Basketball and wrestling season might be over in Happy Valley, but here at BSD, we're not quite ready to let our coverage sink into full offseason mode just yet. The spring sports are just getting into full swing, including baseball, which opens its home slate against Le Moyne today at 3:35 P.M. inside beautiful Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
The Nittany Lions are off to a nice 12-6 start this season. Unfortunately, since we've been so wrapped up with the winter sports for the last few months, that's pretty much all we can tell you. Lucky for us, Emily Kaplan of the Daily Collegian was gracious enough to do a quick Q and A with us to bring us up to speed on all the baseball action thus far. For further coverage, check out her preview of this three game set against Le Moyne and be sure to check out the Collegian's baseball blog, Inside The Dugout.
BSD: So, how is Penn State doing so far? Any big wins? Tough losses?
EK: The team, which played its first 18 games of the season on the road, is off to a great start. Penn State took two of three from No. 26 Wichita State last weekend, and the guys said that was a huge confidence boost heading into their home slate and the Big Ten season.
BSD: How does the pitching staff look?
EK: The pitching staff looks solid so far, especially sophomore Steven Hill who has really emerged as the team's ace. The pitching staff currently leads the Big Ten with a .240 batting-average-against and ranks second with a 3.06 ERA. Dave Walking has really anchored the bullpen, posting five wins -- which is tied for most in the country. Walking also ranks second in the Big Ten with 28 strikeouts and is third with a 1.71 ERA.
BSD: Ben Heath was an important player last season. How is the team dealing with his absence?
EK: Heath obviously was a big loss for the team, but offensively the Lions are doing OK. Overall, they rank third in the Big Ten with 100 runs scored, while they rank among the top-two with 38 doubles, eight triples, and 11 home runs. Junior Sean Deegan is picking up a bulk of the load, he currently leads the conference with a .653 slugging percentage while Mario Eramo and Jordan Steranka have hot bats, as well.