STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Since she was young, Kylee Lingenfelter always wanted to go to Penn State, and today, she is nearing an end to her seventh semester as a Penn State student.
(Photos courtesy of Penn State Athletics)
For the Jefferson County product, she may be one of over 76,000 undergraduates in the Penn State system, but she is also one of just 23 players on the Penn State Nittany Lions softball team. Since her sophomore year of high school, the Punxsutawney native has remained loyal to her commitment and duties as a Penn State softball player.
“I always wanted to go to Penn State,” the college senior said. “It always sparked my interest because it is a family school. I met the coaches and came on many visits. I always thought the place was breathtaking, super connected, and everyone seemed like a big family.”
Over the last three years, Lingenfelter has been one of the Nittany Lions’s top pitchers, pitching in 65 games across three seasons. Being one of the aces of a pitching staff has always been comfortable for her as she helped the Lady Chucks go on a run to a state championship in 2018.
Overall in her high school career at Punxsutawney, she helped her the program to four District 9 titles, was named the District 9 Pitcher of the Year as a senior, was named the District 9 Co-Pitcher of the Year in 2017, was a two-time Northern Allegany League Player of the Year, was selected as a Central Pennsylvania League All-Star Team twice, earned first-team all-state honors, and was a Gatorade Player of the Year nominee as a junior.
Without question, the state championship run was the “icing on the cake” for a high school career already so decorated. The Jefferson County product said this about the run the Lady Chucks went on to be crowned state champions.
“I wanted to go as far as we could. Nothing was going to get in my way of doing my best to get where we deserved to be and to make school history.”
Like almost all college softball players, Lingenfelter got extra reps on the travel softball circuit. She played most of her travel ball career for the Ohio Outlaws with girls who have played for programs at all levels all over the country. The extra games over a collection of years would prepare her for the Power Five Conference ranks as a Big Ten Conference player.
Since coming to Penn State, a lot of things have changed. She became a relief pitcher for a time in her college career while also becoming a spot starter. However, she has now transitioned back to a starting pitcher, a role she has been in most of her softball career. She had to deal with the challenges of COVID-19 costing her much of her sophomore campaign and a traditional third season. The Punxsutawney product shared her thoughts on what she and her teammates have been through over the last two years of softball.
“It has really been up and down, and these times have shown me we really cannot take anything for granted. We had to adapt to an ever-changing schedule, but I think it has brought our team closer together than we ever had been. It has really helped all of us become better with teamwork, and I think will all make us better and more adaptable when we enter the workforce.”
Speaking of the workforce, Lingenfelter had some of her first experiences in the sports business world in 2021. She accepted an internship for the State College Spikes baseball organization as a game day and promotions intern. She has helped the Penn State athletic department as an intern this semester as well.
“I just was not ready to give up sports just yet,” she said. “Penn State does not offer a sports management degree, but the business school has a lot of different routes people can go. That is how I settled on management.”
Going into her fourth season for Penn State softball, Lingenfelter believes this is the closest team she has been a part of for the Nittany Lions. This characteristic of the 2021-22 team she believes will carry over to help the program have the most success they have had in her time in State College.
“We had a great six weeks of fall ball,” said Lingenfelter. “We got a lot closer in that short period and grew as a team. Compared to the beginning of the school year, I think we have come a long way.”
To become the person and player she is today, the former Lady Chuck was quick to mention her forever coach, Sue Snyder, who first helped her become a pitcher back in her days playing for the Punxsutawney Little League system.
“I know I can go to her for anything. She has been my pitching coach since the time I was nine or 10 years old and has become one of my favorite people in the entire world. She has helped me grow so much as a pitcher and has had a huge influence on shaping me into who I am today.”
Lingenfelter also included all of her coaches throughout her life because each of them have had a positive influence on her throughout her time in softball. They have also helped her know how to carry herself professionally and how to have a high standard for herself. Last, but certainly not least, there are her parents, Kim and Brian. They have raised her to be a kind, strong, and hard-working young woman; something that goes beyond the limits of a game.
Memories of district championships, trips around the country, a state title, and shenanigans and card games with her teammates will be memories she cherishes most once she hangs up her cleats for the last time. It has been a great run for the Penn State senior, but there is still road yet untraveled.