Penn College Baseball Team Sets High Goals
Pennsylvania College of Technology's baseball team continues pursuit of its second straight Penn State University Athletic Conference championship when it returns to the field Saturday at 1 p.m. at Penn State New Kensington.
"After a long winter, you're always excited to get those first games out of the way," coach Chris Howard said. "You get tired of all the batting practice and ground balls. You want to get out there and start playing."
"We seem to be coming together pretty good. Our pitching staff is starting to take shape. The hitters are starting to get their timing back. We'll be ready on Saturday. The guys worked hard over the winter. I know they're ready to go," the third-year coach continued.
During the fall portion of its schedule, the Wildcats posted a 14-6 overall record. They were 8-2 in conference games and start the spring two games behind Penn State Brandywine in the standings.
Probable starters in the Wildcats' pitching rotation are Mark Shaffer (sophomore/Hanover), Adam Thomke (junior/South Williamsport), Harrison Myers (freshman/Elizabethtown) and southpaw Brian Penyak (freshman/Easton). Relievers are Christian Worth (senior/Williamsport), John Burns (freshman/Lansdale), Skylar Gingrich (freshman/Lititz) and P.J. Horn (sophomore/Pittsburgh).
"With the way the playoffs are, you've got to have a pretty deep staff or you're just not going to go very far," Howard said. "You end up playing multiple games in a short period of time and if you don't have enough pitchers you're not going to go far."
James Craft (senior/York) returns behind the plate. Also expected to see some catching time is Matthew King (freshman/South Hampton). Several players will see action in the infield, among them Devon Liquori (senior/Hawley) at first base, Gingrich at first, Garrett Hornung (freshman/Emporium) and Asiell Gonzalez (freshman/Williamsport) platooning at second base, Phil Woodring (senior/Waynesboro) at shortstop and Thomke at third base, along with Gingrich. Tom Hughes (freshman/Easton) will back up Woodring at short and Tyler Rice (freshman/Trumbull, Conn.) could see action anywhere in the middle infield.
Matt Mientus (freshman/Macungie) will open in left field, Dane Glick (sophomore/Belleville) in center field and Justin Crowther (sophomore/Bear, Del.) in right field. Also expected to see time in the outfield are Joe Vassallo (senior/Windsor, Conn.), Brett Braker (sophomore/Northampton) and Alex Gingerich (freshman/York).
"We've got a good bunch of seniors. I've always been impressed with guys like Phil and Devon and Crafty. They show these younger guys how we do things here. They're invaluable, not just because of how well they play but the type of leaders they are. They're passing the torch," Howard said.
"I've got high expectations for this team. We've got the pitching staff. We've certainly got the offense. We've got to come out every single game ready to play."
Assessing his team's offense and defense, Howard said, "We're going to be fine offensively. We've got guys who can swing the bat from both sides of the plate. We've got some guys who can run. Our offense should never be our problem. Offense should be our strong point. "Defensively up the middle I think we're as good as anybody. You want to be strong up the middle to win championships and we're definitely that. I think we're going to be rock solid."
For the first time this season, Penn College is a member of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association, which will hold a national championship tournament May 12-16 in Hampton, Va.
"We're all excited about it. Everybody is ready to go. We've got a goal and that is to defend the (PSUAC) championship and to move on to the national championship," Howard continued.
"It is an extra incentive for the guys and they are thinking about it. It's a great conference we got into and we have a chance for some national exposure. The guys are excited about it and it is the type of thing that keeps a team focused and motivated," added the coach, who is assisted by Tom Persing.