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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  Coming off a split vs. Kent State during the first two games of the series on Saturday, Penn State won Sunday afternoon after scoring seven runs in the final three innings and completing an improbable comeback. The Nittany Lions used a four-run bottom of the 7th to force extra innings before hitting a walk-off in the 9th.

"I'm really proud of my kids fight today, they never gave up," head coach Amanda Lehotak said. "I know it wasn't pretty in some areas of the game, but they continued to fight. It was good to see our offense rise to the occasion. We do fight, and we play hard, so it's good to see something go our way."

 The Blue and White set season highs in runs (11) and hits (14) and are now 2-1 since returning to Nittany Lion Softball Park. 

Here are some takeaways from the rubber match between the Nittany Lions and Golden Flashes. 

Clutch Hitting
Penn State's offense thrived in crunch time on Sunday. With two runners on and nobody out in the bottom of the 7th inning, junior outfielder Toni Polk hit a 3-run homerun to cut the Kent State lead to 8-7. Polk finished the contest with a team-high three hits and four RBIs.

"When Toni came up with the big homerun in that situation, it was awesome," Lehotak said. "That's kind of been what we've been waiting for all year. We've seen the clutch hitting in practice, but we finally got to see them relax and come through (in a game)."

 Polk wasn't the only Nittany Lion to come up big when the team needed it most. With two outs in the 7th and Penn State still down a run, freshman Haley Vallejos was called upon to pinch-hit, and came up with a crucial base hit. That led to the game-tying wild pitch shortly after.

"My favorite part of it is that we had clutch hitting all night," Lehotak added. "We had a huge pinch hit at bat by Haley Vallejos. For her to come in and do that is great." 

After both teams scored two runs in the 8th inning, Penn State once again got a clutch hit, this time by junior outfielder Tori Dubois. With freshman Dani Fey on second base after a leadoff double, Dubois lined a single to the outfield, scoring Fey and giving Penn State a well-deserved victory. 

"We knew as soon as we went down that we had the fight to come back," Dubois said. "We've been down a lot this year, so we knew what we had to do to get back."

Dubois added: "I think it's been a big weekend for us. We were home for the first time and everyone was hitting very well today. Everyone was producing, and we just went out there and had a good time." 

Patience at the Plate
After drawing a combined nine walks over the first two games of the series, Penn State once again showed its tremendous patience at the plate. The Nittany Lions drew nine more walks to go along with only one strikeout Sunday at the dish. 

"I think we're getting disciplined. We made some changes this week at practice and I think it worked," Lehotak said. "I think it was the most relaxed I've seen our offense. I felt like they settled in, while the first few weeks I feel like we were pressing. When you press you're not going to see the ball well and you're going to have high strikeouts. This was the first weekend I felt like they breathed and were more themselves."

 Golden Gloves
Although the team's offense got all the credit in the 11-10 victory, the Blue and White's fielding was also terrific. The team had no errors and came up with numerous big plays in the field, especially first basemen Delaney Elling. 

"Delaney definitely provides a lot of energy from first base," Dubois said.

Player of the Day- Tori Dubois
On top of her game-winning RBI single in the 9th, Dubois also added a double and a run scored to help set the table for Penn State's offense from the No. 2 spot in the batting order.

"All my teammates had been doing it all day, just punching home runners on base," Dubois said. "It was just kind of another at-bat and I knew that if I didn't get the job done the person behind me would." 

What's Next
Penn State will host Hofstra University at Beard Field for a two-game series this Wednesday. The double-header will kick-off at 5 p.m Wednesday evening.

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By Brian McLaughlin, Student Staff Writer GoPSUsports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State returned to Beard Field for the first time in 2018, battling its way to a split in a doubleheader with the Kent State Golden Flashes. The Nittany Lions fell in game one 6-5, falling just short on the comeback. The home team then took game two by the same score 6-5, holding on late fighting off a late Kent State rally.

"I love this team, I can't say that enough and you could see late they had the look on their faces like we're going to win," head coach Amada Lehotak said. We are still not relaxed in those moments I think because they get so excited. I think that's just youth and experience in those situations. They played a great second game and Jess (Cummings) did a great job and Shaffer pitched well all game."

