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Softball Season Ends for Penn College; Baseball Season Extended

Over the past weekend, the season ended for the Pennsylvania College of Technology softball team while it was extended for the baseball squad.

Competing Friday and Saturday in the North Eastern Athletic Conference Championships, the Wildcats went 1-2 in their second season under coach Jackie Klahold to complete a 21-13 overall campaign, 17-8 in all NEAC games.

In their opening playoff game on Friday against Penn State Abington, third-seeded in the South Division, the Wildcats, second-seeded in the North Division, used three-hit shutout pitching and took advantage of an Abington error with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 1-0 win. Taylor Brooks, of Cogan Station, went six innings on the mound and Amanda Kustanbauter, of Muncy, closed it out. Prior to the error that produced the game’s only run, Taylor Krow, of Mechanicsburg, and Brooks had singled before Kassie Winters, of Sayre, sent a ball into shallow center that was misplayed.

Penn College’s second season came to an end on Saturday after consecutive losses in the double-elimination tournament. In the first game, the Wildcats managed just three hits in a 10-2 loss to Penn State Berks, the top seed in the South Division. Winters drove in both runs with a double. Kustanbauter took the mound loss and ended 6-6 on the year (she was fourth in the NEAC with a 2.08 ERA). In the season finale, Penn College lost to Cazenovia College, 9-1, with Brooks taking the mound loss to finish 7-3 (she was fifth in the NEAC with 90 strikeouts).

“We had some opportunities, we just didn’t capitalize,” Klahold said. “We were happy with the overall experience that the girls got because they were able to go up against some good competition throughout the tournament. We just didn’t execute on some levels and came out a little flat against Berks and Cazenovia.

“We were very happy with our season, we had a lot of program firsts, and we’re young. We’re going to be learning and taking a lot of things over to the offseason and start applying them. With the incoming class next year and a lot of returners coming back, hopefully, we will be able to make another run at it.”

Prior to the the playoffs, four Penn College players were awarded all-conference honors and Klahold was named the NEAC North Division Coach of the Year. First Team honors went to Brooks and Krow while Second Team honors went to Winters and Maddie Wenk, of Biglerville.

Brooks picked up her second consecutive First Team honor as a pitcher and outfielder and Krow earned Second Team honors last season.

Klahold became the first coach in Penn College history to earn a NEAC Coach of the Year in any sport. In two seasons under Klahold, the Wildcats are 38-33 (26-14 NEAC regular season). The 21 wins in a season tie for the second-most in school history. Penn College had 23 wins in 2007 and 21 in 2008.

“We were extremely pleased with our all-conference selections. Both our Taylors did an extremely wonderful job,” Klahold said. “(And) we were extremely proud with Kassie and Maddie being selected as Second Team,” the coach added, noting that Wenk transitioned from being the team’s catcher a year ago to playing first base this season.

“The Coach of the Year award was very humbling. I want to start a petition to have them make it a Coaching Staff of the Year award because my assistant coach Jeff (Tomb) has been tremendous in helping me become a better coach.

“Coaching these girls has been a very wonderful experience. … It’s a wonderful honor.”

On April 30, the Wildcats split a nonconference home twin bill against Alfred State, losing 9-8 and winning 6-3. Cole Hofmann, of Newtown, had the hot bat, going 5 for 7 with two doubles, three runs scored and four runs batted in.

On Wednesday, in a 9-4 nonconference win at Elmira College, Richard Lennon, of Morgantown, had three hits, including a double, and scored two runs while Ben Flicker, of Topton, and Noah Esposito, of Williamsport, each drove in two runs.

At SUNY Poly on Saturday, Penn College wrapped up a postseason berth with an 8-3 win in the first game of a scheduled doubleheader. The second game was canceled. The Wildcats put together a seven-run fifth inning highlighted by a two-run double from Cody Cline, of Waynesboro, and two-run triple by Brittan Kittle, of Millville. Max Bair, of Centre Hall, went five innings on the mound for the win and improved to 5-1.

Sunday’s scheduled home games against Keuka College were postponed by rain and will be rescheduled for early this week, weather permitting, which will help determine the playoff seeding.

