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Penn College Baseball Season Looms, Six Wrestlers Headed to Nationals

Despite stubborn winter weather, the Pennsylvania College of Technology baseball team will begin its season later this week, while in tournament action Saturday, six Wildcat wrestlers qualified for national championships.

Penn College is coming off its winningest season ever and coach Chris Howard is hopeful of more good things to come. The Wildcats open their season Friday with a doubleheader at Southern Virginia University and then head to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for seven games in five days.

A year ago, the Wildcats won a school-record 24 games, finished second in the Penn State University Athletic Conference and placed among the top six in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association when they finished 24-17 overall. They were 19-4 in all conference games.

“Our winter workouts are pretty much the same. Nothing much has changed this year. We’ve always had to deal with the cold and we’ve always been inside. We got outside and ran and threw in the parking lot the other day, but, other than that, we are in the Field House getting our hitting in and doing as much as we can,” Howard said.

“We have a lot of the core guys coming back and that’s something we’re always happy with, and they’re very motivated,” Howard continued. “Last year we had a pretty successful season, although we were upset we couldn’t bring home a conference championship. I think we’ve addressed some areas this year that we were kind of short in last year, mainly depth at pitching. We ran out of arms last year, that’s really what it boiled down to when it comes to tournament time.

“This year, we brought in quite a few options, a lot of good arms, and we’re excited about that. The defense was outstanding last year and we have most of our infield back. We’ve got two-thirds of our outfield back with a lot of good freshmen who are there to help out. … I like our chances,” the eighth-year coach continued.

In a preseason poll of the conference’s 10 coaches, Penn College was picked to finish second behind Penn State Greater Allegheny. Following in order were: Penn State Beaver, Penn State Brandywine, Penn State Mont Alto, Penn State York, Penn State Fayette, Penn State Hazleton, Penn State Wilkes-Barre and Penn State Scranton.

“We’ve got a lot of leaders on the team, a lot of guys who take care of business. This is probably one of the most fun groups I’ve had to coach. You see a lot of motivation in their eyes and it’s really evident by our winter practices. We’re up three days a week at 6 in the morning and every one of them has been there. I’ve never had to get on anyone for missing a practice and it’s really that kind of dedication that gets me going and motivates me to be a better coach for them,” Howard added. “I’m excited. I think the sky is the limit this year.”

Key returning players include brothers Cody Buterbaugh, a senior from Conestoga, at second base, and Zach Buterbaugh, a junior from Conestoga, in center field; senior Josh Longsderff, of Columbia, at third base and pitching; and sophomore Zach Weil, of Kutztown, catching.

Pitchers on whom the Wildcats will count also include junior Tyler Cooklin, of Rippey, Iowa; sophomore Luke Zamiskie, of Latrobe; junior Matt Demilio, of Greensburg; freshman Clay DeNoia, of Berwick; junior Jack Rodriguez-McKeon, of Stroudsburg; freshman Chris Glunk, of Jersey Shore, and a left-hander like Cooklin.

“We really relied a lot on Josh last year to pitch big games and you could see it kind of took a toll on him toward the end of the year, so the fact that we have a much deeper pitching staff, I think we’re going to see some good results for Josh,” Howard said. “With nine games in seven days (to start the season), we’re going to need a deep staff.”

Expected to open at shortstop is sophomore James Simasek, of Landenberg; Tanner Kibe, a freshman from Reedsville, will see infield action and among those vying for the starting spot at first base are sophomore Mike Scully, of Middletown, Del.; freshman James Brophy, of Minersville; freshman Lorenzo Marefka, of Jeannette;  and freshman Evan Vigna, of McAdoo.

In the outfield with Zach Buterbaugh will be sophomore Rantz Mahaffey, of Linden; sophomore James Scully III, of Middletown, Del.; freshman Dylan Scaringi, of Coatesville; freshman Cole Weachock, of Pottsville; and sophomore Jeremy Rall, of Williamsport.

“We’re young in some places, but we’re also deep and it’s a good problem to have as a coach. There are a lot of good quality players out there and it will be fun,” Howard said.

“Everybody is anxious to get outside and get some games under our belts. It will be tough going from the Field House to playing a game, but I think the guys’ adrenaline will be pumping so hard that it won’t matter,” the coach added.

The Wildcats’ home opener is scheduled for March 22 at Bowman Field against Baptist Bible College.

Six Penn College wrestlers qualified for the National Collegiate Wrestling Championships, for non-NCAA teams, during the NCWA Mid-East Championships Saturday at the college’s Bardo Gymnasium. Wildcats headed to Allen, Texas, March 14-16 are sophomore Dan Frankenfield, of Dushore, who placed third in the 174-pound weight class; and freshmen Troy Leid, of Terre Hill, who was fourth at 157; Joe Champluvier, of Laceyville, who was fifth at 157; Mason Replogle, of New Enterprise, who was fifth at 141; Mike Failla, of Beach Lake, who was fifth at 197; and Pat Fitzgerald, of Port Royal, who advances in the 197-pound class as a wild card entry.

Frankenfield overcame a first-round loss with five straight wins, including two by fall; Leid went 3-2, including a pin; Champluvier went 3-2, with two pins; Replogle went 4-2 with a pair of pins; Failla was 3-2, including a pin; and Fitzgerald was 1-3.

Also for Penn College, freshman Aaron Doll, of Glen Rock, was 0-3 at 125; junior Kyle Sunseri, of Athens, was 2-3 at 149; and sophomore Cesar Gonzalez, of Woodbridge, Va., was 0-2 at 149. In all, 99 individuals competed.

In team competition, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County finished first with 137 points, Penn State Mont Alto second with 129 points, followed by Penn State DuBois, 106; West Chester, 104; University of Pittsburgh, 93; Penn College, 67; University of Delaware, 60.5; Rutgers University, 58; Lafayette, 47; Penn State New Kensington, 47; Lehigh University, 40; Slippery Rock, 27; Montclair State, 18; and Baptist Bible College, 1.

Friday, March 7 – at Southern Virginia University (2), noon
Sunday, March 9 – vs. Lancaster Bible at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 1 p.m.
Sunday, March 9 – vs. Sauk Valley Community College, at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 4 p.m.
Monday, March 10 – vs. Spoon River Community College, at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 10 a.m.
Monday, March 10 – vs.  West Virginia Wesleyan, at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 7 p.m.
Tuesday, March 11 – vs. Penn State Schuylkill, at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 10 a.m.
Wednesday, March 12 – vs. West Virginia Wesleyan, at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 13 – vs. Sauk Valley Community College, at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 3 p.m.
Saturday, March 22 – host Baptist Bible College (2) at Bowman Field, 1 p.m.

Monday, March 10 – vs. Ursinus College, 9 a.m.
Monday, March 10 – vs. SUNY IT, 11:30 a.m.

Overall record: 1-8
PSUAC record: 0-2
Friday-Sunday, March 14-16 – NCWA Championships at Allen, Texas

No. 29

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