Baseball Team Ends Second in NEAC; Archers Headed to Nationals
After a rainout last weekend, the Wildcats split their doubleheader on Tuesday against Keuka College and, in doing so, wrapped up the second seed heading into the weekend conference tournament. In the first-game 5-1 win, Cody Cline, of Waynesboro, went 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored and two runs batted in while pitcher Brad Walter, of Williamsport, improved to 4-2. In the second-game 8-7 loss, Penn College led 6-4 before falling. Cole Hofmann, of Newtown, delivered a two-run triple in the second inning.
Entering the double-elimination NEAC tournament, which was moved to Bucknell University in Lewisburg because of weather concerns, top-seeded Penn State Abington was 11-3 in the NEAC and 15-21 overall; Penn College 11-4, 23-11; Penn State Berks 10-6, 17-19; and Keuka College 9-6, 17-16.
On Friday, Penn College fell to third-seeded Penn State Berks, 13-1, then rebounded with a 10-6 win over fourth-seeded Keuka College. In the loss, the Wildcats managed just four hits, two by Cline, and were plagued by eight errors. Pitcher Max Bair, of Centre Hall, went six innings and took the loss, allowing just one earned run and striking out five. In the victory, Cline and four other Penn College players each had two hits, including Evan Vigna, of McAdoo, who homered and scored twice. Walter pitched seven innings, allowing six hits, to pick up the win.
On Saturday after Penn State Berks handed Penn State Abington its first loss of the tournament, Penn College had a four-run second inning and five-run fifth to eliminate Abington with a 10-9 win in 10 innings. Noah Esposito, of Williamsport, had three hits, drove in two runs and scored twice, while Flicker had two hits and drove in two runs to pace the Wildcats’ offense. Andrew Gilbert, of Yardley, picked up the win with 4 1/3 innings of relief pitching, improving to 3-1, and Devon Sanders, of Bloomsburg, earned his second save, setting the stage for a rematch with Penn State Berks. With its 25th victory, Penn College achieved its most wins ever in a season.
On Sunday morning, the game was tied 4-4 after five innings before Berks added three runs in the eighth inning for a 7-4 win to end the Wildcats’ season at 25-13 overall and 13-6 in the conference. Flicker finished 3-for-4 at the plate with a run scored and one RBI and Vigna plated two runs.
“The first game (Friday) was disappointing because it was really uncharacteristic of us. It was probably the worst game we played all year. … But they bounced back against Keuka, played a really good game and got the momentum back to where we needed it, and then played a good, solid game against Abington to get us into the championship series,” coach Chris Howard said.
Commenting on Sunday’s season-ending loss, Howard said, “It was a good game today. There was some timely hitting, there was good pitching, it was a good defensive game on both sides. They (Berks) just made a couple of more plays than we did. … It was a good tournament and we did a really nice job. … (We) fought back like we have done all year. I was really happy, other than not winning the whole thing, with how we played.”
Reflecting on the season, following the disappointment of a 13-23 campaign a year ago, Howard noted, “What a big turnaround. It really set the tone for the next few years, especially next year going into the season as a full member of the NCAA (Division III), there’s a little more at stake than just winning a conference championship. We have an opportunity to move onto the NCAA tournament.
“It was really a good year all the way around. This team was one of the best I think I ever had, including the 2015 (NEAC championship) team. There was something about these guys. … It was probably my most fun year as a coach. … Last year was pretty deflating. This year, I think it’s just the exact opposite, I think the guys are excited about what’s on the horizon.”
After 11 seasons at the helm, Howard’s teams have won 250 games and lost 151.
Also during the week, three Penn College players earned North Eastern Athletic Conference All-Conference selections as Flicker was named the Rookie of the Year while he and Bair were named to the all-conference First Team and Brittan Kittle, of Millville, earned a Second Team nod.
Flicker became the first player in program history, and second in school history, to earn top rookie honors. He posted a .376 batting average entering the playoffs with 11 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 25 RBIs, 30 runs scored and eight stolen bases. He ranked fifth in doubles, eighth in batting average and 10th in RBIs. Flicker also had the seventh-best slugging percentage (.556) in the conference. The Penn College rookie began the season with a 15-game hitting streak and finished the season with at least one hit in 27 of his 32 games, which included 14 multi-hit games. In the field, he recorded 21 putouts and 40 assists for a .924 fielding percentage. Flicker is the only first-year player to earn a spot on the All-Conference First Team.
Bair was fourth in the conference through the regular season with a 3.66 ERA and second in the NEAC with five conference wins on a 5-1 season. He worked 51 2/3 innings with 43 strikeouts and highlighted his season with a complete-game one-hitter against Gallaudet University.
