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Wildcat Archers Ready for Nationals

As the spring sports season winds down for Pennsylvania College of Technology athletes, archers are honing their skills as they prepare for the U.S. Intercollegiate Archery Championships later this week while the baseball team reflects after completing one of the best seasons in college history.

Penn College has racked up three consecutive second-place team finishes on the national stage and is hopeful of great things again as it competes Friday through Sunday in Cedar City, Utah.

“I think we have a strong but young team. I think we’re going to do very well. I have high hopes,” said Wildcats’ second-year coach Brian Parker.

“I think the season has gone very well (so far). In some ways, it has gone better than I could have hoped for with the young team I have,” he added. “Almost half of the team was new this year and it is just the second year for about all of the other half.”

Three archers will compete in each team event at nationals, except mixed events where the team is made up of one male and one female archer. Representing the college are:

Female Bowhunter – Kendel Baier, of Jersey Shore; Brianna Batykefer, of Butler; and Cayla Easley, of Carlisle.

Male Bowhunter – Joe Dowdrick III, of Lebanon; Kelvin Dewalt, of Easton; and William McFadden, of New Tripoli.

Female Recurve – Holly Neely, of Lebanon; Samantha Lantz, of Ulster; and Katie Reitbauer, of Shillington.

Male Recurve – from among Stephen Keys, of Reynoldsville; Maxwell Trainor, of Hawley; Tim Unverdorben, of Pine Grove; and Gregory Foust, of Murrysville.

Female Compound – Nicole Lapinski, of Bloomsburg; Rebecca Boyer, of Macungie; and Ashley Baker, of Coudersport.

Male Compound – from among Justus Leimbach, of Westminster, Md.; Jordan McGowan, of Carlisle; Matt Cummings, of Mountville; and Markus Weber, of La Plata, Md.

Parker will select his mixed teams based on how archers are shooting at the time.

“There are four teams that could easily win gold; any of the bowhunter or compound teams can win gold, and I wouldn’t count the recurve teams out,” Parker said.

The first half of qualifying (72 arrows) is set for Friday along with mixed team rounds. Because of the size of the field this year, with up to 350 archers expected to participate, the field is being split with recurve ranking rounds taking place in the morning and compound action in the afternoon. The second half of qualifying and team rounds will be shot on Saturday with individual elimination rounds wrapping up competition on Sunday.

Addressing the sport’s gain in popularity, Parker noted, “Archery is on its way back in. There are rumors on compounds moving into the Olympics in years to come. Everything goes in cycles and archery is coming back into its own cycle.”

The key, the coach said, will be “keeping a level head and watching their hydration. If they get fatigued, tired and dehydrated, I think it’s going to be a big factor. The temperature out there is going to be a big swing – as cool as 40 in the morning and as high as 80 in the afternoon. You’re going to get a flatter, faster shot (due to higher elevation), but we’re not used to shooting in that kind of temperature swing.”

At nationals last year, McGowan was the men’s individual bowhunter champion while Batykefer was second in female bowhunter and Baier third in female bowhunter. Cummings was a member of the team-championship men’s compound squad; Keys was on the winning men’s recurve team; Dowdrick, Dewalt and McGowan were on the winning men’s bowhunter squad; and Baier and Batykefer were on the No. 1 women’s bowhunter team. Lapinski and Cummings were All-Americans.

Penn College’s baseball team went 2-2 and finished among the top six in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Small College World Series at Pullman Field in Butler. The Wildcats finished their season 24-17 overall, with the 24 wins setting a school single-season record.

“It was a great tournament all the way around. … We pitched good, we played some really good defense and we were just hitting the ball like crazy for most of the tournament. It was a fun time to be down there,” coach Chris Howard said.

It especially was satisfying, although perhaps a bit bittersweet, that PSUAC rival Penn State Greater Allegheny, seeded fifth, battled back through the elimination bracket in the national tournament after a first-game loss and forced the “if” game on Thursday before losing 6-3 to third-seeded University of Cincinnati-Clermont and finishing second. During conference play this season, the Wildcats went 2-3 against Allegheny and finished second. En route to its second-place USCAA finish, Allegheny eliminated eighth-seeded St. Joseph’s College of Brooklyn, N.Y.; ninth-seeded Briarcliffe College, of Bethpage, N.Y.; seventh-seeded Belleville-Lindenwood, of Belleview, Ill.; fourth-seeded Selma (Ala.) University and the top-seeded Apprentice School of Newport News. It beat Cincinnati-Clermont, of Batavia, Ohio, 8-7, to force the extra game.

