The Smaller Side Of Penn State Sports - 4/17/12

First things first: Our heartfelt condolences go out to men's soccer head coach Bob Warming and his family, as their daughter Audrey was killed in a car accident this past weekend. As a late twenty-something who's never been married and has no children, news like this still jars me and I hope that I, nor any of you readers, have or ever will be subjected to such an ordeal in our lifetimes.

Now, onto some more trivial news items...

Men's Volleyball (20-5 Overall, 13-0 EIVA)

The 7th-ranked Nittany Lions were the victims of a Mormon sweep this past weekend, losing back-to-back matches at BYU on Friday (3-1) and Saturday (3-0). Tom Comfort stepped up for PSU with his team-leading 16 kills in the Friday night match and 9 kills on Saturday night. Unfortunately for PSU, it is not yet scientifically feasible to field an entire squad of Tom Comfort clones. It doesn't matter though, because PSU is sitting pretty in its conference, as they finish out the regular season this Saturday against St. Francis (PA) before hosting EIVA semifinals (and championship, should they win their semifinal game) the weekend of April 26.

Should PSU win the EIVA tournament, they will then move on to the NCAA Tournament in Los Angeles, May 3-5, where they will aim for their first national title since 2008 when State College, PA became the volleyball capital of the country after the men's and women's teams won titles in the same academic year.


Baseball (15-20, 4-5 Big Ten)

Penn State won two out of three against Michigan this past weekend, including a 14-1 shellacking of Michiganon Saturday. In that particular game, Joe Kurrasch allowed only four hits and a run in seven innings pitched, while Joey DeBernardis led the batting brigade with a 4-for-5 hitting performance, including 3 RBI and 2 runs scored. In the other PSU victory, Jordan Steranka and Sean Deegan hit a critical home run each to edge out Michigan by a 6-4 margin.

Penn State's next game will be tomorrow at home against Bucknell.

Lacrosse Men's (7-5, 3-1 CAA) Women's (10-4, 2-2 Big Ten)

The 16th-ranked men's lacrosse team notched a third straight win, defeating Towson 8-3 this past Saturday. Matthew Mackrides and Shane Sturgis led all scorers with three goals each. PSU is currently ranked 16thand sports a 7-5 overall and 3-1 CAA record, currently putting them in second in the CAA standings behind only undefeated UMass.

In even more awesome news, LaxPower, the Internet's source for all things lacrosse, is projecting the Nittany Lions in the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team in their latest bracketology standings. Of course, this is all contingent upon Penn State winning its remaining two regular season games, both at home, against Delaware (April 21st) and Hofstra (April 28th).

Erstwhile, the 13th-ranked women's lacrosse team ended a three-game overall losing skid last Wednesday with a 15-3 blowout at Lehigh. They then followed that up with a victory at 10th-ranked Ohio State in Columbus on Sunday, upping their road record to 7-1 in the process. Now, I realize the concept of home field advantage in women's lacrosse is probably the polar opposite of football or men's basketball, but winning seven out of eight on the road in any sport is worthy of applause.

Softball (13-23 Overall, 5-7 Big Ten)

PSU won two out of three in their weekend series with Indiana. After a back-and-forth contest in Game One, the Hoosiers pulled away with a 12-6 victory. However, star hitter Lauren Yao went 4-for-6 at the plate with four runs scored and two RBIs and pitcher Jordan Wheatley kept IU's batters in check, en route to a PSU to a 5-2 victory in Game Two, while Kasie Hatfield's grand slam in Game Three propelled PSU to a 9-4 win.

The softballers will head to Wisconsin next weekend for a three-game series, including a doubleheader on Saturday.

Gymnastics

The 2nd-ranked men's team will be vying for a national title, as well as several individual titles, at the NCAA Championships in Norman, Oklahoma starting this Thursday. Amongst the individuals to keep an eye on are Craig Hernandez, who is the top-ranked pommel horse competitor in the nation, Scott Rosenthal and Miguel Pineda on the rings, and Parker Raque in the floor exercise. Head coach Randy Jepson is no stranger to national championships, having won three of them in his 21-year career manning PSU men's gymnastics. Don't be surprised to see him notch Title Number Four this weekend.

On the women's side of the coin, Sharaya Musser will be making her third appearance at the NCAA championships, which will be held in Duluth, GA this upcoming weekend. Musser, the lone representative for PSU, will be competing alongside Florida's entire squad on the bars, the uneven bars, and the beam.

Track & Field

The men's and women's track stars went into Bucknell's Christy Mathewson Memorial Stadium this past weekend and left with eight event victories and six new stadium records set. Brady Gehret was one of those stadium record-setters, notching a 20.99 in the 200-meter run, while his female counterpart, Kirsten Nieuwendam, also notched a victory in the 200 m with a time of 23.97, which was part of a top three sweep by the ladies. The women's 4x800 relay team led by Colleen Shannon, Tori Perri, Rachel Casciano, and Marta Klebe, also picked up a win over the weekend.

In field-worthy news, Joe Kovacs tossed a 63 feet, 10.25 inch shot (or 63-10.25) in the shot put, breaking his own stadium record from before in the process. Meanwhile, Melissa Kurzdorfer won the hammer throw with a toss of 203-1.

The men will head off next to Mt. SAC (stop giggling) Relays in Walnut, CA, while the women will head down to Auburn for the War Eagle Invitational.

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