Kittle was eighth in the conference during the regular season with a .404 batting average, which included a conference-best nine doubles. He brought in 15 runs on 19 hits and had a league-best .563 on-base percentage.
A year ago, with a mostly inexperienced squad, the Penn College archery team ended eighth in the nation, its highest finish in nearly a decade. But things should be different this year.
“The outlook on our overall performance is going to be pretty high. We’re going to field all of the teams, with the exception of female recurve, so this year, I predict we’re going to be quite a few places higher,” coach Chad Karstetter said. “With every year, you get a little more experience on the national level and they are performing very well this year, so far, so I think we’re going to do very well.”
This year’s nationals May 19-21 are being hosted by UC San Diego at the Easton Archery Center of Excellence in Chula Vista, California, where more than 400 archers representing 40 to 50 colleges and universities will compete.
Commenting on his team’s season thus far, Karstetter said, “We had a really good showing in Eastern Regionals that we hosted (April 22-23). The weather hasn’t cooperated very well since then, but we have been outside a few times and worked on a few little details that we needed to work on in the team rounds.
“Everybody now is on summer break and I’m not going to see them until the day before we leave. We’re going to have an unofficial practice before we get on the plane and see where everybody is and go from there.”
Official practice and opening ceremonies will be held Thursday. On Friday will be a 72-arrow qualifying round with mixed team rounds following. Another 72-arrow qualifying round will be held on Saturday prior to the official team rounds later that day. Competition wraps up on Sunday with the Olympic individual knockout round.
Competing for Penn College will be:
Male bowhunter — Senior Andrew Rupp, of Dayton; sophomore Adam Thomas, of Shade Gap; freshman John Kleinfelter, of Lebanon; and junior Justin Rinehimer, of Mountain Top.
Male compound — Senior Markus Weber, of La Plata, Maryland; sophomore Tim Lamont, of Eldred; junior Tyler Schoonover, of Bradford; sophomore Logan Booth, of New Kensington; and freshman Aaron Cummings, of Mountville.
Male recurve — Junior Nicholas Daniels, of Levittown; sophomore Tanner Huff, of Altoona; and freshman Josh Maring, of Brookville.
Female bowhunter — Sophomores Erica Gause, of Bloomsburg; Stephanie Plummer, of Port Matilda; and Sarah Decker, of Williamsport.
Female compound — Junior Chelsea Douglass, of East Greenville; sophomore Sabrina Toplovich, of Spring Creek; and freshman Rylee Butler, of Bellefonte.
Female recurve — sophomore Kaylee Burk, of Hermitage.
Weber won the male compound national championship a year ago, and Rupp and Gause teamed for first place in the mixed bowhunter event. Also last season, Weber, Gause, Rupp, Lamont and Schoonover earned All-American status as a result of their combined indoor and outdoor national scores, and the coach, who is assisted by Dustin Bartron, anticipates more top accolades this year.
“There is a potential to have another five to seven All-Americans if it all works out and they shoot well,” Karstetter said.
“(We) compete on the East Coast against the same (archers), it seems, week-in and week-out. When you get out to the nationals, when they put everybody into one big mix with the best-of-the-best from each school, it’s hard to say who is going to really shoot well at an outdoor event, but going into that event, with the indoor scores that we have, we have the potentials for (several) All-Americans,” continued the coach, in his 15th season.
“Markus (Weber) excels in that type of tournament where you shoot head-to-head against each archer. He has done that the last few years for us and, although he might not have won, he’s always right up there in the top. Andrew (Rupp), too. They always excel in head-to-head competition. They really feed on that pressure,” Karstetter said.
“It takes a very strong mental game when you get to this level, especially in the team and individual rounds. It is single elimination and you have to have your head in the game the whole time. We have done very well this year with our team rounds and individuals, so I think these guys are ready. I think they have their mental game ready and I’m looking forward to going to California,” the coach added.
Final overall record: 25-13
Final NEAC record: 13-6 (11-4 regular season)
Tuesday, May 9 – vs. Keuka College (NEAC), W, 5-1; L, 8-7
Friday, May 12 – NEAC Championships vs. Penn State Berks, L, 13-1
Friday, May 12 – NEAC Championships vs. Keuka College, W, 10-6
Saturday, May 13 – NEAC Championships vs. Penn State Abington, W, 10-9, 10 innings
Sunday, May 14 – NEAC Championship vs. Penn State Berks, L, 7-4
Friday, Saturday, Sunday, May 19-20-21 – Outdoor Nationals at Chula Vista, Calif.
For more, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.