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Penn State Softball Pitching Duo Combining Since Pre-Teen Days

At the heart of Penn State softball’s current run of form is the one-two punch of Kylee Lingenfelter and Bailey Parshall in the pitching circle. After two weeks in Florida for spring break, the pair combined for seven wins and three saves during a 10-2 stretch.

It wasn’t anything new for the freshmen duo — they’ve been backing each other up on the field since they were 12 years old.

Growing up, the two played alongside each other in travel ball for the Ohio Outlaws. Parshall, from Belle Vernon, PA, and Lingenfelter, from Punxsutawney, PA, also had a pair of showdowns against each other in high school.

Midway into their first collegiate seasons, it’s only been fitting that they have been stifling batters together for the Nittany Lions as they had throughout their youth.

“It’s kind of comforting knowing we were hand-in-hand in travel ball and now it’s like the same situation,” Parshall said. “In travel ball, we’d split games all the time because there were so many innings that had to be pitched. It works like a combo. We both back each other really nicely. It’s really working for us.”

It’s been a long time coming for Penn State softball. Parshall and Lingenfelter both committed to the Nittany Lions early on in their high school careers.

Coming from Penn State families, they have been locked in to the program even through its recent struggles — finishing near the bottom of the Big Ten in each of the last two seasons.

Photo: Mark Selders | Penn State Athletics

“I feel like we were recruiting them out of the womb pretty much,” head coach Amanda Lehotak said. “They’ve always been high character, hard working people. They were never not successful. Sometimes, with the early recruiting, you would see recruits peak, but they only got better and better.”

The duo has played a huge role in the team’s turnaround from last season.

Parshall, who has taken the bulk of the pitching duties for the team this season with nearly 80 innings across 20 appearances, has made an impact since her debut with a no-hit effort in four innings of work on opening day. Her 103 strikeouts have her ranked No. 24 in the nation and fourth in the Big Ten.

Lingenfelter, who’s second on the team with more than 40 innings pitched, emerged during that spring break trip with a 5-0 record and a save in her eight appearances.

Prior to Wednesday’s home opener against Robert Morris, the Nittany Lions have already surpassed their win total and more than tripled their non-conference victories from 2018. All but two of those wins have been awarded to Parshall and Lingenfelter.

“I think they’re doing a great job. My biggest thing that I’m most pleased about is their poise on the mound,” Lehotak said. “They’re going for it, they’re not afraid to fail, and they’re just attacking the zone. You know, usually you see freshmen and they’re a little afraid to do that and don’t buy into that kind of mindset.”

Even with the success they’ve had to start the year, it wasn’t a guarantee that the freshmen would be leading the charge so soon.

Lehotak said that the coaching staff hoped the situation would work out the way it did, but you never know with young players adjusting to the college game. Parshall even noted she didn’t perform the way she wanted to in the fall and had to make adjustments — namely mixing speeds with her change up — to be in position for the season.

“As a pitcher, it’s a lot different because you face a lot more competitive batters,” Parshall said. “In high school or travel ball, you’re just like alright, I’m just going to go in and throw this game. But now there’s so many more aspects — you can scout players, you know what to throw them, and you know what they like to hit. So it’s a lot more advanced than what we had in high school.”

The transition can be difficult on the field, but sometimes it’s even more so off the field.

At a northern school like Penn State, some spring sports alternate between campus during the week and southern weather viable for their games on the weekends. In softball’s case, that means shuttling back and forth between Happy Valley and Florida for the first half of the season.

The freshmen got to test out Beard Field during the fall schedule, and Lingenfelter did win a high school state championship at the stadium last June, but the seventh week of the season yields the first regular season opportunity for the duo to play in front of their home fans as Nittany Lions.

“I’m really excited because I know we have really good fans and really good support from everyone here, so it’ll be nice to play at our home field where we practice all the time rather than traveling and everything’s kind of hectic,” Lingenfelter said.

Whether or not the streak they’ve helped create continues as they return for State College spring, there’s a lot to look forward to with this young pitching staff.

“I’m just glad they picked Penn State,” Lehotak said. “They’re totally Penn State kids. Their families are Penn State all the way. It’s great to have two Pennsylvania kids representing their state. They’re just really good people and Penn State should be proud to have them.”

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About the Author

Steve Connelly

Unfortunately, former editor Steve Connelly has graduated. Where is he now? He might be doing something related to that PR degree he got in 2019. Maybe he finally opened that sports bar named after one of his photos, the Blurry Zamboni. Or he might just be eating chicken tenders and couch surfing. Anything’s possible. If you really want to know, follow him on Twitter @slc2o.

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