellent, that's just who she is," added Lehotak.

Good is looking to help propel her team to an NCAA tournament berth in her final season at Penn State, and after winning seven of the last eight games, the team is looking to keep that momentum going.  As for Good, just like the team on the field, she is in great position to succeed in medicine going forward.  

@GOPSUSPORTS

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