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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Former high school softball all-conference honoree Ashton Mensinger came to Happy Valley with the game she loved as a mere afterthought. The current senior had no idea she would eventually become not only a Penn State student-athlete, but a valuable Nittany Lion pitcher in the circle. 

It all started Mensinger's sophomore year, when she decided to become the softball program's team manager. The supply chain and information systems major once again served as manager her junior year, marking a full two years that she was involved with the team. 

However, Mensinger was more than just your average team manager. She would pitch to the players as often as she could, whether it was during batting practice or throughout specific hitting drills. 

"I would throw in the cages a lot and I would throw front-toss and different things for the hitters," Mensinger said.

Head coach Amanda Lehotak, who noticed how Mensinger would take every opportunity to throw to the team's batters when serving as manager, talked about her transition from not playing softball for three years to pitching for the Nittany Lions. 

"We put it out that we were looking for managers and pitchers, because your pitchers can only throw so much and there's nothing like a live arm," Lehotak said. "She's been pitching for us for a year or two and this year with some injuries coming in, we knew we needed someone else and asked her to join the roster."

 "I don't think she believed me at first," Lehotak joked.

Mensinger reminisced about being told the news of a lifetime.

"All the coaches came in and sat down and asked if I would like to join the team," Mensinger remembered. "I didn't know what to expect. It was just crazy going from a manager to actually being on the team."

"I grew up watching softball and watching all these games on tv, especially Division 1 schools," Mensinger added. "I never thought that I would be on the field." 

For the Pennsylvania native and four-time high school softball letter winner, the process of transitioning to a player that coach Lehotak can turn to in times of need in the circle wasn't as hard as it seems.

"I love the competitive aspect of it and just being able to play. I don't really think I got nervous," she said about transitioning from a manager to an official Nittany Lion pitcher. "I feel like I was prepared and ready." 

"She's been a great addition to our team," Lehotak added.

With regards to her long journey to get the opportunity to wear the blue and white on the diamond, Mensinger didn't hesitate in crediting her teammates when asked about her favorite part of joining the program. 

"Just getting to travel with the team, getting to spend time with everybody on and off the field, and getting to know everybody," she said. "It's been really fun." 

Mesinger and the rest of the Nittany Lions will prepare to host in-conference Illinois for a three-game series this weekend at Beard Park. First pitch for game one is Friday at 8 p.m.

 

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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After being cut during Penn State's softball tryouts in the fall of her freshman year, Amanda Grieco spent the majority of her first year in Happy Valley playing for Penn State's club softball team. Fast forward a year and the now-sophomore once again attended the team's tryouts hoping to earn a spot in the program as a walk-on. 

Although Grieco admitted the second time around was another difficult week of practice, she got the news of a lifetime by head coach Amanda Lehotak and her staff - she made the team.

"It was just so surreal. It was awesome," Grieco said.

 "Another great walk-on," Lehotak said of her new sophomore infielder. "She tried out last year but we didn't take her because our roster size was pretty big, but luckily she came back this year. Her and Ashton (Messinger) have probably been two of the best things that have ever happened to us. (Grieco's) so appreciative to be here, and so badly wants to be here." 

Just making the team, however, wasn't enough for Grieco. Without a doubt, the nursing major has been a great addition on the field for the Blue and White. She's started a total of 28 games and is tied for first on the team in runs with 17 over the course of her first season. 

"I just think getting on base is really important in any way you can. It doesn't really matter how," Grieco said. "Scoring runs is the biggest aspect of the game."

"I just show up and work hard every day," Grieco added about her early success. "I think hard-work pays off."

Coach Lehotak has certainly noticed Grieco's hard work and drive that has helped her become an impact player in such a short amount time. 

"Her work ethic is amazing in the classroom and on the field," Lehotak commented. "And just who she is as a person, too. She's high character and will do anything for the team. A very selfless person, which is just so contagious." 

"Amanda's worked her way into the lineup. She's had a really good year for not playing for two years (since high school). If this is her baseline now, I can't imagine how much better she's going to be next year." 

Grieco credited the upperclassman on the team for helping to make her transition from a club player to a varsity starter easier.

"I think everybody's great, but all the seniors, Jess (Cummings), Gianna (Arrizurieta), Toni (Polk), Tori (Dubois), and (Madison Shaffer) have all been here for me since day one," Grieco said. 'It's be awesome."

