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Penn State Softball Preview: Young Team Hopes To Improve From Last Season

Penn State softball is almost back and is trying to build off its record from last year, where the Nittany Lions went 24-32, their highest win total since 2016.

Despite the departure of Toni Polk, the all-star senior outfielder who started all 56 games and led the team in batting average, a lot of young playmakers who can turn this group into a competitive team remain.

Coach Amanda Lehotak enters her seventh season at Penn State and continues to try to improve off her previous seasons. She has talented sophomores like infielder Chelsea Bisi and outfielder Melina Livingston, who each had great freshmen campaigns.

Catcher Kennedy Legg, a redshirt junior who sat out last season due to injury, will make her return as well, providing an experienced boost to the lineup.

In the circle, sophomores Kylee Lingenfelter and Bailey Parshall hope to build off of what they started last season. Lingenfelter was the only pitcher on the staff that had a winning record, finishing 9-4 with a 2.90 ERA. Parshall, who pitched the most innings last year with 168.1, is working to improve upon her 11-17 record and 3.20 ERA.

There are a bunch of new additions to this team that are poised to make a major impact on this team. Pitcher Logan Black, a junior transfer from Creighton, went 8-3 in her freshman season and also was a key part of a combined no-hitter in 2018. Her experience will be key for this young rotation in order for them to succeed.

There are also eight freshmen that are on the roster for the 2020 season.

Freshman pitcher Vanessa Oatley, ranked No. 73 in Extra Inning Softball’s Top 100, struck out 213 batters and had a 0.19 ERA in 2018. If half of those stats can translate to the college level, Oatley will be able to be a major asset to the Nittany Lions pitching staff.

Another freshman to look out for is Michelle Leone, who only struck out three times in 75 plate appearances in 2018. The previous season she finished with a .444 batting average, proving that she can get on base and is very patient at the plate. She could be a key top-of-the-lineup bat as the season goes on.

Coach Lehotak has shown during her seven years at Penn State that she isn’t afraid of using freshmen in high-level situations if they are performing at a high level. Last season, the major contributors were mainly freshmen. So, the current freshmen class could play a major factor into how this team does.

While last season did not finish the way the players wanted it to, the team is young enough to continue improving and possibly finishing the year with a winning record.

The Nittany Lions begin their season participating in the Felsberg Invitational, with their first game being at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, February 7 against UC Berkeley.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey is a junior from Annapolis, Maryland, majoring in Secondary Education and minoring in Social Justice in Education. When he is not writing for the blog, he enjoys rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the tv show Survivor, and yes mom, actually doing schoolwork. If you would like to talk about sports or Survivor, the best way to reach out is on Twitter @theowenabbey. All other compliments may be sent to [email protected]

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