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The men’s tennis team at Pennsylvania College of Technology is set to open its season this week while the baseball and softball teams are coming off great early-season showings over the past week, when they went a combined 9-6 during action in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Despite a winless (0-4) fall campaign, first-year coach John Machak has high hopes for improvement for his young squad as he continues to build the program this spring.
“Some of the team have been hitting over at the West Branch Tennis Club and so we’ve already seen the benefit of hitting over the winter break as opposed to just putting the racquet down. We’re excited for the season,” Machak said.
The Wildcats are scheduled to open their season Friday at Elmira College. North Eastern Athletic Conference action begins April 1.
Starting at No. 1 singles will be freshman Blake Whitmire, of Shickshinny; sophomore Ethan Rosler, of Bloomsburg, will be at No. 2 singles; and junior Andrew Francisco, of Bronx, New York, will open at No. 3 singles.
“Right now, it’s a little wide open at the bottom end (of the lineup) … as far as our 4-5-6 (singles players) and then our doubles matchups. We need a little more practice time to see who is going to mesh well together,” Machak continued.
“The team is pretty young. … We got that one (fall) season out of the way and then we had some people move in over the winter break, so I think we’re going to have a really good spring season in the conference.
“I hope to land somewhere in the middle of the pack (NEAC) or the upper end. We’re still in the rebuilding of the program, so if we can finish second or third, that’s a success, and if we can come out on top, that’s just even better,” the coach said.
“We have some good recruits coming in for next year, so I think we’ll start to see that (improvement) within the next year. When we get another good batch of recruits, with this young squad we have right now, then we can maintain that momentum going forward,” he added.
On March 5, Penn College pounded out 13 hits in a 14-2 win over Penn State Mont Alto. Ben Flicker, of Topton, and Rylan Whitmyer, of Williamsport, each had two hits and drove in two runs. Kyle Fox, of Fleetwood, went five innings on the mound and got the win.
The Wildcats extended their win streak to three on Monday with a doubleheader sweep of Manhattanville College by scores of 3-2 and 8-3. In the 8-3 win, Penn College scored six runs in the third inning. Noah Esposito, of Williamsport, went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and one RBI. In the 3-2 win, Nate Lowe, of East New Market, Maryland, scored on a wild pitch in the seventh to secure the victory. Eli Warren, of Cross Junction, Virginia, had two hits and drove in two runs.
On Tuesday, Penn College split with North Carolina Wesleyan College, winning 7-6 in nine innings in the opener before losing 10-1. In the first game, Dylan Scaringi, of Coatesville, plated the winning run in the top of the ninth with an RBI single. Scaringi also had two of his team’s five hits in the nightcap loss.
In a 14-8 win Wednesday over Mt. Aloysius College, Flicker; Cole Hofmann, of Newtown; and Brittan Kittle, of Millville, each had three hits for Penn College, with one of Flicker’s a solo homer. On the day, Penn College batters had 19 hits.
A 10-1 loss to Catholic University on Thursday closed out a 5-2 week for the Wildcats. Scaringi had two of Penn College’s six hits.
In their season-opening games on March 5, the Wildcats beat Cedar Crest College, 8-3, before losing to Eastern Mennonite University, 7-2. Against Cedar Crest, Taylor Krow, of Mechanicsburg, and Sophie Coldsmith, of Gettysburg, each had three hits, including doubles, to lead a 14-hit attack. Krow drove in two runs and Coldsmith scored three times. Taylor Brooks, of Cogan Station, went the seven-inning distance on the mound to pick up the win. Penn College was limited to three hits against Eastern Mennonite.
On Monday, Penn College picked up two wins, beating Rhode Island College, 5-1, and Medaille College, 4-2. In the second game, Amanda Kustanbauter, of Muncy, pitched all seven innings, allowing six hits in gaining the win. Against Rhode Island, Elizabeth Asher, of East Stroudsburg, had a three-run double in the fifth inning to lift the Wildcats.
After an off day on Tuesday, Penn College lost both of its games on Wednesday: 4-0 to Hilbert College and 8-1 to Ursinus. Against Hilbert, Brooks had two of the team’s seven hits. Against Ursinus, the Wildcats managed just four hits, including a triple by Brooks.
