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Penn State Softball 2022 Season Preview

Penn State softball will begin its second season under head coach Clarisa Crowell on Friday, February 11. Coming off of a year with a 7-34 overall record and a season-high 16-game losing streak, the Nittany Lions have huge room for improvement.

It’s a new year, however, and Crowell has a new challenge ahead of her. This will be her first full season with both non-conference and conference games on tap. It’s safe to say it will not be easy.

Besides the back-and-forth travel from Happy Valley to warmer states like Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, Penn State will face four opponents who are ranked heading into the season. The first game of the season is against No. 11 Missouri, then in early March, the team takes on both No. 18 Oregon and No. 20 Duke. The Nittany Lions also have a road series against No. 16 Michigan scheduled during conference play.

It is going to be a wild ride for the Nittany Lions, who boast a mix of returning players and new faces who are expected to make an impact. Here’s a brief overview of the team’s roster.

Pitchers

If Penn State is going to do well this season, it will need to rely on its pitching to carry the load. Seniors Bailey Parshall and Kylie Lingenfelter are the two clear-cut, experienced leaders in the circle.

Parshall is widely considered the best pitcher on the team and has been the past few seasons. However, she is coming off an injury that sidelined her toward the end of the season in 2021. Due to the lack of pitching depth, her health will be crucial.

Parshall’s presence in the circle has been perhaps Penn State’s only consistent factor over the past three seasons. In 2021, she posted a 1-14 record but contributed a cool 2.82 ERA and 83 strikeouts over 89 innings. If Parshall can remain healthy, then the rotation has its true ace.

Junior Vanessa Oatley has shown improvement from season to season in her first two years as a Nittany Lion. In her first season, she went 2-5 with a 4.11 ERA, striking out 19 batters. She followed that up by going 4-5 with a 4.82 ERA and 31 strikeouts. If she can lower the ERA and keep increasing the strikeout counts, she’ll turn into a big contributor for the Nittany Lions.

The wildcard is freshman Lydia Spalding. She has a lot of untapped potential, but the college game is much different than high school. It is encouraging that she broke high school records in both 2018 and 2019, so the Nittany Lions may have gotten a steal.

Batters

The weak spot of this team comes on the offensive side. Frankly, no one was consistent enough to be a huge presence and someone that opposing pitchers feared. Very few batters could even get on base, and fewer could drive in runs.

It doesn’t help that the Nittany Lions’ best hitter, Melina Livingston, transferred to Michigan after hitting .279 with 17 hits, seven RBIs, and only five strikeouts in 2021. Her absence will likely require players like sophomore Mel Coombs and junior Ally Kurland to step up at the plate. Penn State will also need better performances from hitters like Maggie Finnegan, Michelle Leone, and Kaitlyn Morrison, all of whom hit under .200 last season.

Another concern is how good the freshmen hitters will be. Lydia Coleman and Maddie Gordon are the two newcomers on the offensive side of the diamond. There is a chance that Crowell doesn’t play them much, which could help them to acclimate to the college game at their own pace. However, they could also be the next Coombs, who breathed new life into the team as a freshman.

Record Prediction: 23-33

It’s hard to imagine Penn State turning it around completely this spring, especially with so few offensive weapons to bail out a solid pitching staff. Fatigue could set in once ranked opponents come up during Big Ten play, which could derail a promising campaign.

However, that’s not to say there is no hope though. Coombs and Kurland certainly have the ability to be big power hitters. Morrison has shown she can produce better numbers than last season. Spalding could be a dominant pitcher and, if paired with a healthy Parshall, help create a dangerous pairing.


Crowell and Penn State softball will address the media on Tuesday as the season draws ever closer. Stick with Onward State for updates as the Nittany Lions’ softball season gets underway.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey is a senior 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 school work. 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 coa5227@psu.edu.

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