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Three Penn College teams headed to playoffs

With the regular season behind them, United East Conference playoffs loom for Pennsylvania College of Technology spring sports teams in men’s lacrosse, baseball and women’s softball.

Postseason action gets underway on Wednesday in men’s lacrosse when the third-seeded Wildcats travel to second-seeded St. Mary’s (Md.) College for a 5 p.m. match.

Softball and baseball double-elimination playoffs begin on Friday with the regular-season conference and defending conference champion softball team hosting the tournament at Elm Park and opening against fourth-seed Penn State Abington at 10 a.m. while Penn College’s third-seeded baseball team squares off Friday at a time to be decided against second-seed Penn State Abington. The baseball tournament is being hosted by conference champ Penn State Harrisburg.

Men’s lacrosse
One week after scoring a program-record 23 goals, the Wildcats did themselves three better in their regular-season finale on Saturday when they toppled La Roche University, 26-1, to go to 4-2 in the UE and 9-7 overall.

James Thatcher, of Bala Cynwyd, and Nick Condrasky, of Irwin, each earned five points in the win – Thatcher with two goals and three assists and Condrasky with one goal and four assists. Brendan Kuczma, of New Fairfield, Connecticut, added three goals, while Dylan Klemas, of Narvon, won 15 of 16 faceoffs. Penn College led in shots, 75-4, and in shots on goal, 51-4. James Cella, of Cape May, New Jersey, made three saves in goal in improving to 8-7.

Also last week, Thatcher was named to the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association/Dynamic National Team of the Week for the week ending on April 24 after he provided much of the offense in a week where the Wildcats went 1-1. In a loss to St. Mary’s College, he scored a hat trick while assisting on three goals. He then matched that point output with another six in a win over Medaille College by scoring one goal and adding five assists. Thatcher leads the team with 70 points on 31 goals and 39 assists.

“We had a great season in a lot of ways. We finished 9-7 and earned another opportunity to compete in the postseason. Playing in May is a privilege you earn by laying bricks throughout the year. We improved each and every game, and while we have a very young group, we gathered valuable experience to put us in the position we are in now,” second-year coach Jordan Williams said.

“If you saw us last fall, even the first few games of the spring, you wouldn’t recognize us. Anytime you finish over .500 as a new program it is something to be proud of, but with that said I know our group would love a second shot at all of our losses on the year,” Williams continued.

“Luckily, we have that opportunity on Wednesday against an extremely skilled, experienced, and well-coached St Mary’s College of Maryland (5-1 UE, 12-4 overall). They have played one of the toughest out-of-conference schedules in the country, facing off against multiple top 25 teams and three 10 teams in the country,” Williams said.

“We know they will be ready to go this week. They are going to come out firing at home in front of their fans and we are fully expecting that. I believe we match up with them well and we saw that in our regular season contest a few weeks ago (13-8 St. Mary’s win). If we play our brand of lacrosse, pressure them, and play tough, we will put ourselves in a position to compete for 60 minutes. That is all we are looking for,” Williams said.

“If we play tough, play fast, and play together we are confident in our ability to on the field. At the end of the day, we are grateful to still be playing and I can tell you the team is ecstatic for this game. (The) best part about this is we control our destiny – if we win we keep playing, if we lose we are done. Nothing better than that.” Williams added.

In the other semifinal, top-seeded, six-time defending conference champ SUNY Morrisville will host Hilbert College. Wednesday’s winners will advance to the championship match on Saturday.

United East final standings: SUNY Morrisville, 6-0; St. Mary’s (Md.) College, 5-1; Penn College, 4-2; Hilbert College, 3-3; Wells College, 2-4; Medaille College, 1-5; La Roche University, 0-6.

In nonconference play at home on April 25, Penn College split with Penn State Altoona, losing 3-2 and winning 7-3. In the first game, Tyler Rudolph, of Hemlock, New York, had two hits and drove in both runs while starting pitcher Zach Ellis, of Gilbertsville, went 5 2/3 innings and took the loss. In the second game, Shane Price, of Kersey, ripped a grand-slam home run in the fourth inning to key the win. On the mound, Andrew Snyder, of Whitehall, the third of four Wildcat pitchers, went 1 2/3 innings to get the “W.”

Returning to UE action at home on Friday, the Wildcats dropped the first of a three-game weekend series against Penn State Berks, 6-5. Price and Jake Wagner, of Palmyra, each drove in two runs, while Zac Weaver, of Pottstown, took the loss in relief of starting pitcher Sam Zeigler.

Winding up its regular season in a Saturday doubleheader against Berks, Penn College won, 9-0 and 13-2, to go to 13-8 in the UE and 20-16 overall. In the opener, pitcher Ben Bretzman, of Bendersville, showed the form that earned him all-conference first-team honors a year ago with a two-hit shutout, striking out six and walking two. Rudolph went 3 for 3 with a home run, two runs batted in and two runs scored, while Price and Nate Gustkey, of Philipsburg, each drove in two runs. In the second game, Price homered and had four RBIs, while Jacob Carles, of Bernville, went 4 for 4 with three RBIs and three runs scored, and Cameron Dick, of Dillsburg, 3 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs scored. On the mound, Wildcats starter Chance Webb, of Hughesville, allowed two hits in five shutout innings of work to improve to 4-2.

