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Final Session of Spring Sports Media Day Hosted by Penn State Athletics

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Feb. 13, 2018


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Three of four programs that met with the media on Tuesday (Feb. 13) have already begun their seasons, as the final session of Spring Sports Media Day took place inside of Pegula Ice Arena. Coaches and student-athletes from four different programs met with the media to talk about their upcoming, or ongoing, campaigns.

The programs represented were baseball, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and softball, with selected quotes from head coaches and student-athletes found below.

A full recap of the day can be found by clicking here.

Baseball
“Obviously, as a team, we did not have a year [last season] that we feel was acceptable for Penn State baseball. Over the course of the last 10 months, we’ve done a lot of thinking about it and looking back on it, and the truth is, is that as a coaching staff, we didn’t do a good enough job for these guys. But I’m real excited about what these guys have put forth this fall. I’m excited about our coaching staff. I’m excited about the effort we’ve all put in together, and I think everybody is going to be real excited to see what kind of team we can put out there this year.”
Head coach Rob Cooper

“I’m excited about the upcoming year. I’m excited to get going. Probably have had more fun in the fall coaching this group of guys, than I have had in a long time. I’m excited to see where this journey goes with these guys and I’m excited about the prospects of what they can do.”
Head coach Rob Cooper

“I can tell you in my opinion it is the deepest [pitching] staff we’ve had since we’ve been here. Justin [Hagenman] is going to pitch Friday night – and when I say this, this is a compliment to Justin and the other guys - but there isn’t a large difference between him and the guy who is maybe in that sixth spot. We have deep depth on the mound and Justin’s going to go Friday, Taylor Lehman is going to go Saturday and Dante Biasi will go Sunday.”
Head coach Rob Cooper

“Towards the end of last season, we were struggling and a couple of us got together with Coach Cooper about ways we could change our daily routine and change the way we were doing things. There were four things that we thought we, as players, could do to change things: compete, toughness, selflessness and accountability. Those four things became how we set the tone for our offseason and fall. Everyone has taken them serious and really bought in to what we want to accomplish. That attitude has helped us get to the point we are right now and we’ve seen growth leading up to [the opening weekend].”
Junior Justin Hagenman

“Mac [Hippenhammer] works really hard and comes to the park every day ready to work. He brings a fun energy to our team and we really enjoy that. For him to come in, after not playing since his high school season last year, and jump in like he hasn’t missed a beat is really awesome to see. He hasn’t missed a beat [in terms of baseball skill] and he really brings good energy to our program.”
Junior Ryan Sloniger

“We go against one another a lot from fall ball up through winter workouts, so we are really ready to see and compete against a different uniform. We have put last year behind us mentally, but for the returning guys that [the results] is something we want to change as this year starts.”
Junior Ryan Sloniger

Softball
“We are excited to kick off the 2018 season. Opening weekend was disappointing only in the fact that they had more rain in three days than they had in 32 years according to their local news. It was a long way to travel to play four hours of softball. It is kind of like we are re-going into opening weekend this weekend. For only having one returner in the field in the same spot, a lot of good things on one day of softball. All year behind closed doors we have talked about how they are just slow and steady. They are slow and steady getting better. I liked what I saw, I liked the fight, and I liked how they played. I loved the attitude and I am really excited for this year.”
Head coach Amanda Lehotak

“[Jessica Cummings] was stellar. I think she came out and got kind of big in a few moments, where she kind of pressed. She had a great weekend. She really kept Alabama off-balance. She had one missed pitch that was hit really hard and that is what really good teams do, they capitalize. You have to tip your hat to Alabama.”
Head coach Amanda Lehotak

