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Penn College Baseball, Softball Coaches Optimistic

While the defending champ Pennsylvania College of Technology baseball team seeks a three-peat in the Penn State University Athletic Conference, the Wildcats softball team, which finished second the past two seasons, looks to get back to the top. Both teams open their seasons Sunday in nonconference action hosting Penn State Harrisburg.

Baseball Key returnees from last spring’s team that went 20-3 during coach Chris Howard’s third season include pitchers Mark Shaffer (senior/Hanover) and Harrison Myers (sophomore/Elizabethtown), first baseman Skylar Gingrich (sophomore/Lititz), second baseman Garrett Hornung (sophomore/Emporium), shortstop Tom Hughes (sophomore/Easton), catcher Matt Mientus (sophomore/Macungie) and outfielders Alex Gingerich (sophomore/York) and Justin Crowther (senior/Bear, Del).

“Mark Shaffer is the nucleus of the pitching staff. As Mark goes, so do we. He’s always been the go-to guy,” Howard said.

“Offensively, I think we’re going to be fine. We might have to produce some more runs than we did in the past hitting and running and stealing more; bunting guys over. It’s going to be a different offense, but, honestly, I think we’ve got just as good of an offense when it comes to putting runs on the board,” the coach continued.

“I guess I’m a little cocky. I say we’re not rebuilding this year, we’re reloading. I feel that confident in these guys coming in. They’re really focused in what to do. I’m kind of excited for this team; maybe a little bit more so than I even was last year,” Howard said. “One thing I’ve never had to worry about is good ball players coming into this school and this year is no exception.”

Sunday’s twin bill will begin at noon at Bowman Field and, despite the fact that he has just six seniors and juniors on his 21-player roster, Howard isn’t concerned.

“Really, one of our most experienced areas is in the middle of the infield. We’re really solid up the middle and I think we’re going to be stronger behind the plate. “¦ Defensively, I think we’re better than we were. “¦ I think people in the league may expect us to be down, but that would be the wrong expectations,” the coach added.

Softball The Lady Wildcats are coming off a 15-13 season that included the 100th career win for ninth-year coach Roger Harris, and, although Harris views this as a rebuilding season, he has high hopes.

“We think we have just as good of a team, if not better than last year. Our outlook is very favorable,”he said.

Key players are expected to be seniors Samantha Mills (Harrisburg) and Kristin Bernard (Mifflin), junior Tiffany Deihm (junior/Mohnton), sophomore pitchers Karlee Smith (Mineral Point) and Amber Claar (Claysburg) and freshman Lacy Lose (Avis).

“Offensively, we have speed, we have power. On a scale of one to 10, we probably are a seven or an eight power-wise offensively. Defensively, we’re about an eight. I think we have a very solid infield. I hope to have a strong outfield, too,” Harris said.

“It’s a rebuilding year. We did lose a lot of the girls. But the recruits we picked up are just as solid and just as strong. The girls are just as excited, if not more excited for the season, than the coaches are,” he added.

(Complete rosters and season schedules are available on the college’s Athletics Web site. For more information on the PSUAC, visit on the Web; more about the USCAA also is available online.)