United East final standings: Penn State Harrisburg, 19-2; Penn State Abington, 17-4; Penn College, 13-8; Lancaster Bible College, 13-8; Penn State Berks, 9-12; St. Mary’s (Md.), 8-12; Wells College, 3-17; Gallaudet University, 1-20.

Penn State Harrisburg pushed three runs across the plate in the first inning en route to a 4-3 win that snapped the Wildcats’ all-time win streak at 15 games on Tuesday but Penn College earned a road split with a 2-1 second-game UE victory. The opener pitted two of the conference’s top pitchers in Penn College’s Kyla Benner, of Bethlehem, and Harrisburg’s Carissa Yeager. This time, Yeager had the upper hand in improving to 18-4 while Benner suffered her fourth loss against 12 wins. Benner led her team with two hits, however, and drove in one run. In the second game, Penn College got clutch performances from pitcher Mackenzie Weaver, of Montoursville, as she not only improved to 12-2 on the mound but also drove in the game-winning run with a two-out double in the top of the sixth inning. The Wildcats’ first run came in the third inning after Madison Shaffer, of Trout Run, drilled a one-out double and then scored on a single by Maddie Hurst, of Mechanicsburg.

In a UE Friday doubleheader at fourth-place Penn State Abington, conference-leading Penn College dropped the first game, 6-3, and won the second, 13-3 in five innings. Abington had three-run third and fifth innings to earn its first-game win and hand the Wildcats their third conference loss of the season. Olivia Hemstock, of Northford, Connecticut, had two hits, drove in a run and scored a run for Penn College. Benner took the mound loss with three innings of work. A four-run first inning, three-run fourth and five-run fifth lifted Penn College in the second game and made a mound winner of Weaver, who struck out nine, walked one and helped her cause by going 2 for 3, including a double, with four RBIs. Also, Margaret Mangene, of Boalsburg, and Hailey DeBrody, of Cogan Station, each drove in three runs for the Wildcats.

On Saturday at Penn State Berks, Penn College wrapped up its regular season with a 6-2 and 3-1 twin bill sweep to go to 25-3 in the UE and 27-8 overall. In the first contest, Hemstock had three hits, drove in two runs and scored one to back the six-hit pitching of Benner, who went the seven-inning distance while improving to 13-5. In the nightcap, Weaver improved to 14-2 with a four-hitter. Hemstock and Jordan Specht, of Frederick, Maryland, each drove in a run for the Wildcats.

Also last week – and for the third time this season – Benner was named United East Pitcher of the Week as she went 2-0, totaled 30 strikeouts, surrendered two hits, allowed no runs and fired her second perfect game of the season for the period of April 18-24.

United East final standings: Penn College, 25-3; Penn State Harrisburg, 22-6; Penn State Berks, 21-7; Penn State Abington, 19-9; Lancaster Bible College, 13-15; SUNY Morrisville, 6-22; Gallaudet University, 6-22; Wells College, 0-28.

Shooting outdoors in a competitive match for the first time this season – following a nearly two-month layoff – Penn College archers fared well April 23-24 in the USA Eastern Regional Collegiate Championships at James Madison University.

The men’s fixed pins team of Dyson Renn, of Hellam; Artley Cooper, of Honey Brook; and Jason Balmer, of Ephrata, edged James Madison University, 198-197, for the gold and the Wildcats’ men’s compound team of Noah Burke, of Tionesta; Brandon Fisher, of McClure; and Alex Edwards, of Kutztown, took silver after being outscored by Alfred State, 209-190, in the final.

Individually for Penn College, Renn was second in men’s fixed pins; Cooper was fourth in men’s fixed pins; Grant Walters, of Dover, was fourth in men’s barebow; and Edwards was fifth in men’s compound. Also, Fisher was seventh in men’s compound; Burke was ninth in men’s compound; Balmer was ninth in men’s fixed pins; and Jon Vough, of Athens, was 13th in men’s compound.

For their efforts, Renn and Burke were named to the All-East squad.

“I am looking forward to our men’s fixed pins and men’s compound teams competing in the National Outdoor Collegiate Championships. Going into the NOCC, we have a few archers in the running to make the 2022 USA Archery Collegiate All-American Team. This season was a success to be able to get all the required competitions in with no interruptions as we have had in the past,” coach Dustin Bartron said.

Reflecting on her recently completed seasons, fourth-year coach Jessica Bower said of the men, who finished 6-7 overall and 1-4 in the conference, “We started off on a high note with a 5-1 fall season. Our only loss was to Susquehanna, which is always a very strong competitor.