 Here are some takeaways from the home opening day of games.

Home Sweet Home
The return home could not have come sooner for the Nittany Lions who started the season with 18 games on the road. The team played relaxed and felt comfortable in front of their home fans. 

"It's great to be back at Beard Field, you have no idea what it's like to be gone for so many games then come back home. We would like to thank our fans in what turned out to be a pretty nice day weather wise," Lehotak said. "I thought the kids played hard and I hope everyone got to see what we've been talking about away from home. We play hard, we fight, and we don't give up."

There was a definite energy for the Nittany Lions at home on Saturday, something the players fed off of.

"I love playing at home, there is nothing better than playing at home with our fans our friends and our family. The energy here is just so much better than anywhere else," first baseman Delaney Elling added. 

Patience is Key
The Nittany Lions worked deep counts in both games against Kent State, walking a total of nine times between the two games.

"As a whole our plan was to compete at the plate. When you compete you see more pitches alternately you see the ball better and that results in better hits," Elling said. 

Getting the Big Hit
Penn State's offense all season has struggled driving in runs, with the most runs scored in a game at six coming in. The team finally had some balls bounce its way with runners on base between the two games. 

"Last week against Iowa State we had two line drives right at people that would've tied the game or at least scored a run so in that situation we got the ball passed people today and found some holes," Lehotak said. "Sometimes you just can't get the big hit. Game one we couldn't get it, in game two we did. Just like always I loved our attitude and we didn't quit." 

On Saturday Elling delivered the first big hit in game two, driving a two-run home run over the left field wall for her first long-ball of the year. Destiny Weber and Dani Fey also delivered RBI doubles in the big fourth inning for Lions.

 Player of the Day- Delaney Elling
Elling's home run was just the beginning for her in game two.  She also hit an RBI single driving home Tori Dubois for an insurance run that proved to be the difference late in the game in the fifth inning. 

"It was great to have my first home run here at Beard Field, I didn't really have that experience last year," she said.  "I feel like I needed that and offensively we needed that as a team."

What's Next
Penn State returns to action on Sunday for the series finale against Kent State.

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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off a stretch of 18 games over the course of four tournaments to start out the year, Penn State will finally get the opportunity to suit up on its home field over the weekend. The Blue and White will most certainly be looking forward to returning home and playing at Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field for the first time this season. 

"It's amazing. I think it's what we need," head coach Amanda Lehotak said. "Just to come home and be in front of our fans, our people, our field and what we're familiar with. It's exactly what we need to get the ball rolling here in a real positive way."

Last weekend, Penn State played five hard-fought games in the Houston Tournament, which concluded the team's five-week out-of-state tournament schedule. With the student-athletes of the softball team yelling "We're home!" upon stepping off the bus at 4 a.m. Monday morning in Happy Valley, Lehotak could tell there was an increased sense of energy throughout the team. 

"You just get excited," Lehotak added. "We're entering phase two of our season and we finally get to play here at Beard Field. It's a renewing experience. It's nice to be in our facility and be the one everyone is cheering for." 

Although the reinvigorated Nittany Lions will hope to use this positivity and energy to improve their play on the field, being at home also means competing in the frigid and unpredictable Pennsylvania weather, something that creates the need to make adjustments after lacing up the spikes in mostly warm climates all winter. 

"Now that we're home, we're going to start playing in some really cold weather. Practice almost becomes maintenance," Lehotak said.  "It's about how their bodies are feeling and what they need. We'll do even more hitting and watch a lot more film. It will be about trying to keep the healthy kids healthy if we can."

Lehotak also talked about some of the challenges that come with having to practice and play games in the cold weather.

 "Just like anything, if it's cold you don't move well. The good thing is neither team moves well, but obviously after a while you're just not as fast in all areas," she noted. "You get stiff quicker. It's harder to recover the next day. Playing is fun, but it can be brutal." 

Rain, snow, or shine, however, the Nittany Lions are ready and eager to play. 

"Especially with a young team, we need to play. I think right now, if I had to pick between practice or playing, I want to play. We need experience, we need situational work."

