|Follow PSU Softball:||Follow @PennStateSB|
Feb. 8, 2018
PENN STATE OPENS SEASON AT SAND DOLLAR CLASSIC
The 2018 Penn State softball team, under the direction of fifth year head coach Amanda Lehotak, will travel to Gulf Shores, Alabama where it will open its season at the Sand Dollar Classic Friday, Feb. 9-Sunday, Feb. 11. The Nittany Lions will have a big opening weekend as they take on two preseason ranked opponents in No. 11 Alabama and No. 14 Ole Miss. The Blue and White will also go up against Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Lipscomb.
NITTANY LIONS AGAINST WEEKEND OPPONENTS
Penn State has met up on the field with all five of its opponents after a change in schedule added Virginia Tech instead of Central Arkansas to the Blue and White slate. The Nittany Lions are 10-9 all-time against the weekend competition, having taken on No. 11 Alabama a total of seven times, while meeting up with Georgia Tech six times, Virginia Tech three times, No. 14 Ole Miss twice, and Lipscomb once. Most recently, the Blue and White notched two victories against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech in the 2017 Big Ten/ACC Challenge in Atlanta, Georgia. Penn State has also met up with Ole Miss during head coach Amanda Lehotak's tenure as the Nittany Lions fell in tightly contested games in the 2016 season in Oxford, Mississippi. The Nittany Lions will meet up with Lipscomb for the first time since the 2012 campaign and Alabama for the first time since 2005.
PENN STATE ROAD WARRIORS
The Nittany Lions will open their 2018 season with 20 road games before they play a home contest at Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field. The Blue and White participate in four road tournaments, kicking things off at the Sand Dollar Classic, Feb. 9-11. From there, Penn State will head to the Big Ten/ACC Challenge for the second-straight season where it will take on first-year team Duke as well as Virginia Tech, Feb. 16-18. Lehotak and her squad then travel back to familiar territory for the head coach as the Nittany Lions will play in the Jacksonville Tournament, Feb. 23-25. Finally, Penn State plays a single game against Texas A&M, March 6 and will play in the Houston Tournament, March 9-11.
Penn State will see a slew of representatives from several different conferences this season, taking on teams from 10 different leagues in 2018. The Nittany Lions will take on teams from the American Athletic Conference (UCF, Houston), Atlantic Coast Conference (Georgia Tech, Pitt, Virginia Tech), Atlantic Sun Conference (Jacksonville, Lipscomb), Big 12 (Iowa State), Colonial Athletic Conference (Hofstra, JMU), Mid-American Conference (Kent State), Northeast Conference (Robert Morris, Saint Francis), Patriot League (Bucknell), and Southeastern Conference (Alabama, Ole Miss, Texas A&M).
BLUE AND WHITE TO PLAY 24 HOME GAMES IN 2018
Penn State will play 24 of its 56 scheduled games insides the friendly confines of Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field. The home-heavy schedule will be a nice change for the Blue and White as it played only 15 of its 56 games at home in the 2017 campaign. Penn State will kick off its season with 20 away contests before opening its 2018 home campaign with a weekend series against non-conference opponent Kent State, March 16-18. The Nittany Lions hold a 61-59-1 overall record at Beard Field in its seven year existence which is good for a .504 winning percentage. Penn State will play 10 home contests in the month of March before taking on six opponents in 14 games in the month of April.
LEHOTAK BRINGS IN FIVE FRESHMEN FOR 2018
Head coach Amanda Lehotak brings in five fresh faces for the 2018 season. The 2018 freshman class includes: Dani Fey, Emily Hudgins, Erin Murray, Haley Vallejos, and Tori Hackenberg. The class consists of two infielders, one outfielder, one catcher, and one utility player.
MORE NEW FACES
Along with its five freshmen additions, Penn State has also added two transfers and two walk-ons. Junior Paige Johnson joins the Nittany Lions from Northwest Florida State, while Kennedy Legg is a mid-year transfer for Penn State from Ole Miss. Finally, sophomore Amanda Grieco and senior Ashton Mensinger walked on.
NEW SEASON, NEW LOOK
Penn State softball fans will see a new look on the field as it returns just four starters to its 2018 lineup. The Blue and White will see almost an entirely new infield, while senior Gianna Arrizurieta will return to the dirt in a variety of positions in her final season. The Nittany Lions will also have a new look in the outfield as Tori Dubois is the lone returner in left field. Finally, Penn State will look to veterans Jessica Cummings, Madison Shaffer and Madey Smith in the circle while also adding help from senior newcomer Ashton Mensinger.
TOUGH BIG TEN SCHEDULE
The Big Ten Conference has become one of the most competitive leagues in NCAA Division I softball as it has two teams represented in the preseason Top 25 Coaches Poll with Minnesota coming in at No. 16 and Michigan ranking No. 18. The B1G also has three teams receiving votes to kick off the 2018 campaign. The Nittany Lions will take on both Minnesota and Michigan in regular season contests, as well as Illinois and Ohio State, who are receiving votes.
10 NITTANY LIONS EARNS ACADEMIC ALL-BIG TEN HONORS IN 2017
The Penn State softball team had 10 student-athletes receive spring Academic All-Big Ten accolades following the 2017 winter semester. The returning honorees include: Gianna Arrizurieta, Jessica Cummings, Tori Dubois, and Madison Shaffer. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
ABRAMS INDUCTED INTO HIGH SCHOOL HALL OF FAME
Assistant softball coach Jennifer Abrams was inducted into the Reading High School Hall of Fame on Saturday, Nov. 18. Abrams earned 11 varsity letters at Reading High School with four in softball and ice hockey and three for field hockey, while captaining all three teams in her career. Upon graduation from Reading High School, Abrams earned a scholarship to Providence College, where she played both softball and field hockey. After completing her four-year softball career, Abrams used her fifth year of eligibility to play field hockey for the Friars.
HAEFELI JOINS STAFF AS VOLUNTEER ASSISTANT COACH
Sara Haefeli enters her first season as the volunteer assistant coach for the Penn State softball program after being hired in the summer of 2017.Haefeli spent two seasons coaching high school and club softball following her graduation from Seton Hall University. At Seton Hall, Haefeli was a four-year letter winner on the softball team where she holds the school record for single game home runs with three. Haefeli graduated from Seton Hall University in 2015 with a dual bachelor's degree from the Stillman School of Business in marketing and sport management, while earning a minor in English.
DIAZ NAMED DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Head coach Amanda Lehotak and the Penn State softball team announced the hiring of Christina Diaz as the first-ever Director of Softball Operations. Diaz moves into the director of operations position after working at Penn State as a Research & Evaluation Associate where she identified, selected and implemented evidence-based programs through the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness since 2014. She also assisted in the Navy Youth Sports and Fitness, Yellow Ribbon, Reintegration Program Thrive!, 5210 Healthy Military Children and 5210 Healthy Children, while leading the fall 2017 implementation of the 5210 health messaging campaign in the Keystone Central School District. Along with her job as a research & evaluation associate, Diaz has been the head coach of the varsity volleyball team at Bellefonte Area School District since 2014. Diaz also spent one year working as a student-athlete mentor at the Morgan Center
The Nittany Lions travel to Durham, North Carolina for their second appearance in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, Feb. 16-18. Penn State will go up against host Duke two times and also take on Virginia Tech twice.