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Penn College Baseball Team on a Mission

After a successful fall campaign under first-year coach Chris Howard, the Pennsylvania College of Technology baseball team is set to resume its quest for a second straight conference championship.

The Wildcats, who went 13-7 overall in the fall and 11-1 in Penn State University Athletic Conference games where they won the midseason tournament, are scheduled to open their spring season at 1 p.m. Saturday with a doubleheader at Penn State Scranton.

“We’ve got our nucleus back, we just had to fill some holes here and there. From the workouts we’ve had so far, we look like we’re not going to miss a step,” Howard said.

Key returnees include twin brothers James and Phil Woodring of Waynesboro, a junior and sophomore at second base and shortstop, respectively; Cody Lytle (sophomore/Watsontown) at third base, Levi Bailey (freshman/Harrisburg) at first base and pitchers Mark Shaffer (sophomore/Hanover), Christian Worth (sophomore/Williamsport) and Dan Preston (sophomore/Little Meadows).

James Craft (sophomore/York) will start behind the plate with Joe Vassallo (sophomore/Windsor, Conn.) in right field, Justin Crowther (freshman/Bear, Del.) in left field and either Mike Leone (senior/Philadelphia), Alex Eastman (freshman/Meshoppen) or Justin Trefsger (freshman/Ashland) in center field. Devin Liquori (sophomore/Hawley) will see some time in right field and be the primary designated hitter.

Also on the team are infielders Brian Johnson (freshman/Montoursville) and Doug Sponseller (sophomore/Hanover), catchers Gene Raser (freshman/Birdsboro) and Courtney Schreiner (junior/St. Thomas), outfielder Kevin Wolf (freshman/Nazareth) and pitchers Will Moser (freshman/Scranton), Mike McCloskey (freshman/Springfield), Jordan Adams (freshman/Millerton) and Matt Doherty (freshman/Oxford, N.J.).

“It’s been tough to get outside, but the pitchers have gotten a lot of good work off the mound indoors,” Howard said.

“The biggest problem we had in the fall (with pitchers), we got into trouble with walking hitters. A lot of times our offense bailed us out. We’re going to score runs, we’ve just got to hold people and that’s what we’ve been working on. I’d like to cut down on the walks by at least half from what we did in the fall,” the coach said. “If the pitchers do their job, we will have a successful season.”

Howard, a former major league catcher in the Seattle Mariners organization, thinks that in addition to a good-hitting club, defense will be strong.

“Our infield defense is as good or better than anybody in the state; Division I, too. The only question mark I have in terms of defense is center field. Not that the guys out there can’t do the job, it’s just that they haven’t been out there. They’re untested,” the coach continued.

“They had a good fall season, but winter comes and you can’t get out. From the swings in the cage, the guys kept themselves in good shape. A lot of guys came back bigger and stronger and I was really pleased.

“You never really know (how they’re going to do) until you get out there and start playing, but I’m just as confident now as I was when I saw them in the fall. It’s just a matter of going out and putting it together,” Howard added. “Hopefully, we can get out there and get going and make a run at another championship.”

(Complete rosters and season schedules are available on the college’s Athletics Web site.)

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