"Everyone wants to win so it's frustrating. But it (playing hard) is the only way to get where we want to go," Lehotak continued. "I mean, their hearts are on their sleeves. I've never seen a teem with so much heart." 

The Nittany Lions will host the Kent State Golden Eagles to kick off their home slate this weekend. The three-game series will begin with a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  This past fall, Penn State set a new school record when 117 Nittany Lions were named Academic All-Big Ten for getting at least a 3.0 grade-point average. In recording record levels of academic achievement of late, Penn State student-athletes are making it a point of emphasis to strive not only on game day and in practice, but academically as well.

Junior infielder Meghan Williams, who is an engineering major, is a great example of a Nittany Lion student-athlete who takes pride in her work both on the field and in the classroom. Williams recently traveled to Iceland for a week to study abroad through Penn State's GREEN, or Global Renewable Energy Education Network, program, which provides students in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences the opportunity to study internationally.

"I applied through the GREEN program, so it was something I found through my college," Williams said. "They're all about sustainability and understanding energy and its best practices. It was something I was really interested in, so I applied and got accepted," Williams said. "I ended up going to Iceland to study at the Institute of Energy at Reykjavik University, and I studied there for a week and did some exploring." 

Head coach Amanda Lehotak talked about Williams' internship and how she believes all student-athletes should take advantage of Penn State's great opportunities and resources.

 "To me, it shows what Penn State can do for you as a student-athlete and all the amazing opportunities you have available," Lehotak said. "What I'm proud of Meghan and our kids for is that they seek out those opportunities and they take them. Penn State can give you a lot of chances but there are so many kids that don't take the opportunities when they can. We've been very blessed in our program that the kids have done that, sought it out, and gotten great experiences from it." 

Williams noted that beyond the GREEN program itself, she had some of those great life experiences while in Iceland.  

"The people I met were completely amazing," Williams said. "I got the opportunity to hike a glacier, so that was a lot of fun." 

Williams added: "We also went up to one of the natural hot springs and it was great." 

Williams, a Bethlehem, Pennsylvania native, talked about balancing her softball schedule and rigorous academic schedule.

"It's tough, but it's doable. I've been doing it for three years now" Williams said. "There's two other engineers on the team, as well, so we make it work together. We study all day, every day, including in between class and while we're eating. It gets tough but you always find a way because I'm so passionate about both softball and engineering."

Coming off games against Texas A&M and Lamar earlier this week. Williams and the rest of Penn State's softball team will look forward to playing in the five game Houston Tournament from Friday to Sunday this weekend.

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By Brian McLaughlin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Since arriving on campus as a freshman, Penn State pitcher Jess Cummings has not been able to truly be herself because of constant injuries.

Cummings has always been one of the most talented pitchers on the Penn State roster, but she has never had a full season without some sort of injury issue. The injuries have always been cloudy, and have mounted over time, but she has battled through them to get to where she is now. 

"I've been really lucky with our coaching staff and how they've helped me. I've said before if I was at other schools I wouldn't still even be playing. They've let me deal with my struggles and work through the injuries," Cummings said. "They have always trusted me to be honest and know my body, so that's given me the opportunity to work through stuff. We as a team are a fantastic family so I have just been blessed with a great environment with people who have supported me through everything." 

Nittany Lions head coach Amanda Lehotak has seen for herself all the difficulties Cummings has gone through, and has gained so much respect for the way she has handled it all. 

"Jess is really one of the strongest people on our team, her pain threshold is phenomenal. All she has always wanted to do is play ball and she loves the game, and she loves playing for Penn State with her teammates," Lehotak said. "I look at her and I'm in awe of her courage and her resiliency. Nobody really knows her full story with the injuries besides her and a few select people. It's inspiring." 

As a freshman, Cummings threw her career-high in innings, crossing the century mark tossing 119 frames throughout the season. She played through the struggles on the mound and some initial bumps and bruises but would never be fully healthy. After throwing just 19 innings her sophomore year and 45 during the junior campaign, Cummings hopes to be able to put it all together in her final year at Penn State.