“It is just that balance of that this team wants it so bad they can’t see straight and everybody wants it so bad that when they have that moment of staying relaxed and understanding just do what you do, that’s how you got here versus trying to get really big and get out of their comfort zone. Once they mentally figure out how to realize there is a runner at three and they stay relaxed, that is when you are going to see the huge jump in success. They are getting close, I think Dr. Ohlson is a big part of that to help us work through those emotions. In those 12 innings with that small sample size, I am very pleased. My favorite thing about this group, any challenge or adversity they have faced throughout the year, they have come out stronger and better. Like I’ve said, I’ve never seen a team that slowly gets better and better, and if they keep doing that I believe they are going to have the season that they want to have.”
Head coach Amanda Lehotak

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

“Dr. Ohlson has brought some nice things to our program. At the start of the year he started working with us on breathing exercises to help control our heart rates. For me, that was a really nice thing, because I have a tendency to get my heart rate going when I am really excited. It was nice to have a go-to [technique] and a routine to help me control that when my heartrate goes up.”
Junior Toni Polk

Men’s Tennis
“They do a good job. Both Constant [De La Bassetiere] and Ben [Lieb] as captains that they lead a lot by example. They're both great students. So when they're on the court they're all business, when they're off the court they're all business with their academics. They balance academics and tennis very well, their athletic endeavors very well.”
Head coach Jeff Zinn

“I think being at home is great. You're used to your surroundings and everything but you actually become closer as a team when you're on the road. We're together 24/7. Even though we didn't do what we wanted to do this weekend, I still think we all get along very well, coaching staff and players. We talk through a lot of issues, we know we're close. And then hopefully by us being on the road and then we do come home and then go back on the road again. We're on the road again and then spring break so we've got to pick up the momentum and confidence while we're on the road to bring it back home before we start the Big Ten season because ultimately that's what we're playing for - to win the Big Ten conference.”
Head coach Jeff Zinn

“It [players from multiple countries] could be catastrophic because you have guys from all over and different personalities, different cultures, different languages but for us, it's actually turned out great. If you want you can use our team as a melting pot that does get along very well. You could use our team. Our guys love each other, they play hard for each other. It's almost like we talk about different things that go on in the countries and it's quite educational for the guys. I mean we learn quite a bit, as an old coach I learn quite a bit. We have a guy from Turkey now and we learned a lot about Turkey and how big it is. It's fascinating. So from that aspect it truly is educational.”
Head coach Jeff Zinn

“One thing I picked up from the last two years was probably Matt Barry’s attitude on the court. He was a warrior. When he got on the court something happened [to him]. You could see when he was on the court he was going to compete. That is something i try to show our younger guys. It is completely different from juniors [tennis], so I am just trying to show the way for them being one of the leaders on this team.”
Junior Constant De La Bassetiere

“Coming to the United State and playing college tennis is completely different [than playing internationally]. You are playing for your teammates, your university and everyone here at Penn State. Once you get used to that, it is awesome. It is a special feeling to know you are playing for something bigger than just yourself or your [personal] coach.”
Junior Constant De La Bassetiere

Women’s Tennis
“I think in some areas, we are ahead of schedule. Out of the 11 members of our team, five are freshman, so we have a younger group. In some ways, you can see us getting better every day, which is something we are stressing with the team.”
Head coach Chris Cagle
“When you get into coaching, there are a lot of different aspects to it. The on-court part and making your players better is probably the most enjoyable part. We’re working hard every day, there are some areas that I know we’ll be even better at this weekend at Pitt.”
Head coach Chris Cagle

“Tennis is such an international sport. You think about the Australian open that just happened, you see players from all over the world. A lot of our players, even the American players, have traveled abroad and are used to different cultures and having friends from different countries.”
Head coach Chris Cagle

“Team dynamic is huge in tennis and we all get along really well. To see how many people we have from different areas is kind of neat. I don’t think any of us are from the same area, so it is neat to mesh with some many different people. It can be different when you first get to school...Everyone has different perspectives and experiences. With our girls from Europe, they have experienced different things that what I might have experienced growing up in Florida.”
Senior Bennett Dunn

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