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Penn College Baseball, Softball Teams Seek PSUAC Championships

Pennsylvania College of Technology’s baseball and softball teams step into Penn State University Athletic Conference playoffs Saturday the baseball team seeking its third straight championship and the softball team hoping to get back to the top after placing second the last two seasons.

Baseball The Wildcats (10-6 in the conference and 12-9 overall) are seeded fourth and will open against top-seeded Penn State Greater Allegheny (16-0, 21-8) at 11 a.m. at Pullman Park in Butler.

During their regular season encounters, Greater Allegheny won both games, but Penn College coach Chris Howard believes his squad is playing better now.

“The last week of the season, the best thing that can be said is our offense started coming around at the right time,” Howard said.

“We really struggled this year with getting things going on the offensive side of the ball. We just didn’t come up with those big hits that we needed here and there,” the coach continued. “We started seeing that, especially against Mont Alto (last week, two wins that assured a playoff spot).

“The guys really started to come together and I think a lot of that had to do with the urgency of the situation. The guys knew they needed to come through and they really stepped up. That’s what good teams do, when they have to perform – they do. Pitching and defense has been exactly what I thought it would be this year. We’ve been really good in those two areas. The pitching has been solid, it has kept us in every game, and the defense has been really good. If we can put some runs on the board, we’ve got a good chance.”

Howard, who is in his fourth season as coach and whose teams have gone 101-42 during that time, will start Mark Shaffer (Hanover) in the first game, Harrison Myers (Elizabethtown) in the second game and Jacob Wrenn (Granville, Mass) in the third game. Top relievers are Ethan Boyd (Roaring Springs), Ben Stover (Hershey) and Skylar Gingrich (Lititz).

Penn State Beaver (14-4, 18-11) is seeded second and Penn State Brandywine (10-6, 13-4) is seeded third in the double-elimination tourney. Those two teams will square off at 2 p.m. Saturday. Winners of the first two games will clash at 8 p.m. Saturday, while the day’s first-game losers will battle at 5 p.m. The losers’ bracket final is set for noon Sunday and the championship at 3 p.m. If a second game is needed to decide the champ, it will be played at 6 p.m. Sunday.

The winner earns an automatic berth in the United States Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships from May 10-14 in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

During the regular season, Penn College lost twice to Penn State Beaver. Its doubleheader against Penn State Brandywine was postponed Sunday and later canceled due to wet fields.

Softball After consecutive second-place finishes, coach Roger Harris would like nothing better than to see his team reclaim the championship it last won three years ago.

Penn College (10-6, 13-11) is seeded third and will take on second-seeded Penn State Hazleton (15-1, 24-8) at 4 p.m. on Nittany Lions Field in State College. Penn State Beaver (15-1, 24-16) is seeded No. 1 and Penn State New Kensington (9-7, 9-9) is seeded fourth. Those two teams will meet at 2 p.m. Saturday. First-game winners will clash at 8 p.m. that night, while first-game losers meet at 6 p.m. The losers’ bracket final is scheduled for noon Sunday with the championship game at 2 p.m. If a second game is needed to decide the title it will be played at 4 p.m. Sunday. The winner earns an automatic berth in the USCAA Championships May 9-13 at Akron, Ohio.

“The last few games of the season we were limping in on injuries. We knew we were pretty much locked into a playoff position, which meant we played some games without three or four starters. We wanted them healthy to come into the playoffs,” Harris said. “Headed into the playoffs we’re very hopeful. We come in with a rested squad, a healthy squad. We know that these teams are beatable. We’re not going in overconfident, but we know that we can hold our own against these teams.”

During the regular season, the Wildcats lost twice to both Penn State Hazleton and Penn State Beaver. Penn College split with Penn State New Kensington. Harris, who is in his ninth season as coach and owns a 113-76 career record, will use Lacy Lose (Avis) first on the mound with Karlee Smith (Mineral Point) starting the second game. Tiffany Deihm (Mohnton) will be used in relief and Amber Claar (Claysburg) could get the call if needed.

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