"She's definitely getting better early on this year. She will tell you it doesn't matter, I will tell you that it does, she hasn't pitched a full season. As a senior she kind of has what you do in the beginning of the season figured out, but she's never really had much beyond that," Lehotak said. "She's learning week in and week out in the early weeks of her senior year and never had a normal freshman, sophomore or junior year. So I'm very proud of her. When she came in against JMU (James Madison University), she was really back to her weekend one self, attacking with confidence, her body language was great so I was very pleased with that." 

So far in 2018 Cummings has appeared in all 11 games for Penn State and started seven of them. She has already surpassed her innings total from her sophomore year, and hopes to keep pitching consistent innings. Against James Madison, Cummings threw three scoreless innings and had four strikeouts and feels she is really pitching at a high level. 

"I feel great on the mound and loving every minute of it. Our pitching staff are my favorite people and really my favorite group that I've ever been a part of and a really great environment," Cummings said "I just love to pitch as much as possible and I don't think there's anything more to it than that."

Overall the Nittany Lions have struggled so far, going 1-10 through the first few weeks. Lehotak thinks there could be improvements, but likes what she sees.

"For our pitching we need to limit our walks, we still have way too many walks and giving too many free chances. We have figured out our infield now and playing much better ball there. Our energy and effort has been there," Lehotak said. "We are learning a lot, and everyone wants to win, but I like where we are at for this point in the season."

As the season continues, Lehotak will keep close tabs on Cummings health, but trusts her to handle herself and know her limits. Cummings knows she has come a long way and had an unorthodox journey, but might be better off for it.

"In terms of mental toughness I have definitely become a stronger player. My freshman year, I really struggled a lot both as a pitcher but then the mental side of being injured. So figuring out how to play when you don't feel great is something everyone deals with, but how to perform well through that has given me a great appreciation for what I'm doing. The more grateful and appreciative you are through anything the stronger you will come out the other side."

Softball's Toni Polk Talks Black History Month

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Throughout the entire month of February, Penn State Athletics is proudly sharing the stories of its student-athletes and coaches who have shaped Nittany Lion history. 

A junior on the softball team, Toni Polk had no trouble deciding that Penn State was the place for her. Drawn to Happy Valley for elite athletics, the academic opportunities meant just as much in the decision-making process. 

"I chose Penn State because of the education. The engineering program here is amazing and there are so many opportunities just research-wise and alumni networking-wise that are so important for me and what I want to do with my life," Polk said. 

When Polk thinks about Black History Month though, she thinks about those who came before her who paved the way for the opportunities she is able to take advantage of. 

"When I think about Black History Month I think about all the people who have come before me and have given me the opportunity to be in this position," Polk said. 

In the third of a multi-part video series, hear from Polk as she shares her story. 

Click here for more Black History Month Coverage. 

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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off the Big Ten/ACC Challenge last weekend in North Carolina, Penn State will now travel to Jacksonville, Florida to compete in the JU Tournament.

For two Nittany Lion coaches, the Jacksonville University tournament will not only serve as an important five game weekend for a Penn State team looking to gain early season momentum, but also a trip down memory lane. 

Head coach Amanda Lehotak and assistant coach Sarah Sigrest were both involved in Jacksonville's softball program for years before coming to Penn State, and the duo was instrumental in the team's sudden success.

Lehotak, who served as the program's head coach for five years and was awarded the Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year in 2011 after leading the Dolphins to their first ever NCAA tournament appearance, is always grateful for the chance she was given when she was hired to be head coach after serving just one season as the team's assistant coach. 

"I had a boss when I was the assistant at Jacksonville who believed in my passion for the game, and he gave me an opportunity," Lehotak mentioned.

"I will always be appreciative of Jacksonville because they gave me my first opportunity, so in a weird way it's almost like going home," Lehotak said. "I'm always fortunate to have that as part of my history. I love Jacksonville University and I still talk to a lot of people there. It's great to be able to go back and remember where you came from." 

Despite leaving JU with a school record 137 wins, Lehotak owes some of her success to Sigrest, who was her star pitcher from 2009-2012. The Alabama native was a four-year starter on the mound and left JU as the program's all-time leader in six categories, including wins, strikeouts, and innings pitched. 

"We helped turn the program around there and Coach (Sigrest) was a big part of that," Lehotak said.

