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Trip to NCAA regionals building block for Penn College softball

Despite losing both of its games in its first trip to a NCAA Division III Regional tournament, Pennsylvania College of Technology softball coach Angie Hunley called it “a fantastic learning experience!”

Facing regional host and top-seed Virginia Wesleyan in Friday’s first game in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the sixth-seeded Wildcats were held hitless in an 8-0, five-inning loss.

VW’s Hanna Hull, one of the all-time top pitchers in Division III, set the tone with 10 strikeouts in four innings of work and recorded her DIII-record 130th career win while her teammates scored one run in the first frame, two in the third and five in the fourth, all against Penn College starter Kyla Benner, of Bethlehem.

“She is an amazing pitcher with great command and spin. I was proud of my team’s composure and the plays we were making on defense. It’s difficult facing a highly ranked team and it was great exposure for our program,” Hunley said of Hull and her teammates.

The loss snapped Penn College’s second six-game win streak of the season.

Returning to action hours later against fifth-seed Gettysburg College, the Wildcats led 3-0 after the top of the first, with the key hit a two-run single by Lesley Fritz, of Muncy, and 5-3 after four innings, following RBI singles from Maddie Hurst, of Mechanicsburg, and Jordan Specht, of Frederick, Maryland. The Bullets made it a one-run game in the fifth, just before Benner replaced starting pitcher Kassidy Svenson, of Auburn.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Gettysburg’s Olivia Mosser unloaded a two-run walk-off home run to end things as Benner fell to 9-3 and Penn College bowed out with a 19-5 record.

“We had every opportunity to win that game. And with more experience, I believe we get that done next time around. A lot of lessons were learned on the regional stage, which will serve as a building block for the future,” Hunley said.

“I think the biggest lesson we learned is how important it is to remain composed and play the game. Keeping control of our emotions and staying within ourselves is something we will continue to work on for next season,” said the second-year coach who a week ago guided her team to the North Eastern Athletic Conference championship.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the team. They earned this experience and will certainly pave the way for the future of the Wildcat softball program!” Hunley added of her squad, which finished among the top 48 of 414 DIII teams in the country.

“I can’t wait until next year to build on what we did this year. Returning as many players as we are, we expect to be competitive. We expect to give ourselves the opportunity to come right back to a competition like this,” Hunley said.

SCHEDULES/RECORDS/RESULTS
Softball
NEAC finale: 19-3 (15-3 regular season)
Overall: 19-5
Friday, May 21 – vs. Virginia Wesleyan University in NCAA Division III Regional at Virginia Beach, Va., L, 8-0 in 5 innings
Friday, May 21 – vs. Gettysburg College in NCAA Division III Regional at Virginia Beach, Va., L, 6-5
(End of season)

For more information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

For more about NEAC, visit the conference website.

No. 18