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Five Fall Sports Teams Set for Playoff Action

While the Pennsylvania College of Technology golf and cross country teams prepare to go deeper into postseason play next week, the College’s baseball, women’s volleyball and men’s soccer teams are set to get their first taste of playoff action. On Sunday, the women’s volleyball team coached by Bambi Hawkins earned the top seed and will host the Commonwealth Campus Athletic Conference West Division playoffs at Bardo Gym. On Monday and Tuesday, Penn College golfers, with the Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference championship already under their belt, hope to add titles in both the Pennsylvania Collegiate Athletic Association and CCAC during action on the Penn National course at Fayettville.

Saturday, coach Mike Stanzione’s Wildcat baseball team steps into the first round of the Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference playoffs. Also on Wednesday, the Penn College men’s soccer team is ticketed for the CCAC playoffs. Details will be released early next week. And next Saturday, the college’s cross country teams compete in the PCAA/CCAC Championships. Also still in the running for playoff spots are the college’s women’s soccer and co-ed tennis teams.Baseball After dropping the first game Friday at Penn State Hazleton by a 4-3 score, the Wildcats rallied for an 11-1 win in the second game to qualify as the fourth seed for the EPCC playoffs.

Penn College will face host and top seed Northampton County Community College at 10 a.m. Saturday. Penn State Delaware plays Penn State-Abington at 12:30 p.m., with the day’s two losers squaring off at 3 p.m. The double-elimination tournament continues Sunday with games at 10 a.m. and 12:30 and 3 p.m. The Penn College baseball team also is assured of a spot in the Commonwealth Campus Athletic Conference playoffs that start Wednesday.

In the CCAC East Division playoffs on Wednesday, Penn College will face Penn State Abington, while Penn State Delaware and Penn State Hazleton battle in the other half of the bracket. Winners will advance to the next round Oct. 19, with the winner of that game squaring off against the West champ in a best-of-three series scheduled to begin Oct. 23. Teams in the West Division are Penn State Beaver, Penn State Fayette, Penn State McKeesport and Penn State New Kensington.

Going into the postseason, the Wildcats are relying on their pitching and defense if they are to continue to advance. Hitting, Stanzione said, has been the team’s Achilles’ heel all season long.

Said Stanzione of the CCAC playoffs, “We split with both teams that are ahead of us (Penn State Abington and Penn State Delaware), so I think it’s a wide-open tournament.”

VolleyballOver the past three seasons, the Penn College program has seen steady growth under Hawkins, improving from 1-14 in 2001 to 9-10 in 2002 to 10-5 last year, when it reached the playoffs for the first time in school history. Going into tournament action this weekend, Penn College is 16-2, but, despite her team’s regular-season success, Hawkins is cautious, saying, “We’re going to take it one match at a time. “We have a very strong team, obviously. Like I said at the beginning (of the season), I think these girls can go all the way. There are factors that will play into that, but we will work our best to overcome any factors that get in our way.” Among the leaders throughout the season have been Janell Thompson (Northern Potter), Amber Geckle (Indian Valley), Maria McNett (Canton) and Natalie Plavi (Elderton). “They (all of the players) support each other very well. Especially, they understand when somebody has to be out for academic reasons and the fill in the gaps,” Hawkins added. In the first game at 1 p.m., Penn College will take on Penn State Beaver, while, at 2 p.m., Penn State Fayette will meet Penn State DuBois. The winners of those games will meet at 3 p.m. for the West Division championship, with both teams moving on to the CCAC Championships Sunday, Oct. 17, at Penn State.GolfShaun McQuay, a freshman from Warrior Run, took medalist honors during the EPCC championships earlier this week when he beat Matt Duffy of Penn State Mont Alto, a graduate of South Williamsport High, in a one-hole playoff after both tied with 77s, but Wildcat coach Chet Schuman thinks it will take lower scoring to win this time around. “We didn’t play real well. The scores were probably the highest (in a championship) since I’ve been coaching,” Schuman said. But, because they were high across the board, Penn College walked away with the team title for the second year in a row and, said Schuman, “We’ll take that and run out of town and be happy.”

“I told them they can’t expect to shoot that (320 as a team) and win the Commonwealth championship. It would be a real dogfight if we did that. We’ve got to drop our 80s down to 70s, but they have the potential, they know that,” he said. Competing for Penn College in the PCAA portion of the tournament will be McQuay, Jeff Kerr II (Bloomsburg), Brandon Smith (Wellsboro), Tony Stopper (Jersey Shore) and Gilbert Balliet (Warrior Run). Scott Dawson (Danville) will be the first alternate. Because of the CCAC’s four-year eligibility rule, Matt Haile (Shikellamy), the defending PCAA champion, will join them for the CCAC portion of the event. Penn National, the coach said, is the kind of course where fairway accuracy is a must. Greens, he predicted, will be fast. “I would expect that not only Matt, but everyone we have on our roster, potentially, all six can shoot in the 70s. If they play their game they could go low,” said Schuman. “They’re a good group of players who play well and support each other well. “They know their game and they know what to do, so I’m hoping they just do it just two more days,” the coach added.

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