Sigrest, who Penn State hired in August of 2015 to work with the team's pitchers and to assist with recruiting, talked about returning to her alma mater. 

"It's nostalgic to be back on that field," Sigrest said. "Obviously I'm not playing, but it's still cool to see it, even on a different side of things." 

As for the 2018 Nittany Lions, both Sigrest and Lehotak are moving forward and looking ahead despite the lack of victories early in the year. 

"I'm really excited for this tournament," Sigrest said. "It's a really big tournament for us because we need to win. JU always plays us really tough and they're a lot like us in a lot of ways. It should be a fun and exciting weekend." 

Lehotak echoed the optimistic message of the former Atlantic Conference Pitcher of the Year and drew positives from the Blue and White's play last weekend.

"I like our fight, I like our focus, and I really like us," Lehotak said. "I know the wins are not showing the progression, but we are progressing and I like where we're at."

"Our offense finally showed up and we put up some really good numbers," Lehotak added. "Obviously if you look at how many runners we left on base, we're not doing a great job of getting them in right now, but we will. We've improved immensely from week one, both defensively and offensively."

Penn State will look to turn its fortunes around as they play the University of Central Florida (UCF) Friday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. to kickoff the JU tournament.

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By Brian McLaughlin, Student Staff Writer GoPSUsports.com
UNIVERSTIY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State softball team opened its 2018 campaign last week on a trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama. Though they dropped the two games they played, one to the Alabama Crimson Tide and the other to the Virginia Tech Hokies, and the remaining three games of the road trip were cancelled due to inclement weather, the team still took away positives from the trip. 

The team returned to State College following the road trip and had their preseason media day, here are some takeaways.

 1.     Coach Amanda Lehotak was pleased with first two games

"Opening weekend was disappointing only in the fact that they had more rain in three days than they've had in 32 years according to their local news," Lehotak said.

 The Lions were scheduled to play Ole Miss, Georgia Tech and Lipscomb after their first two games, but had all three rained out.

"In the softball we did play I really liked what I saw, loved the attitude and the energy from our team. The attitude we brought was great and makes me really excited for this year," Lehotak said. "We still have 54 games left, it's about getting better every weekend and not about winning a national championship opening weekend." 

2.     Solid pitching kept it close against Virginia Tech

Jessica Cummings started both games for the Nittany Lions and went seven and a third innings total surrendering five earned runs and eight total on the weekend.  The Virginia Tech game saw her hold the Hokies scoreless in six of the game's seven innings. 

"Jess Cummings was stellar for us against Virginia Tech. She got really big for us at a few different moments," Lehotak said. "She had a great weekend overall and really kept Alabama off balance. For her mental stability to stay calm and to come back after the tough loss to Alabama and pitch well against Virginia tech shows where she is at mentally." 

3.     Dr. Ohlson making an impact with the team

This August Penn State athletics welcomed Dr. Carl Ohlson as its assistant athletic director for performance psychology services. Ohlson has been especially instrumental for the softball program, while also working with all the other teams within the athletic department. His main objective with the program is developing and executing innovative strategies to maximize the athletic performance and general well-being of Penn State's 800 student-athletes.

"Dr. Ohlson does a great job at doing team work and individual work. Right before we left he actually asked all of us what our greatest fear was going into the first game." sophomore Destiny Weber said. "By recognizing and addressing our fear we realized it really wasn't a fear and we could go forward confidently and try to get a W."

 Ohlson has not only helped the players, but works with the coaching staff as well, and has given some new perspective for Lehotak.

"His ability to touch the coaching staff and bring everyone together on the same language and the same page is huge," Lehotak said. "His ability to give us a common language has been instrumental for us and other teams as well." 

4.     Preparing for Big Ten/ACC Challenge

"We had a really good fight against Virginia Tech in the second game and are excited to play them again this weekend," Lehotak said.

Outside of a Virginia Tech rematch, the Nittany Lions will also take on the Duke Blue Devils in their program's inaugural season, in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Blue Devils finished 2-3 in their first weekend of play, while Virginia Tech is 3-2 on the young season.    

5.     Doesn't matter, get better

Penn State is coming into this year with the attitude that no matter what happens on the field the goal is to improve every time they are on the diamond. They feel this is the best way to have success and the best attitude throughout the long season. 

