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Penn State softball to end decade-long postseason drought this weekend

Penn State softball will end a 13-year NCAA Tournament drought Friday. Can the Nittany Lions advance out of a loaded regional for only the third time in program history?



Penn State softball, Clarisa Crowell, NCAA Tournament
Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in almost a decade in a half, Penn State softball is heading to the postseason. Led by head coach Clarisa Crowell, the Nittany Lions will end their 13-year NCAA Tournament drought this weekend in the opening round of the College Station Regional. While it’s been a strong year for the Nittany Lions on the diamond, it’ll be a tall test deep in the heart of Texas to advance out of a loaded regional. Does Penn State have what it takes to move on for only the third time in program history?

Penn State softball returns to NCAA Tournament

Penn State softball makes a return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011. The Nittany Lions earned a bid in the College Station Regional hosted by No. 16 seed (overall) Texas A&M. Within the four-team region, Penn State earned the No. 3 seed and will face Texas State in Friday’s first round.

The return to the NCAA Tournament ends a 13-year drought for Penn State softball after previously making the field eight of 12 seasons between 2000 and 2011. It is the 11th tournament appearance in program history, and the Nittany Lions will look to make it out of the regional round for just the third time ever.

The last time Penn State softball made the NCAA Tournament in 2011, the Nittany Lions lost the opener to Fordham 2-0. In the consolation bracket, they then defeated Albany 6-1 and Fordham 5-2 in 16 innings, before falling to No. 13 Oregon 3-1 in the regional final.

Clarisa Crowell leads quick coaching turnaround

Head coach Clarisa Crowell has been quickly building the program since arriving in August 2020. Penn State softball had a rough first season under Crowell in 2021 during a Big Ten-only COVID schedule. The Nittany Lions finished 7-34 and lost 15 straight games to open the year.

Since then, the Nittany Lions have put together three consecutive 30+ win seasons, finishing 32-22 (2022), 31-16 (2023), and 34-18 (2024). Crowell has greatly improved Penn State’s competitiveness within the Big Ten, holding a .500 or better conference record each season.

Previewing the regional

Penn State softball will enter as a relatively heavy underdog in the College Station Regional. Based on the RPI rankings, the regional will feature No. 15 Texas A&M (40-13), No. 17 Texas State (45-13), No. 38 Penn State (34-18), and No. 111 Albany (33-12).

First pitch Friday against the Bobcats is at 4 p.m. Texas State swept the Nittany Lions in early March by scores of 5-2, 2-1 (8 innings), and 6-0. The Bobcats were thought to possibly host a regional this season, and are arguably the best team in the entire tournament not hosting. On the other side of the bracket, the No. 16 seed Texas A&M Aggies will host the Albany Great Danes as the second game of the Friday doubleheader.

College Station Regional field:

Friday, May 17

Saturday, May 18

  • Game 3: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2 | 3 p.m.
  • Game 4: Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2 | 5:30 p.m.
  • Game 5: Loser of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4 | 8 p.m.

Sunday, May 19

  • Game 6 | TBD
  • Game 7 ​​​​​​​(if necessary) | TBD

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Former contributor at Nittany Central, Patrick joined Basic Blues Nation in 2023 as the Social Media Director, Penn State Wrestling beat writer, and producer of the Penn State Roar Room spaces. Patrick is also a contributor of Penn State football, basketball, and ice hockey news for the site.


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