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Penn College Baseball Team Seeks Championship

While the season ended for the Pennsylvania College of Technology women’s softball team last week, it continues with a North Eastern Athletic Conference championship on the line for the baseball squad starting Friday.

In nonconference action on May 2 at Elmira College, the Wildcats built a 13-0 lead through seven innings and held on for a 14-12 victory. Cody Cline, of Waynesboro, led Penn College with four runs batted in, three coming on an inside-the-park home run.

Hosting NEAC unbeaten-at-the-time Penn State Berks on Saturday, Penn College lost by scores of 8-5 and 8-0 to go to 18-13 overall and 9-3 in the conference. In the first game, Richard Lennon, of Morgantown, drove in two runs, one with a sixth-inning home run, while Ben Flicker, of Topton, and Brittan Kittle, of Millville, each had two hits. In the second-game shutout, Penn State Berks pitcher Sean Pavlik one-hit the Wildcats, striking out six in the process.

Sunday’s scheduled home doubleheader against Penn State Abington was canceled due to the weather.

The Wildcats, seeded second and with a first-round bye, advance to the championship playoffs beginning at 3 p.m. Friday against Penn State Abington (24-11, 13-4). Top-seeded tourney host Penn State Berks (22-10, 17-1) will open play at noon on Friday against Keuka College (19-15, 12-6).

In quarterfinal play-in games on Tuesday, No. 3 Penn State Abington defeated No. 6 SUNY Poly, 13-12 in 10 innings, and No. 4 Keuka College edged No. 5 Lancaster Bible College, 5-4. The NEAC champ will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championships May 25-29 in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Last season, Penn College finished second to Penn State Berks after going 2-2 in the championship playoffs and, at the start of this season, Wildcats coach Chris Howard said, “We are one of the two teams that are picked to win it (NEAC) and we better expect everybody’s ‘A’ game every time we walk out there. The guys are ready for it. We’re the hunted, but also we’re hunting ourselves.”

The last time that Penn College played Penn State Abington was May 13, when the Wildcats won, 10-9, in a NEAC semifinal game.

Statistically speaking: Colton Riley, of Danville, is third in the NEAC with eight home runs. Flicker is ninth in the NEAC with a .389 batting average. Riley and Kittle are tied for 12th in the NEAC with 27 RBIs. Cline is eighth in the NEAC with 12 stolen bases. Pitcher Max Bair, of Centre Hall, is sixth in the NEAC with a 3.05 earned run average, tied for 11th with three wins and tied for 15th with 30 strikeouts.

NEAC standings through Sunday: Penn State Berks 17-1, Penn State Abington 12-4, Penn College 9-3, Keuka College 11-6, Lancaster Bible College 9-7, SUNY Poly 6-7, Gallaudet University 6-12, Wells College 5-13, Cazenovia College 4-14, SUNY Cobleskill 2-14.

On Thursday in a NEAC quarterfinal play-in game to reach the Final Four, Penn College knocked off SUNY Poly, 7-3, and advanced to the double-elimination conference championships. Trailing 1-0 after five innings against Poly, Elizabeth Asher, of East Stroudsburg, drove in three runs with a double in the sixth and Penn College added four runs in the seventh, including a two-run double by Morgan Heritage, of New Castle, Delaware. Heritage also went the distance on the mound, striking out 14 and upping her season record to 8-7.

“We went through two lightning delays. I think the game ended around 9:15 (p.m., after nearly four-and-a-half hours) and I was just extremely proud of our girls, just how they were resilient through the whole game,” coach Jackie Klahold said, adding, “Morgan pitched phenomenally.”

Right back in playoff action on Friday morning against eventual champion Penn State Berks, the Wildcats lost, 4-0, being limited to four hits in the process, two by Asher. That dropped them into a loser’s bracket game against Wilson College, where their season ended with a 5-2 loss later in the day, completing a 14-21 overall campaign, 8-9 in all NEAC games. In the Wilson game, Penn College doubled its number of hits from the morning, but again all were singles, three by Kristina Holland, of Mechanicsburg.

“Looking at the stats, and on paper, it would seem (that the bats went silent against Berks), but this was probably the best complete game we have played against Penn State Berks in my three years (as coach),” Klahold said.

“To keep them at bay with four runs, a short turnaround time with short rest, it was very, very good to see us play solid defense,” the coach continued. “Morgan, coming off a short turnaround, I thought she pitched very good against a very good hitting team,” Klahold said, noting that all-conference selection Taylor Krow, of Mechanicsburg, didn’t play against Berks as she was taking a classroom final.

Commenting on the season, Klahold said, “Jeff (assistant coach Jeff Tomb) and I and the girls definitely believe that we have been improving this program and we feel as if we have a team that can be competitive with any of the top teams in our conference, so we’re very proud of that.

“We probably met the expectations. … Last year, we didn’t get to the Final Four. We keep improving every year, which we did. Through the playoff round, the girls were starting to come together more as a team and playing consistently. We’re definitely looking forward to completing things next year and improving on where we ended up this year.”

Also last week, Penn College placed four players on the All-NEAC team as Krow was named to the First Team, freshman Heritage was named to the Second Team, and sophomore Alyssa Gentile, of Fairport, New York, and freshman Chelsea Gray, of Marysville, were named to the Third Team.

During the regular season, Krow, an outfielder, highlighted the selections with her second-straight First Team selection. Krow, who earned Second Team honors as a freshman in 2016, batted .381, on 37 hits from the leadoff spot, with nine runs batted in, 21 runs scored and three stolen bases. Heritage went 7-7 on the mound, 4-3 in conference, with nine complete games, and three shutouts. She allowed 3.27 runs per game and struck out nearly nine batters per game. She was named NEAC Pitcher of the Week once during the season.Gentile, a utility player, hit .380, with eight doubles, one home run and 12 RBIs. Gentile slugged .519 and had an on-base percentage .405.Gray, a third baseman, batted .352 on 31 hits, with five doubles and three triples. She brought in 16 runs and fielded .896.

“This is the first year that softball has gone from just divisional all-conference selections to the entire all-conference selections, which I think was a great move. … I think they (the choices) were all well-deserved,” Klahold said.

“We are looking forward to next year. We are looking forward to our class that is coming in. We’re looking forward to maintaining the girls that have been putting in a lot of work and time and effort into the program the past couple of years,” Klahold said, adding that the team will lose Kassie Winters, of Sayre, and Tiana McCormick, of Williamsport.

Overall: 18-13
NEAC: 9-3
Wednesday, May 2 – at Elmira College, W, 14-12
Saturday, May 5 – host Penn State Berks at Logue Field (NEAC, 2), L, 8-5; L, 8-0
Sunday, May 6 – host Penn State Abington at Bowman Field (NEAC, 2), canceled
Friday, May 11 – NEAC Championships at Penn State Berks vs. Penn State Abington, 3 p.m.
Saturday, May 12 – NEAC Championships at Penn State Berks, TBA

Final overall: 14-21
Final NEAC: 8-9 (7-7 regular season)
Sunday, April 29 – host Wells College at Elm Park (NEAC, 2), W, 8-0 in 5 innings; W, 2-1
Thursday, May 3 – host NEAC quarterfinal vs. SUNY Poly, W, 7-3
Friday, May 4 – NEAC Championships at Penn State Berks, L, 4-0
Friday, May 4 – NEAC Championships vs. Wilson College at Penn State Berks, L, 5-2
(End of season)

May 17-20 – Collegiate Outdoor Nationals at Easton Newberry Archery Center, Newberry, Fla.
(End of season)

For more about NEAC, visit the conference website.

For more information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

No. 39

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