PSUAC Baseball, Softball Pairings Announced; Play Begins Wednesday
Penn College and Penn State Beaver finished tied in conference play with 16-4 records, but Penn College earned the top seed by allowing fewer runs per game in PSUAC play 3.25 to 4.6. Penn State Brandywine is seeded No. 3 and Penn State Scranton No. 4. In Wednesday's openers at Bowman Field, Penn State Beaver faces Penn State Brandywine at 10 a.m. and Penn College and Penn State Scranton square off at 1 p.m. Action continues later that day with games at 4 and 8 p.m. with first-game winners against each other and first-game losers against each other.
Games on Thursday are set for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. If an extra game is needed to decide the championship, it will be played at 4 p.m. that afternoon.
"We're playing good. The defense is solid right now. We're getting all of the timely hits. And, more importantly, our pitching has been doing really well. It's nice to have your pitching in line once you get into a tournament like this where you've got possibly three to five games in a two-day span," said coach Chris Howard, whose team is 28-13 overall (including a 16-7 fall season).
"I'm really excited about the tournament. We've just got to keep playing hard. I've always said that the only team that I think can beat us is us."
Mark Shaffer (sophomore/Hanover) is the ace of the staff with a 10-1 record. Also in the five-man rotation are Dan Preston (sophomore/Little Meadows), John Vitovsky (junior/Waymart), Jeff Lucas (freshman/Bellefonte) and Tony Harman (freshman/Montgomery).
"Shaffer and Preston are our two top guns and they'll be working on two days' rest. We'll see how they are and go from there. We've got five quality starters so I'm not going to worry about putting any one of them out there on Wednesday," Howard said. "The guys are hungry and they are playing well. They're determined. If we go out and do our job and play hard, good things will happen."
Penn State Beaver earned the top softball seed with a 19-1 record, the Lady Wildcats are second at 17-3, Penn State Hazleton is third at 15-3 and Penn State Allegheny fourth at 11-7. At 5 p.m. Wednesday at Elm Park , Penn College and Penn State Hazleton square off on Field No. 2 and Penn StateBeaver and Penn State Allegheny clash on Field No. 1. Play continues later that night at 7 with first-game winners against each other and first-game losers against each other.
Games on Thursday are set for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. If an extra game is needed to decide the championship, it will be played at 3 p.m. that afternoon.
The Wildcats split their regular-season finale with Penn State Hazleton on Saturday after beating Briarcliff, a NCAA Division III college, twice on Friday.
"I think we used up all of our energy on Friday night. The girls really wanted Briarcliff, they really did. I think they ran out of a little bit of steam, but they regrouped after the first one," Penn College coach Roger Harris said.
Penn College enters the playoffs as the defending champion and Harris believes another title is very possible.
"Overall, the girls have played exceptional ball, they really have. One of the things that has haunted us is, every once in a while, you have a meltdown, you have a few errors. I have a hitting ball club and in most cases they can hit their way back, but you can only afford to give up so much before hitting your way back doesn't work," said the coach, whose team is 19-3 overall.
"We can't go into the playoffs and have unearned runs. We can't have passed balls. If we can get over that and if we can play error-free ball, I think these girls have a great chance of defending their state title," Harris continued.
Tiffany Deihm, a freshman from Mohnton who is 8-0 this season, will get the starting nod for pitching duty in the playoff opener. "She has been an incredible starter for us," Harris said. "Tiff has earned the right (to start) going into Game 1."
Also expected to see action on the mound are Kristin Bernard, a sophomore from Hastings, and Renee Craig, a sophomore from Millville.
Key run production has come from the team's No. 2 through No. 5 hitters in the lineup Jamye Mease (freshman/Elizabethtown), Lisa Miller (sophomore/Cogan Station), Michelle McNett (sophomore/Canton) and Samantha Mills (sophomore/Harrisburg) who have combined for 10 home runs. "It's hard to pitch around them," Harris noted.
"These girls can play incredible ball and there is no doubt in my mind that they are a championship team. They need to go into the playoffs knowing that themselves, believing in themselves," Harris added. "If they play like they played Briarcliff ...They stepped up. It was a challenge to them."
( Complete rosters and season schedules are available on the college's Athletics Web site ).