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Feb. 17, 2011
By Mark Wishnia, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - We're comfortable with each other: That is the unofficial motto of this year's Penn State softball team.
The team is returning almost everyone. The team had seven freshmen last year all of which had significant playing time. Now the team feels comfortable with each other and is ready to put up a successful season.
"This team needs to continue to improve and we need to get to the NCAA's this year and you know they're all motivated and they all have that in their sight, that's what we're shooting for," coach Robin Petrini said.
With that being said, here is a breakdown of positions for the Softball team this year.
Mary Ostman is the leader of the pack as the senior of the team. She started in 31 games last year. She posted a .247 batting average, hit one homerun, and drove in six runs. Last year was the most amount of games she has played in, in her Penn State career (44), and she with being the most experienced outfielder on the team, it should be expected to see her play even more.
Cassidy Bell is just a sophomore but started in 51 games last year and posted a team best .329 batting average while slugging one homerun and driving in 21 runs. Bell is happy with the team chemistry this year and expects improvement from last year.
"Most of the people are returning so everyone is comfortable with each other," Bell said. "So I expect nothing but better than last year."
Shannon Hutchinson is another sophomore outfielder for Penn State. She had limited playing time last year but coach Petrini has said in the past that she is one of the hardest workers. Petrini is known to change up the lineup a lot, and with just four outfielders listed on this year's roster, she should expect to have a bigger impact this year. Her impact last year was as a pinch runner, scoring six runs and stealing two bases. She was a four-year letter winner in High School and was the captain of her team.
Alyssa Sovereign rounds out the outfield. The California native has quickly netted the attention of head coach Robin Petrini who singled her out in an interview at practice on Wednesday.
"She just a fierce competitor and I think she's a good player, and I think she is going to contribute a lot this year," Petrini said of Sovereign.
Alyssa Renwick started all 51 games last year as a freshman and hopes to make another impact this season. Last year she finished with a .209 batting average while hitting one homerun and driving in three runs. She has a great arm at shortstop and posted a .951 fielding percentage last year.
Junior Morgan Long played in 41 games last year and proved to be a spark off the bench for the Nittany Lions serving a prominent role as a pinch hitter. She had a .269 batting average and drove in eight runs.
Expect Long to see a bit of a bigger role this year and make an impact if the team is slumping.
Sophomore Kailyn Johnson played in all 51 games last year and started 50 of them. She played well defensively at first base last year and posted a .269 average offensively with three homeruns and 20 RBI. With a year under her belt, expect a great breakout performance from Johnson.
Senior Desi Giordano played in 49 games last year, led the team with six homeruns, and she drove in 19 runs. She also plays a very solid defensive third base. After a standout year last year, and three years under her belt, she is expected to put up big numbers again this year.
Sophomore Lauren Rossi transitioned to second base last year after playing shortstop in High School and transitioned smoothly. She played in 40 games and hit three homeruns while driving in 20 runs and put up a solid .280 batting average. She is a big weapon off the bench and adds a lot of depth to the Nittany Lion infield.
Junior Ashley Todd has seen limited playing time at Penn State so far but has shown she could be a spark. Last April Todd had a pinch-hit RBI double against Iowa. Todd should provide depth off the bench this season.
Lauren Yao played in 38 games as a freshman last year and hit a homerun and drove in seven runs while posting a .204 batting average. Coach Petrini loves her instincts and quickness and Yao was clutch down the stretch last year. She also provides depth off the bench.
The Nittany Lions have four pitchers on the roster this year. Jackie Hill is looking forward to what the hurlers have to offer.
"I think we'll do well if we can battle through injuries and rough patches," Hill said. "We have three solid pitchers that are going to be able to work together and I think once we get started we'll be able to see how we can work together to complete games this weekend. So I think once we get started time will tell."
Redshirt senior Jackie Hill, ended the season at 14-14 last year and an ERA of 2.35. She also had 21 complete games. Hill has battled injuries but hopes to use her experience and power arm to shutdown opposing hitters this season. She also posted 16 RBI and one homerun offensively.
Junior Lisa Akamine finished last year at 14-8 and had an ERA of 2.92 while pitching 12 complete games. Akamine has great shutdown ability and has the experience to be a dominant presence on the mound this year. She is strong offensively as well. Last year she finished with 27 RBI one homerun, and a .267 batting average.
Jen Edsall is a junior but a new addition to the Nittany Lion squad. She is expected to have a lot of innings this year and add depth to the rotation. Edsall was named a USCAA National All-American First Team honoree, and a PSUAC Co-Player and Pitcher of the Year as well.
Freshman Jordan Wheatley is another new addition to the team who Petrini says is a great student of the game. She knows what it feels like to win being a member of four-time District and Regional Champions from 2007-10 at Troy High School.
Junior Danee Collett started all 51 games last year and showed her power with five homeruns, and 30 RBI. She had a batting average of .283.
"My expectations are that we do well, you know, win and make NCAA's and just be a competitor," Collett said of her hopes for this year.
"We've got a little deeper little deeper lineup, no one's concussed and we're all healthy and hopefully we'll keep it that way, "Collett said. "It's nice, we all work together, help each other out."
McNair did not play last year due to an injury and will hope to contribute more this season.
Hatfield is a proven winner being a part of four-time Florida district champions as well as winning the ASA Gold National Tournament with her summer travel program.
Presto is a student of the game and has a great throwing arm behind the plate.