By: Frank Maira, Assistant Director of Athletics/Sports Information Director
MONT ALTO, Pa. – The Penn State Mont Alto softball team kicks off its 2021 season this weekend with a home doubleheader on Saturday against PSU Schuylkill. The program played just a pair of games in the 2020 season before the COVID-19 pandemic occurred and cut short the remaining games last spring.
The season is scheduled to be played against all Pennsylvania State University (PSUAC) opponents and fifth year head coach Heath Newell is excited to showcase the talent and depth of his roster.
"Our depth this season is more than you can imagine, we have multiple athletes that can fill any position and that has made it hard for our coaching staff to determine who gets the start when it comes to gameday," said Newell.
The 2021 roster encompasses fresh talent with 11 freshman and five sophomores, but also back for her senior season is two-time USCAA All-American Brooklyn Wagner (Newville, Pa. / Big Spring). She finished the 2019 season leading the team in numerous batting categories including a .541 batting average (53-for-98), which was sixth best within the USCAA. She was one of 10 student-athletes within the PSUAC that had a batting average over .400 as she also topped Mont Alto with a .867 slug percentage, three home runs and 34 RBIs. Coach Newell is hopeful of the new talent on the roster quickly coming together and gelling this season.
"This group has plenty of talent and we as coaches are not afraid to make the changes necessary on defense or offense this season," remarked Newell. "Our freshman this season have transitioned great, they made it easy for us by working out early at home to get them ready for their transition to the collegiate game."
The newcomers will feature quite a few local faces including transfer Chelsea Cover (Waynesboro, Pa. / Waynesboro Area), Emily Bittinger (Waynesboro, Pa. / Waynesboro Area), Destiny Hall (McConnellsburg, Pa. / McConnellsburg), Kirsten Dell (Hanover, Pa. / New Oxford), Haley Dawson (Greencastle, Pa. / Greencastle-Antrim), Riley Fitzgerald (Gettysburg, Pa. / Gettysburg Area) and Chloe Sullivan (Spring Grove, Pa. / Spring Grove). Cover especially will play a big role this season behind the plate managing the pitching staff with fellow catcher Payton Watkins (Robersdale, Pa. / Forbes Road).
Despite being limited to practicing in the Mont Alto gym for much of the spring, all the while navigating a COVID-19 landscape by wearing masks, social distancing and adhering to health and well-being protocols, the prospect of simply having a season has motivated the Nittany Lions.
"So far this spring our bats look impressive and our team really is committed to improving throughout the season," said Newell. "Our offense should carry us through the season, but our pitching staff has improved tremendously with plenty of arms this season compared to previous years."
Penn State Mont Alto is allowing spectators at their home games, including this weekend's doubleheader against PSU Schuylkill. The department of athletics asks fans to review our policies and guidelines prior to arrival to help protect our campus community.