Penn State softball: Lehotak named new head coach

Penn State has found its new softball coach.

Amanda Lehotak was named the seventh coach in the Nittany Lion program’s history on Monday, ending a search of a little more than a month.

Lehotak brings seven years of head coaching experience to Penn State, with the last two at Texas-San Antonio.

“We are looking to forward to having Amanda lead our softball program,” director of athletics David Joyner said. “She represents all of the core values that we look for in a coach at Penn State and she presented a very strong and clear vision of how she plans to run and strengthen the softball program. She will be a great addition to our Penn State coaching family.”

Lehotak replaces Robin Petrini, who resigned June 7 after 17 seasons and the most wins by any coach in the program’s 48-year history. Petrini had a 489-437-2 record during her tenure, but the Nittany Lions were just 16-34 this past season and 5-17 in the Big Ten.

Under Lehotak, the Roadrunners were 27-26 in the spring, which was just the second winning record in the last seven seasons for the program, along with a fifth-place finish and berth in the Western Athletic Conference tournament in the school’s first year as a member of the conference. UTSA was 24-28 in Lehotak’s first season as head coach.

Before going to San Antonio, Lehotak was at Jacksonville University for six seasons, the last five as head coach. The Dolphins improved their record each season with Lehotak as head coach, including her final season in 2011 of 44-16 overall, 18-2 in the Atlantic Sun Conference and the program’s first berth in the NCAA tournament. She was named Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year as her squad set school records for home runs, earned run average, shutouts and fielding percentage. Lehotak left Jacksonville with a school-record 137 wins.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank Dr. Joyner and (associate athletics director) Charmelle Green for this incredible opportunity,” Lehotak said. “They certainly have a great vision of what Penn State softball can be and it certainly matches what I believe this program can become nationally. I would also like to thank the search committee for doing their due diligence during the search process and for showing what a great community there is at Penn State.

“I am beyond thrilled to join this university that has not only elite academics, but also an outstanding tradition of athletics. I am so humbled that I have been chosen to take over this program with so much potential. I am excited to get to Penn State and get to work and make Nittany Lion softball a contender both in the Big Ten and on a national level.”

Overall, Lehotak has a 188-206 head coaching record. She was an assistant coach for one season at Jacksonville before taking over the program, and was an assistant coach at Missouri Western State for one season as well. She also served as an assistant coach at Daniel J. Gross High School in Bellevue, Neb. and was an interim assistant coach at College of Saint Mary in Omaha (2004).

Lehotak, a native of Omaha, Neb., spent two seasons playing at Mississippi before finishing her career, and graduating with a degree in family sciences, at Nebraska-Omaha. She set the single-season hits record at Ole Miss and was a third-team All-American at UNO.

The hiring leaves one more head coaching vacancy, with Penn State still in need of a baseball coach after Robbie Wine resigned June 18.