Assessing his team’s season thus far, coach Chris Howard said, “We dedicated ourselves this year to focusing on what we were doing in each-and-every game. I think last year left a bad taste in a lot of the guys’ mouths (13-23 overall, 4-8 in the conference where it finished sixth among eight) and this year we rededicated ourselves to get back to the conference tournament and try to win another championship.”

Howard pointed to the play of some of the squad’s freshmen as keys in achieving those goals.

“We had a really good freshman class that came in and contributed a lot. A lot of times you don’t see that many freshmen coming in and having that big of an impact right away,” the coach said, singling out third baseman Flicker and catcher Kittle.

“(Ben) came in and offensively has really been the leader of our team. He’s hit over .400 for most of the season. His contribution to the team has been immeasurable. And he’s solidified third base defensively. His play on defense is probably just as important as what he’s done with the bat,” Howard said.

“Brittan has come in and, in terms of his leadership, has made a bigger impact than any one player has on the entire team. He’s done a great job defensively behind the plate; he’s handled the pitchers, he really takes charge, and offensively he’s hitting in the high 300s and leads the team in doubles,” Howard continued.

The double-elimination tournament is scheduled to start Friday with the highest-seeded team hosting. After Saturday’s action, Penn State Abington led the conference with a 10-2 record (14-20 overall), Penn College was second at 10-3 (22-10), Penn State Berks was 9-5 (16-18) and Keuka College 8-5 (16-15). Rounding out the conference standings are: Lancaster Bible College 8-7, SUNY Poly 7-8, Wells College 4-10, Gallaudet University 4-12 and Cazenovia College 3-11.

During the regular season, the Wildcats split with Penn State Berks on April 9, losing 19-4 and winning 15-6, and they split with Penn State Abington on April 14, winning 11-10 and losing 10-7 in a game that they led by seven before it slipped away.

Looking ahead to the playoffs, Howard said, “Berks has always been one of the top teams in the conference. … (The second game against Abington), out of the whole year I think that was probably the most disappointing game that we played to date. … We just didn’t put them away. Those are always going to be tough games, especially in a tournament; it’s just that much harder to win.

“I don’t expect anybody to come out and blow anybody out. You’re going to have to play a complete game — defense, pitching, hitting, timely hitting, which we’ve been getting this year. I look forward to it. I think it’s going to be a good tournament.”

Tournament play is scheduled to continue Saturday and Sunday.

Statistically speaking through Saturday: Lennon was fifth in the NEAC with 32 runs batted in; Bair was second with five wins and fifth with a 3.66 ERA; and Brad Walter, of Williamsport, was fifth with 45 strikeouts.

Reflecting on his teams’ season that ended a week ago, first-year coach John Machak said, “Overall, we ended the season pretty strong. Both teams (men and women) landed in the middle of the pack, which is really what I was hoping for as my goal for the first year.

“We had five guys and four girls making the individual (NEAC) playoffs, so their individual records were good enough to get into the playoffs and I was very pleased with that.

“I’m looking forward to next year. All of these young kids who are freshmen are going to be a year older. They know what they have to work on over the summer to practice to get better and next year we’re just focused on trying to get one of those top two spots. We’re pretty excited for the season to start. We started jelling as a team. They want to win, and I do, too.”

Overall record: 22-10
NEAC record: 10-3
Wednesday, May 3 – at Elmira College, W, 9-4
Saturday, May 6 – at SUNY Poly (NEAC), W, 8-3; second game canceled
Sunday, May 7 – host Keuka College at Loyalsock Township High School (NEAC, 2), ppd. to Monday or Tuesday, TBA
Friday-Sunday, May 12-14 – NEAC Championships

Final overall record: 21-13
Final NEAC record: 17-8 (16-6 regular season)
Tuesday, May 2 – host Wells College at Elm Park (NEAC, 2), canceled
Friday, May 5 – NEAC Championships vs. Penn State Abington, W, 1-0
Saturday, May 6 – NEAC Championships vs. Penn State Berks, L, 10-2
Saturday, May 6 – NEAC Championships vs. Cazenovia College, L, 9-1

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, May 19-20-21 – Outdoor Nationals at Chula Vista, Calif.

For more, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

No. 38

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