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Penn State Baseball: Nittany Lions finally fall below .500

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Another weekend of misfortune on the diamond

Penn State head baseball coach Rob Cooper.
Heather Weikel

When we started our weekly articles on Penn State baseball, the Nittany Lions were a strong 13-3 and were looking to have a bright season. Since then, they have struggled immensely. After the holiday weekend, the Nittany Lions are now below .500 for the first time all season.

The Lions took on Illinois Fighting Illini and were swept out of Champaign this past weekend. The good news to take out of the series, however, is that the team was pretty competitive throughout the entire series, losing each of their three-games by just one run. On Friday, they lost the series opener in 10-innings by a final of 2-1 before losing on 7-6 Saturday and 4-3 on Sunday.

Their ability to be competitive in Big Ten play but ultimately not pull out victories has plagued the program this season. Much of it goes back to their struggles at the plate as the pitching for the most part has held up for Rob Cooper’s program. With the sweep, the Nittany Lions conference record fell to 1-13 and have now lost seven straight games overall.

Their midweek showdown against West Virginia last week was cancelled due to inclement weather. It was supposed to be the first game of a home-and-home series with the Mountaineers. While the first game has yet to be rescheduled and it’s unclear if it will be, the two teams will face off in Morgantown on Tuesday.

In addition to facing the 24-14 Mountaineers who are 13-3 at home this season, the Lions will take on the Lafayette Leopards at home on Wednesday. This upcoming weekend, the Lions will stay at home to start a three-game series against Maryland. The Terrapins are 19-21 on the season but have done decent in conference play, collecting a 6-6 record.

Player Spotlight:

Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting one player per article. Today’s player spotlight focuses on senior outfielder Jordan Bowersox. The Florida native has been one of the best hitters in the entire country and Big Ten so far this season. So far he’s hitting .346 on the season but has just two home runs and 12 RBIs. He also has a pretty good walk-to-strikeout ratio at the plate with 13 walks and 25 strikeouts on the season. It’s not tremendous but it goes to show how much he makes contact at the plate.

Over the Nittany Lions last 10 games, however, Bowersox has been on fire with 16 hits in 39 at-bats. That’s an outstanding .410 batting average over those last 10 games. It’s safe to say that Bowersox hasn’t been the reason for the Lions struggles at the plate this season. He’ll be a bat that they’ll desperately miss but it’s a bat that should also help him find his way into an MLB farm system this summer.