A pair of two-run singles by James Simasek, of Landenberg, and Rantz Mahaffey, of Linden, helped the Wildcats to a 4-0 first-inning lead in their Monday opener against seventh-seeded Lindenwood-Belleville University. An RBI single by Zachary Weil, of Kutztown, put No. 10-seed Penn College ahead 5-2 in the second frame, but Lindenwood-Belleville came back with single runs in the third and fourth innings, three runs in the fifth and one in the sixth to pull out the win. Jeremy Rall, of Williamsport, finished 3 for 4 at the plate for the Wildcats; Zachary Buterbaugh, of Conestoga, was 2 for 3 with two runs scored; and Mahaffey and Weil both ended 2 for 4. Penn College stranded 10 base runners. Pitcher Joshua Longsderff, of Columbia, took the loss.

Battling back through the elimination bracket, the Wildcats rebounded Tuesday morning with a 2-1 win over sixth-seeded Southern Virginia University, a team it had lost to twice by one run each time when it opened the season in March. Craig Watson, of McEwensville, went the seven-inning distance in hiking his season pitching record to 4-0, allowing just one run on seven hits while striking out three and walking three. Fifty-two of the 77 pitches he threw were strikes. Penn College scored its runs in the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth, Travis Hendershot, of Muncy, doubled home Weil, who reached on a double himself. In the fifth, a sacrifice fly by Weil scored Zachary Buterbaugh. Hendershot finished 2 for 3 in the game and Rall was 2 for 4. Southern Virginia left two on base in the bottom of the seventh, but the Wildcats got out of a bases-loaded jam with a game-ending double play.

That set up a Tuesday night encounter with No. 2 seed Clark State Community College, of Springfield, Ohio, during which Penn College pulled off an 8-5 upset win despite an uncharacteristic three errors in the game. Brian Santangelo, of Middletown, Conn., went the distance on the mound, fanning seven, while Weil led the Wildcats’ offense with a home run, two-run double and three runs batted in and Simasek went 3 for 4 at the plate with a two-run single in the seventh inning. Cody Buterbaugh also had two hits in the game and scored three runs. Penn College outhit Clark State, 13-7.

Facing fourth-seeded Selma University Wednesday, the game was tied at 3-all through four innings but the Wildcats gave up two runs in the fifth and dropped a 5-4 heartbreaker to be eliminated. Penn College built an early 3-0 lead with one run in the first inning and two in the third. Weil drove in the first-inning run with a single. Both runs in the third were unearned. Selma got two runs back in the bottom of the third and knotted the score in the fourth. The Buterbaugh brothers both doubled during the game and Zachary Buterbaugh, Weil and Hendershot finished with one RBI each. Pitcher Matt Demilio, of Greensburg, took the loss. The Wildcats left seven runners on base.

During the week, five players made the grade as they were named to the USCAA All-Academic Team.  The team, announced at the championships’ banquet, is comprised of players who have a 3.5 cumulative grade point average or higher and are academically a sophomore or above. Earning their way onto the team for the Wildcats were juniors Cody and Zachary Buterbaugh and sophomores Hendershot; James Scully III, of Middletown, Del.; and Zachary Yetter, of Thompsontown. In addition, Weil, who hit .340 on the season with nine doubles, two triples, three home runs and 35 RBIs, was named to the All-Tournament team.

Penn State University Athletic Conference All-Conference selections also were announced last week with Cody and Zachary Buterbaugh and Hendershot named to the first team and Longsderff to the second team.

Yetter, Hendershot and Watson will graduate, but Howard said, “We’ve got a very good intact team coming back and we’re looking to add some good arms (pitchers) and players that we’ve been talking to throughout the year.

“One thing our run this season did, and especially at nationals, it showed everybody that we’re in the top echelon of the USCAA national teams. When you get that type of confidence and see that you can play with anybody out there, usually good things happen,” added the coach, in his seventh season. “All-in-all, it was a great year. … It was nice to get a couple of wins in the national tournament to kind of catapult us on.”

Postseason honors were awarded Penn College freshman Katie Kratzer, of Selinsgrove, who was named the PSUAC Softball Newcomer of the Year. She also earned First-Team All-Conference honors, as voted on by coaches and based on performance throughout the season. Kratzer hit .404 and led the Lady Wildcats with 17 RBIs.

Final overall record: 24-17
Final PSUAC record: 19-4 (16-2 regular season)
Monday – vs. Lindenwood-Belleview, Ill., in USCAA Small College World Series, L, 8-5
Tuesday – vs. Southern Virginia University in USCAA Small College World Series, W, 2-1
Tuesday – vs. Clark State Community College in USCAA Small College World Series, W, 8-5
Wednesday – vs. Selma University in USCAA Small College World Series, L, 5-4

No. 39

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