Sometimes the hardest part about starting a season is shaking off the cobwebs. The Penn State softball team experienced just that this past weekend, getting off to a shaky start but slowly improving.
The Nittany Lions had lost their first three games on the road in New Mexico by a combined score of 34-7 against Colorado State, New Mexico State and Texas Tech. But the Lions finished well with consecutive 10-2 wins in a rematch against New Mexico State and a game against Missouri-Kansas City.
“The first couple of games, everyone is nervous,” senior Cassidy Bell said. “Once everyone got all that out and settled down, everything just came together and we were able to get some wins.”
Penn State will next head to North Carolina for the Carolina Classic this weekend. The Lions will take on George Washington and North Dakota State on Saturday and Iowa State and North Carolina on Sunday.
The Lions faced an uphill climb to begin the Troy Cox Classic. They had to get used to an unfamiliar playing surface — Hilltopper — a natural soil infield mix enhanced with polymer.
“It’s synthetic material and if you’re not accustomed to it, it plays like cement,” head coach Robin Petrini said. “Once we got adjusted to the infield, our defense played a lot better.”
Penn State had four out of its nine total errors in the first game of the five-game series.
Bell and freshman Macy Jones led the way offensively last weekend for the Nittany Lions with nine RBI each.
“Macy is showing she is someone hopefully we can count on, and Cassidy is one of the 50 players to watch in the country and there’s a reason behind that,” Petrini said.
Jones had pitching responsibilities as well. She went 2-1 last weekend with a complete game.
Balancing batting and pitching isn’t a problem for the freshman. She tries to stay in the zone when doing both.
“I try to focus on one out at a time when I’m pitching and putting the ball in play when I’m hitting,” Jones said.
Petrini said she knows what has to be done to continue carrying the momentum from last week.
“We just have to continue to build on our offense and our defense will sure itself up,” Petrini said. “Our pitchers have had some good workouts this week and we’re looking forward to playing again.”