 "When I was deciding if I wanted to join the team, the players were a big part of it. The players on the team helped me decide to say yes to coach," Gireco added. "They helped me a lot. I think if it was a different team I don't think I would've said yes. I played club and was really close with those people, so leaving them was hard. But I think my teammates here really confirmed my decision to say yes."  

Grieco will look to continue her good play on the field as her and the Nittany Lions prepare to take on Indiana for a three game road series this weekend.

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By Brian McLaughlin, Student Staff Writer GoPSUsports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions fell in both games of a doubleheader Wednesday night to St. Francis, but despite the outcome the team is looking to take away positives from players that stepped up at Beard Field. 

Here are some takeways from the home action. 

Player of the Day: Gianna Arrizurieta
Between the two games Penn State's senior starting shortstop went 2-for-4 with a double. After a slow start to the season, Arrizurieta is starting to hit her stride at the plate.

"Gianna really in the past couple weeks is getting better and better. To me it seems like she has hit her stride," Lehotak said. "Poor kid had 'At Em's Disease' where you hit it right at them for the first part of the season. Then you get frustrated so I think she has just relaxed. She is now playing the best ball she's played all year and is playing a great shortstop right now as well. Today she had some hard hit balls at her, like some real rockets that she made some great plays on so that's the beauty of experience right there." 

Quick Start
Penn State jumped off to a 1-0 lead in game one after Tori Dubois lead off the first inning with a hit by pitch and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Kennedy Legg. Dubois moved to third base on an infield single from Paige Johnson. With two outs in the inning Penn State executed a double steal to perfection, with Johnson taking second and Dubois scoring on the throw.

Scattered Hits
Penn State scattered 11 hits over the two games bringing in three runs to show for it. The Nittany Lions were one hit away from breaking the game open at times but never could find the big play to mount the comeback.

"We didn't have one big hit today and in the first game we really only had one hard hit," Lehotak said "We might've matched their hits on the day but we've got to hit the ball harder. I felt good about our preparation yesterday and today, and I'm not sure what the disconnect is but we're not doing it on game day right now but we need to figure it out." 

Outside of Arrizurieta's big day, Kennedy Legg added two hits and a solo home run in game two and Dubois had one hit in each game for Penn State.

The team will look to continue that preparation and translate it to gameday in the coming weeks.

Hackenberg's First Appearance
Tori Hackenberg made her Nittany Lion debut and had quite the cheering section with some of her high school teammates in attendance.

"I'm not totally sure what happened with that, but I heard through the grape vine that maybe her old high school was here," Lehotak said. "Hackenberg's been doing a good job, she was injured for a while and now she's finally healthy so we were just trying to get her at bat's going into the weekend just seeing what she can do since she's missed so much. I didn't put her in there because of her cheering section, I was surprised when I heard it but it was pretty cool to see." 

Penn State travels to Indiana this weekend before returning home next Wednesday to take on Bucknell.

Penn State Falls Short in Spartan Series Finale

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By Brian McLaughlin, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Big first innings for Michigan State doomed Penn State in both games of a double header Saturday. Michigan State took the first game, 7-1 and the second leg, 6-2 after scoring three first-inning runs in game one and four runs in the first frame of game two.

"I'm really disappointed in us today, head coach Amanda Lehotak said. "In game one we didn't show up early or at all until the second half. I think in game two we had a little more fight but we didn't make adjustments today and Michigan State did, so they won and we lost." 

The Nittany Lion offense was limited all day due the strong performance from Kristina Zalewski, who threw all 14 innings on the day for the Spartans. Tori Dubois was a bright spot for the Nittany Lions, constantly having the answer to Zalewski in the circle. 

Player of the Day: Tori Dubois
Most of the offense Penn State was able to produce came from Dubois, who earned her way to the leadoff spot this weekend. 

"What makes Tori special is that she just plays ball," Lehotak said. "Some hitters are really particular about four spot or three spot, but Tori just sees ball, hits ball and that's why she's really effective anywhere." 

Dubois registered the only two hits for Penn State in the first game of the day, including a solo home run while the rest of the offense struggled to adjust to Zalewski's pitching.

"My preparation going into the game (worked well)," Dubois said. "I do the same thing before every single game and the same thing in practice to I try to bring what I do in practice to the games,"

Dubois leads the Nittany Lions in most offensive categories including batting average and home runs. She has carried the offense recently with her consistent approach.

