Softball team heading south to Myrtle Beach
LADY LIONS TO PLAY PRESEASON TOURNAMENT
"Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic"
Indoor practice gives way to outdoor games during spring break trip to Myrtle beach.
With the current weather of western Pennsylvania at odds with Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of two more weeks of winter, the Penn State New Kensington softball team is going with a sure thing and heading to sunny South Carolina.
The New Kensington Lady Lions begin spring training March 5, in Myrtle Beach, with preseason practices and games. Despite the mild winter, unplayable fields are keeping coach Mike Marsili's squad inside. The 70-degree climate on the east coast of northern South Carolina gives the team the chance to play outside.
"Going to Myrtle Beach gives us a jump on the competition," said Marsili, beginning his fourth season as head coach. "We hope to bond as a team and get to know each other."
During February, Marsili had the team doing its conditioning, fielding, and hitting in the Athletics Center. The squad worked out in the weight room, fielded grounders in the gymnasium, and got its swings inside the batting cage. In addition, pitchers threw on the sidelines while position players executed defensive drills.
"We can only do so much in the gym, so I'll be excited to get them on the field and see what they can do," Marsili said. "The schedule gives the coaches an opportunity to analyze players' strengths and determine their positions."
The team will spend five days in Myrtle Beach for the "Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic." The Lady Lions will play eight games against six schools, including Sauk Valley College from Illinois, Wentworth College from Boston, Rivier College from New Hampshire, and Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. The itinerary is not all softball. In keeping with the spirit of the campus' spring break, which coincides with the South Carolina sojourn, the players will also have some beach time.
"Each day after the game we have something planned for the players," said Marsili. "Our hotel is right on the ocean, and they can go to the beach or the hotel pool during their free time."
After spring break, classes begin March 14 and that means, most likely, back to indoor workouts. The New Kensington Lady Lions will have 10 days before opening the season Saturday, March 24, at Chatham University in Pittsburgh. Marsilli hopes the team's home field at Wolf Pack Park in Lower Burrell will playable for the home opener March 31 against Penn State Scranton.
"We have had so much precipitation, the fields will take time to dry out," said Marsili. "I scheduled Chatham as an away game because they have a synthetic turf field. I don't expect to get on our field until the end of the month."
Last year, Marsili guided the team to a 6-6 PSUAC record and a fifth-place finish in the conference. He is a certified coach and conducts numerous clinics throughout the year. His assistant is Brian Eshbaugh, who was the head coach of the Lady Lions for three years, 2002-05. Eshbaugh guided New Kensington to two PSUAC championships.
For the full softball schedule, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/StudentLife/Athletics/39086.htm online.