Softball vs Rutgers, Head Coach Amanda Lehotak

Penn State head coach Amanda Lehotak talks with her team during the softball game against Rutgers at Beard Field on Friday, April 12, 2019. The Scarlet Knights defeated the Nittany Lions 6-1.

In the wake of Monday’s announcement from Penn State Athletics saying softball head coach Amanda Lehotak has resigned from her position, the search for a new head of the Nittany Lions’ softball program will begin immediately.

Lehotak, who held her role at Penn State for the last seven seasons, stepped down to pursue other professional opportunities outside of softball.

Penn State has stated it will now look nationwide for Lehotak’s replacement.

Whether the Nittany Lions look within the program or across the United States for a replacement, here are three possible replacements to lead Penn State next spring. 

Sarah Caffrey, Penn State

A natural choice given her in-house status, Caffrey is the longest tenured member of Penn State’s current coaching staff. The assistant coach was hired by Lehotak in August 2015 to work closely with pitchers and catchers, in addition to serving as a recruiting coordinator. 

Caffrey has previously coached at both Utah State and Texas Tech, and her expansive connections and recruiting prowess have resulted in a diverse Penn State roster. Fourteen states are represented on the Nittany Lions’ 2020 roster, including softball hotbeds such as Arizona and Florida.

With Caffrey leading the charge, Penn State could expect a program with talent from all across the globe.

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Joey Lye, Bucknell

The Nittany Lions may not need to take more than a short drive east on Interstate 80 to find their new coach. The leader of Bucknell since 2018, Lye had secured back-to-back second-place finishes in the Patriot League prior to a shortened 2020 season. 

Over a two year period during Lye’s reign, the Bison have won 55 games, including a program-record 14 conference wins during the 2019 season.

Lye, who was named the conference’s Coach of the Year in 2019, is also an active member of the Canadian National Softball Team as an infielder.

The fast-rising Lye, who began her collegiate coaching career ten years ago at her alma mater Williams College, could be a prime candidate to replace coach Lehotak.

Jennifer Patrick-Swift, NC State

Though an unrealistic hire, Patrick-Swift could be a dream selection for the Penn State program. A native of Northern Cambria, Pennsylvania, which is just over 90 minutes west of University Park, Patrick-Swift’s coaching resume speaks for itself.

Patrick-Swift began her coaching career in 2005 at Washington & Jefferson after four years playing for Methodist University in North Carolina. She then rose through the coaching ranks, moving onto Division II schools such as Chowan University in North Carolina and Millersville University.

Patrick-Swift joined Division I competition in 2011 with Seton Hall, then took the head coach job with the Saint Francis Red Flash from 2012 to 2018, where she molded a powerhouse.

The Red Flash amassed a 32-0 conference record her last two years in Loretto, Pennsylvania, which helped Patrick-Swift secure a head coach position for the NC State Wolfpack. 

While unlikely that Patrick-Swift would leave an ACC job for the Big Ten after just two years in Raleigh, she could be the optimal replacement for Lehotak.

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