Pinch Hitting Success
Looking for a spark late in the first game, coach Lehotak inserted pinch hitter Christa Wagner who worked a walk to reach base for Dubois. 

In game two, Penn State was in a similar situation in the fourth inning and Paige Johnson entered the game for Destiny Weber and singled up the middle. This further emphasizes Lehotak's assessment that her team never gives up and fights to the end. The Nittany Lions were prepared to succeed right away off the bench.

In the sixth inning of game two, Penn State loaded the bases with nobody out on three straight hits. A fielder's choice helped them push across one run but were unable to add any more, stranding two runners.

"The (fighting attitude) is just the players. That's the attitude the bring," Lehotak said. "As you saw they had bases loaded no outs and that's a team that fights constantly late in the game. That's just something where it's who they are as people, so that's an area of the game I never have to worry about which is great because that's just so hard to motivate. They've taken that upon themselves and I think that's why they are so special and I praise them in that area. They could have quit many times today and they didn't."

Penn State returns to action Wednesday when Pennsylvania rival Saint Francis travels to Happy Valley for a double header.

Offense Leads Nittany Lions

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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions pushed across eight runs on 11 hits, defeating Big Ten opponent Michigan State Friday night in the first outing of this weekend's three-game series. 

The Nittany Lions knew going in that they would likely be set for another back-and-forth, high-scoring outing with the Spartans. True to history though, Penn State head coach Amanda Lehotak is proud of the fight she saw from the Nittany Lions.

"I liked how we held our emotions," Lehotak said. "I thought we had a lot of great answer innings. They scored right away, we bounced back right away. Both sides as you saw, historically, will throw different pitchers and I thought everybody kept their composure and did what they had to do.

Proud to see production from one through nine, Lehotak praised the Penn State hitting performance.

"Delaney [Elling] was excellent, Tori [Dubois] was excellent and Toni [Polk] was excellent,  so a lot of good things today," Lehotak said.

Offense by the Outfield
Penn State was led offensively by its three outfielders in Dubois, Polk and freshman Dani Fey. The trio combined for a total of five hits and five RBIs, so they came up huge for the Nittany Lions at the dish. After allowing three runs in the opening frame, Polk's two run triple to right field gave Penn State a 4-3 lead in the first. 

"It was huge," Lehotak said of Polk's big hit. "I think Toni's been a little frustrated lately so for her to have that and to be able to breathe a little bit was excellent. This is what Toni does. She was relaxed at the plate and looked calm. She had two huge at-bats for us tonight."

Dubois hit her sixth home run of the season as her long drive to left field in the fourth inning pushed the Penn State lead to 7-3.

"She's our best hitter and we wanted to get her a minimum of four at-bats but maybe five at-bats," Lehotak said. "We wanted to make them uncomfortable a little and make them pitch to her no matter what."

Dubois scored two runs as she set the table from the lead-off spot in the order.

"It's definitely different spot in the lineup but I liked leading off and providing a spark for the team," Dubois said. "I enjoyed leading off."

The right fielder Fey also had her share of success Friday, collecting an RBI on a base hit. Fey got on base twice from the eighth spot in the order, fueling the offense from the back end of the batting order. 

Cummings Closes it Out
Despite being taken out of the game after the third inning with just three runs allowed, Cummings was once again called upon to pitch in the fifth inning with the game on the line. The senior from Maryland did not disappoint. She worked out of a jam with runners in scoring position to end the fifth and only gave up one run (unearned) in the final 2.2 innings she pitched in relief as she helped lead the Nittany Lions to victory in the circle. 

What's Next?
The Nittany Lions and Spartans will conclude the series Saturday with a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. at Beard Field. 

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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With two outs in the seventh inning and Penn State trailing by a run in its March 28th matchup with Kent State, head coach Amanda Lehotak called upon a freshman off the bench to pinch hit with the game on the line. It was catcher Haley Vallejos, who represented the Nittany Lions' last chance to complete its comeback.

 Vallejos, after a long at-bat, calmly hit a line-drive single that led to the eventual game-tying wild-pitch just one batter later. Lehotak showed great confidence in her underclassman as she did not hesitate in choosing Vallejos to bat in crunch time.  

"Honestly, she's really great in those pressure situations," Lehotak said. "She broke up a no-hitter against Texas A&M and kept that inning going verses Kent State. She really excels in those positions." 

