In like a Nittany Lion Former Northampton pitcher Marly Laubach now leading the Penn State softball team
ast year at this time, Northampton pitcher Marly Laubach was mowing down Lehigh Valley Conference batters on her way to helping the Kids to a District 11 title. She was also about to cement her name in the team record book in several categories.
Fast forward to this year, and Laubach is now the ace of the Penn State University softball team.
Her final destination, however, wasn't always clear. Laubach made the team as a preferred walk-on freshman, but she took the opportunity and ran with it. As of early this week, she leads Penn State in games (21), games started (15) as well as wins (8) and earned run average (3.46) among other categories.
"I think I came into the program here with pretty low expectations," Laubach said. "But once I got my first start, I knew that's exactly where I wanted to be. Coming into this program and earning a starting position as a freshman has been incredibly rewarding. Not only do I get to represent the best institution in the world, but I also get to represent the town where I grew up and the place where I learned to play the sport I love."
Laubach got an early taste of success when the Lions upset LSU, ranked 21st in the nation at the time, back on Feb. 17. Laubach pitched a complete game, allowing five runs and striking out three in the 6-5 victory. While the team hit a rough patch after that, over the recent weeks her win totals, as well as strike out ratios, have began to climb a little, and so has the success of the Lions.
In fact, your memories of Laubach probably includes striking out a school-record 262 batters at Northampton, but at Penn State, she's adapting to a different style of pitching.
"Well, obviously, in high school I was known primarily as a strike-out pitcher, and while I still manage to ring up a few at the collegiate level, I have transformed my style into more of a ground-ball game," Laubach said. "This is definitely necessary, because at this level, all of the batters in the opposing lineup are capable of hitting any ball that crosses the plate. I would say that's my biggest adjustment as a pitcher."
Laubach has 54 strikeouts and 38 walks in 93 innings of work so far this season. She's 8-10 and even has a save. Penn State is 12-23 overall and 5-7 in the Big Ten. But, the team was recently on a six-game win streak before falling to Indiana in extra innings, 8-7. It was a game in which Laubach entered in the fifth and took the loss.
However, Laubach was a huge part of the win streak. She earned a save in a 2-1 win over Indiana on April 12 pitching two, shutout innings. On April 11, she went 6.1 innings allowing just one earned run in a 4-1 win.
On April 4, Laubach went the distance against Michigan State, allowing three earned runs and fanning six to start the streak. Then on April 6, she pitched five innings in relief to get the victory, allowing just three hits and no runs while striking out two.
Looking ahead, Laubach has short and long term goals, but she's expecting to be a part of much better days at Penn Stage, and perhaps this recent stretch of wins was a good sign of things to come.
"By the end of the year, I'm hoping to master an off-speed pitch, because it will make me more effective, and maybe help out my strike out count," she said. "And long term, I'm expecting to be a part of a championship team, and I hope I can lead them in the circle."
Despite now pitching in Happy Valley, Laubach brought plenty of Northampton with her to PSU.
"I feel like we had an exceptional amount of school spirit and pride at Northampton, and that's definitely something I uphold here at Penn State," Laubach said.
It goes without saying that Laubach is pretty busy this time of year. But, she tries to keep in touch with former teammate Leandra Sterner or Lexi Scala of Liberty to stay in the loop as far as what's going on in the Lehigh Valley.
A typical day for Laubach starts at 6 a.m. for early morning workouts, then it's time for class. She managed to schedule all of her classes so she's finished by 12:30 p.m. every day. After class it's lunch on the way home before practice starts at 3 p.m. She said she doesn't leave the field until around 6 p.m., then usually the freshmen either go out to eat or do homework at study hall.
"Then hopefully bed before midnight, and wake up and do it all again," Laubach said.
Penn State will close out it's regular season May 2-4, against Illinois at home. Until then, Laubach is going to enjoy her freshman season, but she's already learned enough to pass along to those about to take similar steps.
"My best advice for any girls looking to play in college: It's not about just you anymore. It's about the team," Laubach said. "They're your new family. It's about your family, and your school. In the long run, it's all about the bigger picture."
"I play for Penn State. I play for the best university in the world, and I couldn't be more proud of what I have accomplished, and what I have planned out for myself in the future."
If her future plans are similar to what she accomplished at Northampton, Penn State is about to be on the softball map.