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Penn State Baseball Continuing Offensive Success Heading Into Second Half Of Season

The sunny skies and warm weather are upon us, and with that, baseball season is in full force in Happy Valley.

Including a recent successful weekend sweep over Delaware State, the Nittany Lions have continued to pour runs onto their opponents over the last couple of weeks. Since the team’s March 28 matchup against Pitt, it has averaged 10 runs a game and has scored double-digit runs in four of its last eight games.

However, most of these games didn’t result in wins. Head coach Rob Cooper expressed his concern after a loss at home to Bucknell about the team going through a rough patch.

“I didn’t like our approaches. I thought we wasted a lot of at-bats. But this isn’t just a pitching thing. This is a team thing. It’s a coaching thing,” Cooper said. “This isn’t just the players. I got to figure out a way to get back connected with them and get them to believe that they’re really, really good.”

With the runs coming in hot, Cooper spoke after the series sweep over Delaware State about how the team was having better approaches toward at-bats and that his players looked more like themselves.

“Our biggest thing was we were trying to get kind of get back to who we are,” he said. “I thought Thursday we were pressed, but yesterday (Friday) and today (Saturday) felt a lot more like us.”

The sweep was capped off by a 15-3 mercy rule win over the Hornets on April 8. What caused this surge in runs? Cooper posted a picture from the movie “Slap Shot” and talked after the game about why he did this and the things he does to inspire his team.

“It’s my job as a college baseball coach to educate the youth of America. On Thursday, I felt like we were tight. And so I show them a clip from Slap Shot when we had some brothers finally get to make their debut,” he said. “I said, you know, I’m not saying we need to go and slap the other team in the face with our bats. But those guys are authentic. They just play it, love it, and just tried to loosen them up a little bit.”

Playing like that seems to be working out. The Nittany Lions as a team are hitting .303 on the year, which ranks third in the Big Ten. They also rank sixth in the Big Ten in runs, hits, total bases, and on-base percentage.

A highlight of the team right now is the play from Duke transfer Grant Norris. Norris took over the role as the everyday third baseman for the team and since he’s moved into that full-time role, has soared with flying colors.

He’s currently on an eight-game hit streak and is batting .318 on the year. Also, he’s driven in 25 RBIs, which is tied for first on the team with Jay Harry.

Norris spoke with the media about his recent hot streak and how he and the rest of the team are trying to lock in heading forward.

“I’m just trying to see the ball the best I can, working on my approach and working more in the cages,” Norris said. “Everyone works so hard. We’re definitely going to keep going and hopefully everyone stays the course, especially going back into Big Ten play.”

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Penn State, with a big game at home against West Virginia on April 11 and an away series against Purdue from April 14 to 16. If the offensive numbers continue, though, Penn State could find more success going forward.

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About the Author

Matt Brown

Matt is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in sports studies from Bensalem, Pa. Matt is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and an overall sports fan in general. When not watching sports, you'll find him watching reruns of Community or The Office. To reach him, follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @matt_brown63, or email him at [email protected].

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