The Penn State softball team will be escaping chilly Happy Valley and heading to sunny Fullerton, Calif., this weekend to face a tough set of opponents at the Judi Garman Classic..
Four out of five teams the team faces this weekend are ranked in the top 20, including No. 1 Oklahoma. The Nittany Lions will also play No. 9 Texas, No. 14 Arizona, No. 18 Washington, and unranked DePaul.
Senior Cassidy Bell said that forgetting about who the opponent is, no matter the ranking, will be paramount in Penn State’s success.
“Its easy to go up against a top team and be discouraged, but we’ve already had a talk with the team and it doesn’t matter who you play, any team can be beaten on any day,” Bell said.
The 6-12 Lions have had their challenges this season, including a 4-3 extra-inning loss last weekend to South Carolina.
Bell said the Lions played well in the loss, particularly defensively. The Lions went down 3-0 early, but came back to tie the game in the fifth inning. She said that this comeback showed the character of the team.
This weekend, the team hopes to build off of its strong pitching staff. Freshman Macy Jones, who was originally recruited to play outfield, has been vital for the Lions’ accomplishments on the mound.
She is leading the pitching staff with an overall record of 5-5 with 42 strikeouts and a 3.59 ERA.
Though she didn’t expect to pitch much, Jones has been enjoying the role and the impact she has on the outcome of games.
“I’ll do anything to win, and whatever the team needs I’ll do,” Jones said.
Bell said a key to their success has been the ability for everybody in the lineup to be able to produce runs.
“I think our team’s offense has really come alive this year,” Bell said. “We have a lot of people producing runs and hitting RBI in, which is always a good bonus. If one person gets out, you know the next person up can get the people in.”
Bell, who is currently ranked 27th in the NCAA with her .463 batting average, said that she is less focused on statistics and more focused on just playing her game.
“Now that I’m a senior, I’ve played the game and I know what to expect,” Bell said. “This year I just want to keep going, I don’t want to let up at all.”
She is also looking forward to returning to her home state of California this weekend.
“My family is coming, a couple of my friends get to come, old coaches, my trainer from home,” Bell said. “It’s really nice to go home and get to see some familiar faces.”