"It is a lot of fun to play for Penn State and we take a lot of pride wearing Penn State across our chest. When you put on the blue and white uniform, it is easy to focus in on what we need to do because we know what we are playing for," Weber said. "We focus on getting better each day and each game, which will come with taking things one pitch at a time."

The Nittany Lions will look to use that attitude for not only success this weekend, but in weeks to come. 

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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. Penn State softball will travel to Gulf Shores, Alabama to compete in the Sand Dollar Classic to open its season this weekend. The Nittany Lions will play five games over the course of the three-day tournament, including doubleheaders on both Friday and Saturday.

One of the weekend's games is against No. 15 Ole Miss, which comes with an increased sense of importance for one Nittany Lion.  Sophomore catcher Kennedy Legg will not only be playing in her first weekend for the Blue and White, but she will be doing so against her former team.

Legg, who committed to play for the Rebels coming out of high school in Keller, Texas, made the decision to transfer to Penn State after her freshman year.

"I visited the (Penn State) campus before I committed to Ole Miss, so when I decided I was going to transfer, my first thought was Penn State," Legg said. "I talked to coach Tek here and it seemed like a great fit."

Legg credited her Nittany Lion teammates for making the difficult process of transferring schools considerably easier for her.

"When I got back on campus and met all the girls, I just fell in love," Legg added.

Head coach Amanda Lehotak noticed how well Legg has fit into Penn State's program.

"Kennedy's done a great job," Lehotak said. "Transferring is a really hard thing to do if you've never done it."

"I've never seen someone come in and fit in so well right away," she added.  "The team took her in as one of their own."

As a freshman at Ole Miss, Legg hit .286 over 12 games despite being used mainly as a pinch hitter and pinch runner. She now has the golden opportunity of getting to defeat her old team.

 

"Part of me wants to prove them wrong," Legg said. "Either way, win or lose, I'm happy with the choice I made."

The pre-med major looks for an increased role on a Penn State team that is welcoming eight other newcomers to the program this year. With a full season of experience in the Southeastern conference under her belt, she hopes to provide leadership for a rather young squad.

"I feel like I can bring a sense of leadership to the team," Legg said.

"She fits exactly what we expect out of an athlete academically, athletically, and in the community," Lehotak said. "She's provided a tremendous boost to our moral, our team, and our culture."

Lehotak will look for Legg, along with the team's seven other underclassman, to fill the holes left by losing five starters from last season. That new group has made an immediate impact.

"The dynamic has been awesome," Lehotak said. "At this point in the year, we feel like they have always been with us. All the kids who have come in have shown great work ethic."

Penn State will open the season vs. No. 11 Alabama Friday at 12 p.m. followed by a matchup with Virginia Tech later in the day.  The Nittany Lions will square off against Ole Miss and Legg's former teammates Saturday at 1 p.m. in their third game of the regular season.

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By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the regular season begins to wind down, the Penn State softball team must prepare to say goodbye to another class of graduates. The Class of 2017 marks the first group to play for head coach Amanda Lehotak all four years. They come from every corner of the country and are looking to leave Happy Valley on a high note. 

Kristina Brackpool
The first baseman out of Valencia, California has started 169 games in her career as a Nittany Lion. She has been an anchor at first base the past three years and currently has a .289 batting average on the season. Coming to State College from the other side of the country requires a lot of travel, but that's exactly what Brackpool loves to do with her team. 

"My favorite memory is travelling all across the country and seeing how big our fan base is," Brackpool. "There's so many Penn Staters all over the country and no matter where we go, whether it's Texas or Seattle or Colorado, there's Penn Staters everywhere."

Brackpool will not be graduating this May and is instead staying for a fifth year. However, she'll still be involved with the softball program as an assistant to Lehotak for next season. Once she completes her degree next spring, Brackpool plans to go to medical school.

Jess Haug
Haug has only been a Nittany Lion for the last two seasons, when she transferred to Penn State after playing at Temple for one year. She also played basketball at Penn State Abington for a year. When she got to Happy Valley for her junior year, she walked on to the team, which has been her favorite memory in a blue and white uniform so far.