Wrapping up the week on Thursday, the Wildcats lost to Gwynedd Mercy, 8-7, before topping Summit University, 11-1, to conclude a 4-4 week. In the first game, Krow went 3-for-4 with a triple and Kelsey Gantz, of South Williamsport, had two hits and drove in two runs with a double. In the second game, Penn College had a six-run first to propel the win. Asher went 3-for-3 with a two-run double and ended the game with four RBIs and two runs scored. Krow also had three hits during the contest, as did Alyssa Gentile, of Fairport, New York.
Despite splitting its eight games, second-year coach Jackie Klahold saw plenty of room for improvement.
“I think collectively, as a coaching staff and as a team, we’re coming back … knowing that we had a couple of games that we should have won and put away and finished. There were missed opportunities for us and we know we could have come back 6-2,” Klahold said. “We want to focus on putting teams away when we need to put them away and refocus on the fundamentals.
“We were very impressed with how our pitchers were handling certain situations. They were doing an excellent job of getting ahead of batters and making great pitches. Our team ERA is hovering around a 2.0 and we could not have asked anything more.
“Offensively, we were extremely impressed with some of the younger hitters coming out and really performing collectively. … Our offense ended the week with almost a .330 batting average and that’s extremely impressive,” Klahold said.
Last season, Krow hit .397 and topped the team with 31 runs scored, Brooks hit .394 and had three home runs, and Gantz hit .363.
“Defensively, we need to focus a little more on the fundamentals and pick it up and get it together,” Klahold continued.
In addition to Kustanbauter and Brooks, the Wildcats will use sophomore Kassie Winters, of Sayre, on the mound. The team’s lineup will be adjusted according to whoever is pitching.
Penn College was picked to finish sixth in a preseason poll of the conference coaches. The top three in each division will make the playoffs and achieving that mark is something Klahold is looking for.
“While we are returning a good portion of our returners, we still have a very young team that still needs to bring it together and realize their full potential offensively, defensively and pitching-wise. I’m happy with that (being picked sixth), but they know the responsibility that comes with it,” she said, adding, “… we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Overall record: 5-3
NEAC record: 0-0
Sunday, March 5 – vs. Penn State Mont Alto at Myrtle Beach, S.C., W, 14-2
Monday, March 6 – vs. Manhattanville College at Myrtle Beach, S.C., W, 3-2; W, 8-3
Tuesday, March 7 – vs. North Carolina Wesleyan College at Myrtle Beach, S.C., W, 7-6 (9 inn.); L, 10-1
Wednesday, March 8 – vs. Mt. Aloysius College at Myrtle Beach, S.C., W, 14-8
Thursday, March 9 – vs. Catholic University at Myrtle Beach, S.C., L, 10-1
Friday, March 24 – at Pitt-Bradford (2), 1 p.m.
Overall record: 4-4
NEAC record: 0-0
Sunday, March 5 – vs. Cedar Crest College at Myrtle Beach, S.C., W, 8-3
Sunday, March 5 – vs. Eastern Mennonite University at Myrtle Beach, S.C., L, 7-2
Monday, March 6 – vs. Medaille College at Myrtle Beach, S.C., W, 4-2
Monday, March 6 – vs. Rhode Island College at Myrtle Beach, S.C., W, 5-1
Wednesday, March 8 – vs. Hilbert College at Myrtle Beach, S.C., L, 4-0
Wednesday, March 8 – vs. Ursinus College at Myrtle Beach, S.C., L, 8-1
Thursday, March 9 – vs. Gwynedd Mercy University at Myrtle Beach, S.C., L, 8-7
Thursday, March 9 – vs. Clarks Summit University at Myrtle Beach, S.C., W, 11-1
Thursday, March 16 – at Wilkes University (2), 4 p.m.
Sunday, March 19 – host SUNY Potsdam (2), 11 a.m.
Overall record: 0-4 (fall)
NEAC record: 0-0
Friday, March 17 – at Elmira College, 4 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday, March 11-12 – Indoor Nationals at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.
For more, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.