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Wildcat Softball Team in Championship Mode

Last season, his sixth as the women’s softball coach at Pennsylvania College of Technology, Roger Harris was hopeful that his young squad would have a decent year. It did, and brought home the college’s first-ever conference championship in the sport. This year, with eight of his starters returning, the Lady Wildcats have the experience and talent, but Harris is playing it close to the vest when talking about his team’s prospects. “I’d like to step out on a limb and say, yes (we’ll win another championship). But I don’t want to jinx us,” Harris said. “It’s a solid team, and we picked up a lot of new recruits. All in all, a very solid, solid team; I think one that will be in contention to bring back the title at the end. But, I choose my words carefully because they have a tendency to come back and bite us.” The Lady Wildcats are scheduled to open their season at 2 p.m. Saturday hosting Penn State Greater Allegheny at Elm Park. Key players returning from last year’s team that went 23-6 overall and 22-3 in all Penn State University Athletic Conference games are pitcher-first baseman Kristin Bernard (sophomore/Hastings), catcher-right fielder Melissa Berrier (sophomore/Mifflin), pitcher-second baseman Renee Craig (sophomore/Millville), center fielder Lauren Fuller (sophomore/South Williamsport), pitcher-second baseman Michelle McNett (sophomore/Canton), third baseman-left fielder Lisa Miller (sophomore/Cogan Station), catcher Samantha Mills (sophomore/Harrisburg) and first baseman Ann Marie Prosser (senior/Elizabethtown). Also figuring strongly in the mix this season will be third baseman Amber Claar (freshman/Claysburg), pitcher-first baseman Tiffany Deihm (freshman/Mohnton), outfielder Amber Harry (junior/Blairs Mills), outfielder Tashamonique Howlett (freshman/Williamsport), shortstop Jamye Mease (freshman/Elizabethtown) and designated hitter Trisha Moser (freshman/Watsontown). Rounding out the squad are Richanna Penn (freshman/Saylorsburg) and Alyse Poswiatowsky (freshman/Baltimore, Md.). For the most part this month, practices have taken place indoors. In fact, Monday was the first opportunity the team had to get outdoors. Harris said he likes to use the early season to “make adjustments as we go” in determining his lineup. The pitching rotation will consist of Deihm No. 1 and Bernard No. 2 with McNett and Craig being used on the mound as needed. Harris hopes to get the same kind of offensive productivity this year from the top of his batting order as he got a year ago when the top five collectively hit .500 and scored more than 140 runs. Among those five were Fuller, Mills, Miller and McNett. “Michelle McNett, last year, only struck out once all year long. Lisa Miller only struck out once all year long and hit with power. Mease and Mills and Moser can hit with power, they can punch the ball,” Harris said “Defense, I feel, we’re just as solid, if not more solid than what we were last year,” the coach assessed. “As a coach, you can teach everything they need to know when they’re on the ball field, but one thing you can’t teach is that love for the game, that passion, that hunger that makes everybody rise above somebody else. Either a player has it, or they don’t. Last year they wanted it, they did it, they threw their bodies around and made it happen. “If the girls go out and play with the intensity that they played with last year, I think there is no reason why we shouldn’t be in contention for the championship again this year.”

(Complete rosters and season schedules are available on the college’s Athletics Web site).

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