Goodman Shaffer: Springtime views and diamond dreams
Some general observations while celebrating that spring has finally sprung:
High school sports head down the home stretch in furious fashion. It’s a crazy time of year, heading toward their playoffs and the end of school; but also the most fun — good weather and contests that matter. And for seniors, their last opportunities to compete in high school athletics, a chance to make the most of every moment.
Some of my favorite weeks of the spring are upon as television coverage of the NCAA softball playoffs begin this week. It will be especially exciting to watch the Saint Francis Red Flash in the Tucson Regional for the second straight year. The NEC champions ride a 19-game winning streak into the four-team regional bracket after rolling through conference action undefeated. They’re primed for a history-making upset Friday at 11:30pm on ESPN-3. Can’t wait to watch with fingers crossed.
The Penn State baseball team wrapped up its home schedule Monday evening. It’s been a tough year record-wise, with only three Big Ten wins to the Nittany Lions’ credit. They round out their season with trips to Villanova and Iowa this week. The good news for PSU is that the starting line-up did not include a single senior, so the team has high hopes of building on their 2018 season. Shared experiences, especially overcoming adversity can bring teams together; getting over hurdles of injuries and youth will make the Lions better. Looking forward to seeing this squad in 2019.
Penn State turns over Medlar Field at Lubrano Park to the State College Spikes soon; their minor league season begins in June. A highlight of the 2018 season is sure to be the New York Penn League All-Star Game, hosted by the Spikes in August. Up-and-coming stars will be featured in the annual classic, which will also shine spotlight on Happy Valley and Central PA. Companion events to the All-Star Game include an all-star tailgate, and a celebrity game, featuring Penn State football great Ki-Jana Carter, among others.
It’s shaping up to be a special week of celebrating baseball and much more.
Loved watching Major League Baseball on Mother’s Day weekend as pro players broke out their pink accessories in honor of their moms.
The holiday series included some extra special moments in Pittsburgh. The Bucs hosted San Francisco and welcomed home Andrew McCutchen with some of their best attendance numbers of the season, as well as open arms, standing ovations and lots of love. Cutch was obviously touched by the response from the fans he played in front of from 2009-2017; he was a huge part of bringing the Pirates out of the doldrums and back to life. So while it was sad to see him in a different uniform, it was inspiring to see sportsmanship alive and well; no one deserves such a tribute more.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.