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Matt Wood Leads Penn State Baseball Through Up-And-Down Season

All eyes were on the Nittany Lions’ lineup this season after a handful of heavy-hitting batters graduated in 2021. While Penn State baseball’s offense has struggled as of late, the same cannot be said about junior Matt Wood.

After earning third-team All-Big Ten honors in 2021 as a designated hitter, Wood has continued hitting his stride — this time as the team’s go-to catcher behind the plate.

“I think he’s a definite leader,” said manager Rob Cooper. “Part of that is just because that’s the way he goes about his business. He puts in the work and doesn’t make excuses. It’s fun to watch, it’s fun to coach, and he’s a really good player.”

It’s easy to see why those around the team would consider Wood to be a leader. His contributions to the team go beyond just his offensive production.

Cooper spoke about how Wood and fellow catchers Josh Speigel and Tyson Cooper, work with the pitching staff to improve communication from the mound to home plate.

“The three of them, I think they work really, really hard,” said Rob Cooper. “They take a lot of pride in knowing they get to help the pitchers through that.”

On the season, Wood is hitting .398 (fourth-best in the Big Ten) with an OPS of 1.040. Wood has missed just one of Penn State’s 29 games so far, which has helped boost his stats and keep the Nittany Lions’ lineup afloat, too.

In Penn State’s most recent series against Northwestern, Wood went 4-for-13 with three RBIs, including a first-pitch home run in game one to give the Nittany Lions the lead.

The Nittany Lions entered that three-game series against Northwestern after beating Bucknell 7-6 at home. Wood excelled against the Bison pitching staff and went 3-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs and a run scored.

“I like where I’m at right now,” Wood said. “I’m not trying to do too much, and I’m getting the results I want.”

Wood has consistently lauded the efforts of his teammates in conversations with the media, highlighting the team-wide nature of Penn State’s success.

“I think all of our approaches were really good, not pressing or trying to do too much and just staying within ourselves,” Wood said after Penn State recorded a season-high 16 hits against Bucknell. “It’s something to build off of.”

Wood’s individual efforts are an enormous part of the team approach, however. Through 28 games, Wood has obtained career-highs in slugging percentage (.644), on-base percentage (.467), and runs (23). He also needs just two more hits to reach a new personal record.

The Nittany Lions return to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Tuesday, April 12, to face West Virginia. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. on BTN+.

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About the Author

Devon Craley

Devon is a junior studying sports journalism. He has the genuine misfortune of being a Philadelphia sports fan...IYKYK. Send your hot takes and preferably your freezing cold takes on Twitter to @devon3134. Devon is also your friendly, neighborhood State College movie nerd.

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