Penn College 10th in National Softball Tourney
“Any postseason experience is a positive, especially for our team. Being as young as we are, we're hoping that with our returners coming back and having that year of experience collegiately and postseason-wise under their belts, and (with) our incoming freshman class, that we will be able to compete over the next three or four years in the postseason,” Klahold said.
In the first game of the USCAA tournament May 16, 10th-seeded Penn State Brandywine took a 5-0 lead after three innings and held on for a 5-3 win. The Wildcats, seeded seventh, were limited to two hits – doubles by Taylor Krow, of Mechanicsburg, and Taylor Brooks, of Cogan Station – and Brooks drove in two runs. Both teams stranded 11 base runners.
In Monday’s nightcap, NHTI, seeded third, pounded out 10 hits and took advantage of two Penn College errors to build its lead and bring the game to an early end, 8-0 after five innings. Kelsey Gantz, of South Williamsport, had two of four hits for Penn College, which left seven runners on base.
On Tuesday in a fight for ninth place, fourth-seeded University of Maine-Presque Isle scored in the bottom of the ninth inning to win, 4-3, and close out the Wildcats’ season at 17-21. Penn College led 3-1 after the top of the eighth inning before UMPI knotted the score in the bottom half of the frame. Eight Penn College players had hits, including a double by Elizabeth Asher, of East Stroudsburg. The Wildcats left eight on base.
“The tournament didn't turn out the way we wanted it. We came out a little slack against Brandywine in the opening game and then started getting back into it, which made it close. But we had trouble pushing our runners in scoring position across the plate all tournament long. That definitely was kind of the crux of everything; we didn't have trouble getting runners on base, we just couldn't get them across,” Klahold said, adding, “In all three games, Amanda (Kustanbauter) pitched very well, we just couldn't get runs for her.”
For the season, freshmen dominated the offensive statistics for the Wildcats as right fielder Krow hit a team-high .397, had three triples, nine doubles and led the team with 31 runs scored. Designated hitter/pitcher Brooks was second with a .394 batting average, led the team with three home runs and also hit three triples. Shortstop Gantz hit .363 and drove in 25 runs; catcher Maddie Wenk, of Biglerville, hit .347; and third baseman Elizabeth Asher, of East Stroudsburg, hit .313 and led the team with 26 RBIs.
As a team, the Wildcats have hit .304 and their opponents .265.
On the mound, Brooks was 5-6 and had a team-low 4.81 earned run average. Opponents hit just .182 against her, but while she struck out 100 batters, she also walked 121; both team highs. Kustanbauter, a sophomore from Muncy, was 8-8 with a 5.05 ERA. She also hit .302.
Teamwise, the Penn College pitching staff had a 5.00 ERA and its opponents a 4.16 ERA.
Also, it was announced that Gantz had been named a Second Team USCAA All-America and Brooks an Honorable Mention while freshman Lauren Stehman, of Elliottsburg, was named to the conference’s all-academic team. National All-Academic team honors are awarded to students of sophomore standing or higher with at least a 3.5 GPA.
“As a coaching staff, we knew we had some talented freshmen and we had some talented transfers come in. We saw it in Myrtle (Beach), but we didn’t know how they were going to come together after that,” Klahold said, adding, “They went out and they exceeded our expectations.
“We heard a lot of positive feedback from some conference coaches who really were impressed with how our team handled playing in tight games. … They (Wildcat players) really came back and responded every game,” she continued.
Looking ahead, Klahold said she expects to bring in six to eight new players next season to “keep reloading and focus on fundamentals.
“I don’t know if some girls believed that it really is taxing (on their bodies). When you go for three and a half to four months, it is a long season and there is a lot of wear and tear on your body,” the coach said.
“They know they need to prepare with more of a sense of urgency for next year … It is a different game out there (between high school and college ball), so they need to prepare themselves in a different way; they need to do it early in the offseason,” Klahold added.
In the national tournament, top-seeded St. Mary of the Woods captured the championship on Thursday with a 6-0 win over second-seeded Carlow University.
Final overall record: 17-21
Final NEAC record: 10-8
Monday, May 16 – USCAA National Championships at Akron, Ohio, vs. Penn State Brandywine, L, 5-3
Monday, May 16 – USCAA National Championships at Akron, Ohio, vs. NHTI, L, 8-0 (5 innings)
Tuesday, May 17 – USCAA National Championships at Akron, Ohio, vs. University of Maine-Presque Isle, L, 4-3 (9 innings)
Friday-Sunday, May 20-22 — U.S. National Outdoor Collegiate Championships at Michigan State University.