"My favorite memory was last year when I transferred here and ended up walking on to the team," Haug said. "Coach Tek gave me a chance and it ended up working out so I'm always appreciative and thankful for that opportunity."

As of now, Haug doesn't have anything lined up for post-graduation, but she plans on enjoying the summer while she continues to look for jobs.

 

Marlaina Laubach
Laubach has been a force on the pitching mound this season, and for much of her career as well. She's Lehotak's go-to pitcher and leads the pitching staff in innings played. From Northampton, Pennsylvania, she heads towards the final stretch of her career with a 3.49 ERA and 318 strikeouts. 

"Playing for coach Tek has actually been really fun, she has been pretty much my biggest advocate in my four years here," Laubach said. "She's always held me to a high standard and I really appreciate that so I'm successful because of her." 

Laubach, a psychology major, doesn't have any definite plans lined up for after graduation but hopes to enjoy the summer before she has to take her GREs for grad school.

 Shelby Miller
Miller came to Penn State from Sugar Land, Texas and has been a trusty hitter ever since arriving at Beard Field. Her career batting average* sits at .319 and sits in second place on the career RBI list with 118. Since arriving on campus four years ago, her favorite memory is when the team travelled to Texas to play and she got to show her teammates her home.

"My favorite memory from Penn State softball is when we went to Texas because I'm from Texas and I got to show everybody what Texas is about and the Texas food that I miss so much," Miller said.

Miller currently doesn't have anything lined up for after graduation, but she plans to take a year off and then apply for grad school so that she can hopefully become a physical therapist.

Mia Monopoli
The graduating redshirt junior catcher has played in 65 career games as a Nittany Lion, including 37 games and 25 starts in 2017.  Monopoli is hitting .206 this season with four doubles and five runs batted in.  Heading into her final home series, she has had some great moments in the Blue and White.  

"My favorite Penn State softball memory was getting to start the first home game my first year here," she said.  "It was such an honor to me, I've never smiled bigger.  Seeing my name on that big screen was worth every blood, sweat, and tear that ever went into my training" 

Following graduating the California native will be heading home to work in her hometown area of San Francisco, and there are she will be taking lessons from the diamond to her next path. 

"I have countless lessons that I will take away from softball but mainly I will take away how much a positive attitude can do for you," Monopoli said. 

 "You have to appreciate and respect the whole process," she added.  "And that goes for any job or passion!" 

Sam Shanahan
Shanahan has gone back and forth as right fielder and DP this season, and has succeeded at both. The Seattle, Washington native has played in 42 games this season, which are the most games in a season in her career. As she looks ahead to the future, Shanahan is looking to take the lessons she learned from softball with her in the real world. 

"The one thing I'll take from softball is you have to put in the hard work everyday to get the results," Shanahan said. "I definitely have understood what hard work takes and I definitely will take that into my future."

Shanahan plans on going to grad school after graduation so that she can one day become a registered dietitian.

Student Managers
Penn State softball also has two student managers that are graduating. Alex Comonitski and Jon Herzing have both been managers for three years, with Comonitski starting her freshman year and Herzing started his sophomore year. Comonitski took a year off when she studied abroad her junior year. 

After playing softball in high school and fielding some offers from small Division 1 schools, Comonitski came into Penn State hoping to be involved with the program somehow. 

"I knew that Coach Tek was new so I started emailing the secretary and I asked if they needed help in any capacity in the office or anything so that I could get involved somehow," Comonitski said. "And luckily because [Lehotak] was new and she had a whole new staff and needed student managers so I've been doing it ever since." 

Herzing originally worked for the grounds crew at Beard Field and when the team was looking for a new manager his sophomore year, he thought it would be a good opportunity.

"I think it's just the collective experience of all the people I've met and the experiences I've gotten to have, like travelling with the team," Herzing said. "I've gotten to see a lot of great places and I've really made a lot of good friends on all these trips and from being around the team." 

Senior Day will take place when the Nittany Lions conclude the regular season with a home series against No. 4 Minnesota. The six graduates will be honored before the series finale on Sunday, May 7 at 1 p.m.

@GOPSUSPORTS

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