With a 7-34 record, it’s hard to imagine this is what Penn State had in mind for its first season with new head coach Clarisa Crowell.
The offense and pitching both struggled, but if there is one saving grace for the Nittany Lions, it’s the amount of returning players they’ll have next season.
With just three seniors on this year’s team — Dani Fey, Kennedy Legg and Logan Black — the blue and white will have few holes to fill in 2022.
Crowell spoke on what those three seniors bring to the table on a daily basis.
“They’re just a great group of kids,” Crowell said. “All three of them are so different, but I think it was the best thing for our team because they lead in different types of ways. We will definitely miss Dani, Kennedy and Logan, but I know that they’re all going to do great things. They always have a home in Happy Valley.”
Penn State will bring back its ace in 2022, with Bailey Parshall just finishing up her junior season. The Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania, native posted a 2.82 ERA and will look to improve upon that mark next season alongside Kylee Lingenfelter and Vanessa Oatley.
Lingenfelter and Oatley’s stats do not tell the whole story, as the pitchers each showed promise this year, but had their ERAs bloated by a handful of bad outings.
On the offensive side, Penn State’s junior catcher Ally Kurland will come back for one more season after leading the Nittany Lions in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage.
Along with Kurland will be Melina Livingston who led the blue and white to the tune of a team-high .271 batting average.
“I look forward to that group coming back,” Crowell said about the returning starters she’ll retain on her 2022 squad.
Crowell said this year allowed her players to get the Big Ten experience they needed.
“A lot of our kids, they didn't have any real Big Ten experience,” Crowell said. “Our junior class and our seniors, they were only freshmen the last time they played a full conference schedule.”
The Nittany Lions are looking to improve in a lot of different aspects going into next season, but chief among them is offense, according to Crowell.
Crowell’s team posted just a .177 team batting average and a .258 slugging percentage along with striking out 238 times in 41 games.
“We need to get stronger from an offensive standpoint,” Crowell said. “I think our kids know that, so I'm excited honestly for the offseason and our fall season. Our kids have worked really hard.”
Crowell said she looks for next year to be a “great year” with the work the team will put in in the offseason.
As far as Crowell’s feelings about her first year in Happy Valley, the coach said the coronavirus pandemic caused many struggles, but she’s ready to keep adjusting to her new home.
“I'm excited to get things going again,” Crowell said. “I'm excited to meet people and see what Penn State’s all about. I know that even with these challenging times, this is where I am supposed to be.”
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