“We had a stacked roster with solid players at numbers one through four, respectively, in Tucker Phillippe-Johansson, of Mattituck, New York; Alex Norris, of Williamsport; Paul Langbein, of Carnegie; and Jesse Kight, of Williamsport. The top four men were hungry for a good season and certainly produced in the fall. We were looking forward to a great spring season with our UE conference matches.”

That optimism took a hit in the team’s first match of the spring, however, when Norris suffered a season-ending injury that resulted in a juggled lineup that, according to Bower, left some players “challenged beyond their ability and suffered losses.”

Even so, Phillippe-Johansson finished 8-6 at No. 1 singles and Langbein was 9-4 at No. 2 singles. And they teamed for an 11-3 doubles record.

Collegiate careers are over for Phillippe-Johansson and Tommy Cavanaugh, of New Hope, and, said Bower, “both have been good leaders for the team and bring the team together to motivate each other.”

Phillippe-Johansson leaves the program as one of its most decorated, according to the coach, having been named the conference Rookie of the Year as a freshman, when he earned all-conference first-team honors at No. 2 singles and doubles; after a COVID-shortened sophomore season, was named the conference Player of the Year as a junior when he became for the first Penn College player in the NCAA era to complete the season undefeated in singles (5-0); and this school year he was honored twice as the UE Player of the Week. He closed out his career with records of 23-12 in singles and 24-11 in doubles.

“We are looking forward to next year and continuing to improve our record and qualify for the postseason. We have a couple of good recruits coming in who will help bolster the top of the lineup. We need to not only be able to count on the top of the lineup but the guys on the bottom (4, 5, 6) need to be able to come up with some wins as well,” Bower said of her men.

The Penn College women ended with a 3-11 overall record, Bower noted, which was the best record since 2015-16 when they were 3-10.

“The women were definitely showed how versatile they can be. We had women who were playing in the bottom of the lineup in the fall and at the top in the spring and vice versa. We lost a couple of players from the fall to the spring season but we also picked up Kelly Williams, of Marion, New York, from the soccer team for the spring season. The top of our spring lineup was a good combination of Delaney Bouton, of Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, at No. 1 singles; and Mary Kathryn Hillman, of Quakertown, at No. 2 singles, and they teamed together at No. 1 doubles. Their scores may not have shown their efforts but they certainly gave 110% on the court,” Bower said.

Williams; Alexis Youse, of Pottstown; and Marcie Harman, of Nescopeck, have ended their careers, and Bower said, “Alexis was a strong competitor at No. 4 and No. 5 singles. She was a win that we could count on. Marcie only played one match with us this spring due to time constraints for her major. Kelly was new to tennis but being a soccer player she had the footwork down and we just needed to work on strokes. She was a quick learner and hopefully, she will continue playing recreationally.

“I am very proud of both teams in their sportsmanship and effort displayed on the court. Many of the players congregate with their opponents off the courts and then create friendships through social media and look forward to playing each other the next season. Their opponents frequently state how much they enjoy playing Penn College tennis players even if they get beaten by a Penn College tennis player. One player said that he loved playing Tucker, ‘this guy is clutch and I love playing him.’ I should add that Tucker beat him easily.”

Overall under Bower, the Wildcat men have gone 13-18 and the women 7-25.

Overall: 20-16
UE: 13-8
Monday, April 25 – host Penn State Altoona (2), L, 3-2; W, 7-3
Wednesday, April 27 – at Mt. Aloysius College, canceled
Friday, April 29 – host Penn State Berks (UE), L, 6-5
Saturday, April 30 – host Penn State Berks (UE, 2), W, 9-0; W, 13-2
Friday through Sunday, May 6-8 –United East Tournament at Penn State Harrisburg (Penn College vs. Penn State Abington; Penn State Harrisburg vs. Lancaster Bible College), TBA

Overall: 27-8
UE: 25-3
Tuesday, April 26 — at Penn State Harrisburg (UE, 2), L, 4-3; W, 2-1
Friday, April 29 — at Penn State Abington (UE, 2), L, 6-3; W, 13-3 (5 innings)
Saturday, April 30 — at Penn State Berks (UE, 2), W, 6-2; W, 3-1
Friday through Sunday, May 6-8 — Host United East Tournament at Elm Park (Friday: Penn College vs. Penn State Abington, 10 a.m.; Penn State Harrisburg vs. Penn State Berks, noon)

Men’s lacrosse
Overall: 9-7
UE: 4-2
Saturday, April 30 – at La Roche University (UE), W, 26-1
Wednesday, May 4 – United East semifinals at St. Mary’s (Md.) College, 5 p.m.
Saturday, May 7 – United East Championship, TBA

Saturday-Sunday, April 23-24 – USA Eastern Regional Collegiate Championships at Harrisonburg, Va., one team gold, one team silver, one individual silver
Friday-Sunday, May 19-22 – USA Archery Collegiate Target Nationals at the Easton Archery Center of Excellence, Chula Vista, Calif.

For more about the United East, visit the conference website.

For additional information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

No. 37

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