UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State Nittany Lions softball team has won 10 of its last 12 games to improve to 17-14 on the season. The recent success has been due in large part to the improved offensive play,
Penn State is averaging six runs per game over the last 12 games compared to just 2.5 runs per game in its first 19 games.
The offense started this hot streak during the second game of the doubleheader against Robert Morris, where they ended the game in five innings after posting 11 runs in the contest.
Chelsea Bisi, who currently boasts a .318 batting average, is tied for a team-high with five home runs and leads the team with 16 RBIs, noticed a change in the home opener.
“I think in that game I started to see the ball better,” Bisi said. “That gave me the confidence to just attack my pitch and just go for it.”
Head coach Amanda Lehotak also has noticed a change in the team.
“Really from there on out, I think they kind of got mad and (said to themselves), ‘Enough is enough,'” Lehotak said.
With five batters currently hitting north of .300 and another player sitting just below at .297, it’s easy to see how the runs have started to pile up for the Nittany Lions. Players and coaches alike have seen an attitude change in the team during this stretch of success.
“I don’t think our confidence ever wavered, but I think the attitude piece is really what shifted,” Bisi said. “We really stress confidence and attacking early (in the count) and that has contributed to our success. People are more commanding in the box and it’s really paying off.”
“They seem really calm at the plate,” Lehotak said. “They’re having great at bats, they’re moving runners and hitting runners in right now. They’re just playing really good, fundamentally-sound softball.”
With much of the attention on the Penn State offense, Bisi made sure to give the pitching staff, which is allowing just over three runs per game on the season, credit as well.
“It definitely takes the pressure off the offense knowing our pitchers are going to go out there and throw a great game every time,” Bisi said
Lehotak made it a point of emphasis that the improvement isn’t something that just happens overnight.
“I think their work ethic (is important), I think (assistant) coach (Alissa) Goler Perrin has done a great job with them, managing their emotions and getting them to have more efficient swings with power,” she said. “You can be the world’s greatest coach, but if you don’t have kids that will buy-in and will do the work, none of that matters.”
The next matchup for Penn State will be Wisconsin who they will play this weekend in the first Big Ten series of the year at home. The 25th-ranked Badgers will be the first ranked opponent of the season for the Nittany Lions, but they are more concerned with themselves than the opponent.
“We really just want to stick to the plan, focus on the little things and just control the controllables,” Bisi said.
Lehotak echoed her freshman infielder when talking about the Wisconsin series.
“We’re really just focusing on us,” she said. “It’s probably the best pitching staff we’ve seen all year, but we like the matchup.”
She also highlighted her team’s competitiveness and unwillingness to back down from any opponent.
“This team likes to compete. It’s probably the most competitive team I’ve ever had,” she continued. “It’s going to be fun to see what they can do against Wisconsin.”
The Nittany Lions will start the weekend series on Friday, March 29 and finish it up on Sunday, March 31. The first pitch for Penn State is slated for 6 p.m. Friday.
Article Source: https://gopsusports.com/news/2019/3/29/softball-attitude-shift-leads-to-offensive-spark-for-nittany-lions.aspx
Photo: Softball Nick Mazone, PSU Student Writer