"As a pinch-hitter, I just try to take my best three cuts," Vallejos said. "I try not to think too much and I just try to keep my head clear and do what I do." 

Despite registering a total of six hits and two doubles so far on the season, including her great success as a pinch-hitter, Vallejos believes her strength as a player is defensively behind the dish.

"Probably my framing (of pitches) out of everything," Vallejos said when asked about what she believes is the best part of her game. "Also, my ability to call pitches, too." 

"I like being able to control the field and being able to go at my pace," she said about the being a catcher. 

 Lehotak is utilizing Vallejos' good defense and high IQ as a catcher, as she has not only appeared in 22 games there in her first season as a Nittany Lion but has also been the starting catcher in 14 of those games. 

"Haley's been a spot starter here and there. She's coming back from an injury, which kind of delayed her progress...We expect Haley, over the next four years that she is here, to be really special," Lehotak added. 

As for her transition from a four-year letterman in Chandler, Arizona to a being freshman playing in college softball's Big Ten Conference, Vallejos credits her teammates, especially senior infielder Gianna Arrizurieta. for making the process easier.

"I think every girl on the team has helped me tremendously in everything that we do, including school, softball, and my personal life," Vallejos said. "Everyone cares, so for me that helped a lot." 

"Probably Gianna because she is a role model on and off the field," Vallejos said when asked who she looks up to on the team. "She's just someone you can go to, no matter the age difference."

Vallejos and the rest of the Nittany Lions will host the Michigan State Spartans for a three-game series at Beard Field this weekend. Game one will begin Friday night at 6 p.m.

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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Tori Hackenberg showed up to Penn State softball's tryouts in the fall with hope and a dream of playing for the Blue and White. Although she worked hard and was determined to make the team, she was unsure if she did enough to beat out the other potential walk-ons to earn her spot on the roster. 

"Coming to tryouts, I didn't really know what to expect. I didn't know if I would make it or not," Hackenberg said. "I just knew I had to give it everything I had."

 That's exactly what she would do. Soon after tryouts ended, head coach Amanda Lehotak and her staff passed along the news of a lifetime: she was officially a Nittany Lion softball player. 

"It was absolutely a dream," Hackenberg said about cracking the team's roster. "I never thought that I'd ever be playing for Penn State. 

Hackenberg, along with sophomore Amanda Grieco, were the only student-athletes to successfully walk-on to the program this season. Lehotak talked about the work ethic of her newest freshman infielder Hackenberg. 

"We had walk-on tryouts in the fall and she came to the tryout and worked her butt off," Lehotak said. "She's a work ethic kid. Unfortunately, she got hurt in the second week and was out for a while, but she's working her way back in." 

Hackenberg, a Pennsylvania native who was a four-year letterman that won two state championships for Mifflinburg Area High School, made the decision out of high school that she would come to school in Happy Valley regardless if she had a spot on the softball team or not. 

"I'm really not that far away, but I never really envisioned myself being here until I came and visited the campus," Hackenberg added. "I said to myself: 'I absolutely have to be there whether I play softball or not.' " 

For Hackenberg, one added benefit of attending Penn State was its close proximity to her home in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, which is just over an hour from State College.

"It's great. I love that my parents can be here at every home game. I love that my friends come and support me," Hackenberg said. "It's just really great being so close." 

The veterinary and biomedical sciences major now has the best of both worlds - a school that is not only close to home, but one that gives her the opportunity to continue playing the game she loves.  Coach Lehotak talked about how great a fit Hackenberg is for Penn State.

"It's really fun to have a local kid that people can rally around," Lehotak said about Hackenberg. "She's doing great. She's seen more base-running time than anything. Her injury hindered some things she could do in practice, so she's still a little behind in that regard. It's great we finally have someone local to come in and scratch her way into the lineup for the next few years. "

As for her transition into collegiate softball, Hackenberg credits the upperclassmen for making the difficult process of walking-on easier for her.    

"I didn't know a lot coming in, especially being a walk-on. I didn't know the rules or know anything. I jumped right in and (the upperclassmen) helped me and taught me what I needed to know," she said.

When asked if she had someone in the program who she looks up to, Hackenberg didn't hesitate for a moment in stating her answer 

"Tori Dubois," Hackenberg said emphatically. "She's always there and if I do something wrong she's the first one to point it out. She's just always there for me." 

