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Penn College Softball, Baseball Teams in PSUAC Playoffs Friday

Despite adversity throughout their seasons due, in part, to poor spring weather resulting in inconsistent play, and injuries Pennsylvania College of Technology softball and baseball teams have met the preseason expectations of their coaches.

Roger Harris, in his 10th year as softball coach, and Chris Howard, in season No. 5 at the helm of the baseball program, thought their respective squads would be playoff contenders. The softball team will enter Friday’s Penn State University Athletic Conference championships as the No. 3 seed and the baseball team earned the No. 4 spot after splitting with Penn State Beaver in its regular-season finale Thursday.

Both double-elimination tournaments, softball action will take place at the Penn State Altoona campus with games scheduled for noon (No. 2 seed Penn State Mont Alto, 13-3 in the conference and 16-3 overall, vs. Penn College, 9-3, 13-11); 2 p.m. (No. 1 seed Penn State Beaver, 14-0, 21-9, vs. No. 4 seed Penn State Hazleton, 9-5, 12-12) and 4 p.m. (loser’s bracket) and 6 p.m. (winner’s bracket) Friday and 11 a.m. (semifinal) and 1 p.m. (championship) Saturday. If an extra game is needed to decide the champion, it will be played at 3 p.m. Saturday.

In baseball eliminations at Medlar Field in State College, Penn College (11-7, 20-9) meets No. 5 Penn State Mont Alto (11-7, 11-9) at 2:30 p.m. Friday, No. 2 Penn State Brandywine (14-4, 16-9) faces No. 3 Penn State Beaver (11-6, 11-17) at 4:30 p.m. Friday and No. 1 Greater Allegheny (15-1, 23-10) plays the day’s first-game winner at 7:30 that night. Games are scheduled at noon and 3 and 6 p.m. Saturday, with the championship set for 10 a.m. Sunday. If an extra game is needed to decide the title, it will be played at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Softball “At the end of the season, we’re fighting to get girls at games. Obviously, everything has been pushed back. The girls have classes and it’s just jamming up at the end. We hope we can go into the playoffs with our main team and make a good run,” Harris said.

During the regular season, the Wildcats split with Penn State Mont Alto, winning 4-2 and losing 12-4, and split with Penn StateHazleton, losing 6-5 and winning 9-4. Their scheduled games against Penn State Beaver were postponed over the Easter weekend.

“We feel that, no matter who we go up against, we’ve got to play our “˜A’ game and keep errors down. I think we’ll be fine and hold our own with any of them,” Harris said.

Penn College lost starting shortstop and offensive leader Amanda Baney (Williamsport) to injury during a game against Penn State Harrisburg, but Harris said others have kept the team going in a positive direction.

“I said at the beginning, we have a deep team. Everybody knew when (Amanda) went down, they would have to step up and fill that hole,” Harris said, noting that Amber Eck (Williamsport) now is playing shortstop.

Throughout the season, and during the playoffs, the Wildcats rely on pitchers Tiffany Deihm (Mohnton) and Lacy Lose (Avis). Deihm tossed a no-hitter Tuesday and Lose a one-hitter in wins over Penn State Schuylkill.

“Going into the playoffs, I think our girls will do very well,” the coach said.

Baseball A nine-game win streak over the past two weeks got the baseball team back into playoff contention after a dismal conference start.

“We put ourselves into a position where we had to win almost every game and, so far, we’ve done that,” Howard said before splitting with Penn State Fayette on Wednesday and Penn State Beaver on Thursday. “The guys are excited and fired up.”

“We have to take care of business. We can’t worry about how many guys we have to play. When I picked this team in the fall, we were deep in every position and I’m confident with everybody I put out there. “¦ Winning ball games is the only thing on our minds,” Howard said.

Commenting on the top two seeds, Howard said, “They’re both good ball teams. They both really put it to us the first four games of the year (Penn College fell to Greater Allegheny 12-3 and 4-1 and was beaten by Brandywine 7-3 and 2-1.) We hadn’t been out on the field for three weeks, but I told the guys, “˜No excuses.’ Can we compete and beat them? Sure. But we have to play a good brand of baseball.

“This time of year, it boils down to the team that doesn’t make the mistakes. The team that executes and makes its pitches and drives in guys with less than two outs, those are the teams that are going to win,” the coach added.

Offensive leaders for the Wildcats have been Skylar Gingrich (Lititz), Ryan Weachock (Pottsville), Brett Braker (Northampton) and Garrett Hornung (Emporium). Key pitchers are Harrison Myers (Lebanon), Joshua Longsderff (Columbia), Brian Santangelo (Middletown, Conn.) and Jarod Bull (Jacobus).

“I think some of the guys we needed to get hot are starting to get hot at the right time. “¦ We’re accustomed to winning championships and we’re not looking to do anything but win a conference championship,” Howard said.

“I told the guys this is where we have to lock and load,” Howard said. “They’ve worked hard all year. Every year I say to myself, ‘There is no way I can get a group that is as dedicated as the one before,’ and these guys have proven me wrong. I’m as proud of these guys as of any team I’ve ever had.

“It’s been such a trying year. We have yet to have an official practice outside on a baseball field since March 10 when we were in South Carolina. The fact that we can even be in the position we are right now, and not have a single practice outside, is just a testament to how dedicated these guys really are.

“I have every confidence that we are going to go out there and give it everything we have. I think this could be an opportunity to be a really exciting week,” he added.

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