With her strong work ethic and a great role model in Dubois, the sky is the limit for the local product, and she is excited to see what the future in Happy Valley holds. 

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By Brian McLaughlin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Michigan jumped all over Penn State early and often on Sunday at Beard Field, scoring six runs in the second inning in route to a 11-1 win over the Nittany Lions.

"Slowly we are closing the gap, and maybe it doesn't feel like it right this second but I will re-watch it again tonight and see that," head coach Amanda Lehotak said. "We hit the ball well and to think from my first year we weren't even close. There is a gap being closed and it's not where we would like it to be but we are definitely getting there." 

Player of the Game: Tori Dubois 

Tori Dubois got Penn State on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning with a solo blast to left-center field. The home run was a no-doubter, and Dubois' fifth long ball of the year. She was the first batter Michigan reliever Sarah Schaefer faced on the day and just the second homerun Schaefer has given up all year. 

"For her (Dubois) she has been able to heat up and her resiliency and calmness at the plate have improved. As a junior now, so she's not getting beat on the same sequence any more. Yesterday she was frustrated because she felt like she got beat on the same sequence and knew what was coming," Lehotak said. "Today she was able to make that adjustment and that's the benefit of getting older and able to make that adjustment. I was happy for her to finally get one against them." 

Dubois raised her season batting average to .300 with the blast, finishing the day 1-for-2. She is also now leading the team in slugging percentage with .480.

Making Adjustments

"I thought Michigan made good adjustments, yesterday Madison (Shaffer) got them to chase more. Today they were ready for her, I'm assuming they knew we would go back to her. It's more that we really couldn't give them another look unfortunately right now. We have to rely on Shaffer and Jess (Cummings), and today she did enough to be effective not as great as yesterday. Her changeup was not quite as deadly, but Michigan did a really good job and they were ready."

In game two of the series on Saturday Shaffer shut down the Wolverines, hurling a shutout until the seventh inning. The Wolverines came out ready for Shaffer on Sunday, who also did not have the same electricity on her pitches. 

"We have a very quick turnaround going to Ohio State. Our biggest thing is for us is our defense. Our infield actually showed up this series especially in games two and three, so if our infield and defense can sustain where they are at is great," Lehotak added.  "Offensively we just have to find a way to put the ball in play more and find a way to take the changeup away early. We didn't take the changeup away at all against Michigan so we have to take that away to make them throw more of what we want."

Resiliency

Penn State's identity all season has been around never giving up and fighting until the last out, and the same was true on Sunday with the late homerun from Dubois.

"Obviously it was a tough day and we are disappointed we couldn't give them a better game. But the comeback is what they are all about, and always wanting to answer back. Whenever a team scores on us we always say, whether it's one or a hundred you have to get one to answer and they were just upset today that they weren't answering," Lehotak said.

Penn State returns to action on Wednesday when they travel to Ohio State for a doubleheader with the Buckeyes.

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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  Following a 14-2 loss in game one of the series, Penn State gave No. 17 Michigan all it could handle in game two Saturday afternoon. The Nittany Lions, led by junior pitcher Madison Shaffer, held the Wolverines' potent offense scoreless through the first six innings before Michigan hit a 2-run homerun in the 7th inning to break the 0-0 tie in a game that would finish 3-0 in favor of the Wolverines.

"I was really proud with how we bounced back (from game one)," head coach Amanda Lehotak said. "It's what we've done all year. We have such good kids. They're fighters and they will never quit for Penn State. I can't say enough about Maddy Shaffer right now. She had a great game - a full seven innings. She pitched well enough to win. I don't know if we've had a pitcher go a full seven like that since I've been here, so I'm very proud of her."

Player of the Game

Who else but Madison Shaffer? The Pennsylvania native was dominant in the circle Saturday, as she only allowed two hits in the first six innings and registered four strikeouts as well. Although she gave up three runs in the 7th, Shaffer kept the Nittany Lions in the game with one of the top teams in the nation. She made big pitches when she needed them most, including a strikeout to get out of a bases-loaded jam with Michigan rallying in the 5th inning.

"I felt confident," Shaffer said after arguably her best collegiate performance to date. "My team played really well behind me today. It was awesome watching them make plays and it really helped me, too."

"I'm so proud," Lehotak said when asked about holding one of the top offenses in the nation to zero runs through six innings. "These kids have been fighting all year and we've just had some back luck, especially for them to go out and do that (against Michigan)." 

Shaffer registers her second complete game of the season after going a full seven innings Saturday.

Weber's Web Gems

Penn State played great team defense throughout the first two games against Michigan and didn't register an error the entire second game. Sophomore Destiny Weber was great defensively at the hot corner, as she made big plays all weekend, including a crucial double play to get the Nittany Lions out of a jam in the second inning of game one.

 "She was lights out," Lehotak said about her third baseman. "We knew we had to make a big play defensively and we got two huge defensive moments. One was Weber's double play and the other was to get out of the bases-loaded ja early in the game with no outs. It really shows our emotional composure." 

"I (take a lot of pride in my defense)," Weber said postgame. "As a team, we all take pride in our defense and we work really hard on it. We always take a lot of reps, so as a team we live by the fundamentals and just staying calm." 

Weber also contributed offensively, as well, notching one of the Blue and White's three hits on Friday night. A hit that came against Meghan Beaubien, who is of the most dominant pitchers in the country, posting under a 1.00 ERA.

What's Next?

The three-game series will continue on Sunday as the Nittany Lions and Wolverines will lace up the spikes one more time at 1 p.m. at Beard Field.

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By Brian McLaughlin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Although Emily Hudgins, a freshman infielder for Penn State from Wadsworth, Illinois has yet to make an appearance for the Blue and White due to injury, the decision to attend Penn State was simple- with everything adding up to the perfect place for her college experience. 

"The academics, you can't really get much better than this, the facilities are amazing, the coaches are great, everything is just great," Hudgins said.

Hudgins is a secondary education major at University Park, having been impacted greatly by a psychology teacher in high school. She hopes one day to have a similar impact on students as a teacher herself. 

Since arriving on campus, Hudgins has proven herself to her teammates off the field by taking care of the little things in practice making an impact on everyone in the program.

"Emily is phenomenal. Just an awesome teammate and awesome person. Unfortunately, she's been out for the year due to an injury which has been kind of devastating for our team. I applaud her on how she's handled it mentally, how she's been engaged," head coach Amanda Lehotak said. "There's very few things she can do right now, but those few things she can do, she never takes a rep off and is always asking to work on the little things." 

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Every summer when the Penn State freshmen arrive on campus, it is the job of the upperclassmen to take the freshmen in and bond into a team. The groups always form differently, and some players connect closely with certain teammates.

 "The kids do a really great job and really kind of match up with the freshmen and they can ask an upperclassmen like Delaney and ask how to get to a class and the really help guide them. It's a pretty major adjustment period so they really help throughout that," Lehotak said. 

Hudgins provides further praise of the upperclassmen, adding that they have been instrumental in making the transition to college so easy. 

"The upperclassmen have been great coming in. They were all super welcoming and told us exactly what we need to do and answering questions before we even had then," Hudgins said. 

It is hard to watch games being out with an injury, but Hudgins believes she brings a lot of work ethic to the club, something she sees in many of the upperclassmen.

"Tori Dubois (Is someone I look up to). She works really hard every day and is a fierce competitor," Hudgins said.

Other players see the work ethic from Hudgins but also see an extreme attention to detail especially every day during practice. 

"When we are at practice the coaches watch the big picture and see how everything is going, but if you had something little you are working on and want someone to watch for it Emily is the person to ask," sophomore Delaney Elling said. "For example, working on leads and leaving early she is the person to ask to watch that. Emily is like the coach from a player standpoint, she is the player-coach of the team." 

Coach Lehotak sees similar strengths for Hudgins and appreciates all she does for the team in practice. When many players can lose focus on the team when injured Hudgins has thrown herself even farther into it.

"She is a great teammate and observes the game. Emily is a rare athlete where she loves the game so much she will do anything to be a part of it and just a great kid," Lehotak said. 

After splitting a doubleheader on Wednesday with Robert Morris, Penn State will head to Rutgers for its first road Big Ten matchup of the season. The team hopes to translate some of their recent home success to the road, having struggled away from Beard field so far this year. 

"This time of year it's kind of easy to prepare for compared to going into a tournament with five different teams. My staff and I have been watching film, and we play Rutgers every year relatively well," Lehotak said. "For us it's still going to be about Penn State, where we have to make sure we don't beat ourselves which I feel like has been the thorn in our sides. If we can take care of business do what we do well, we feel positive going into this weekend."

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