Penn College softball team seeks continued growth
Hunley’s reference was to a team that – despite COVID-19 restrictions – finished 19-5 overall, captured the North Eastern Athletic Conference (since rebranded United East) championship and reached the NCAA Division III Regional tournament, finishing among the top 48 of 414 D-III teams in the country.
When her third edition of the Wildcats take the field on Monday in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, they will do so with four all-conference first-team honorees – senior pitcher Kyla Benner, of Bethlehem; senior second baseman Olivia Hemstock, of Northford, Connecticut; junior first baseman Jordan Specht, of Frederick, Maryland; and sophomore third baseman Margaret Mangene, of Boalsburg – and second-team honoree junior catcher Ivvy Morder, of Mechanicsburg. Hemstock and Specht also were named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Region third team a year ago.
Although starting positions remained up in the air at midweek, Hunley said, “I love to write my starting lineup around my offense. We have a very strong batting order 1-9 and I expect to score a lot of runs again this season. (We have) a very good mix of speed and power throughout.”
Hunley describes her team’s defense with one word, “SOLID. We are returning a lot of experience to the defense and I will feel very confident no matter what direction the ball is hit.”
On the mound, Benner will be joined by freshmen MacKenzie Weaver, of Montoursville, and Haley DeBrody, of Williamsport, along with junior Taylor Cashner, of Danville, in relief.
“(We have a) veteran team. I am returning my entire starting lineup from last season except for my center fielder. With their experience and the key freshmen additions, I am looking for this team to remain competitive in the United East Conference and to continue to create opportunities to compete in the postseason,” Hunley said.
“We definitely bring all three aspects of the game – pitching, defense and offense. We have a very well-rounded program and do a great job of using our strengths to stay competitive on game day. The amount of athleticism on this team is amazing and makes my job as their coach very fun,” Hunley said.
One of the team’s goals this season, according to the coach, is seeking “continued growth in the postseason and at the next level. We got to experience what it takes to compete last season and will look to improve upon that this year.”
The key to success, Hunley said, will be “sticking to the game plan and staying within ourselves. As long as this team stays focused on the task at hand and puts all their energy into the growth of the program, they will find success.
“We look to remain competitive in the UE and would love another opportunity at the NCAA tournament. We will have to take it one day at a time and remain focused on what is best for the team. We will have to stay in the moment and not focus on what happened in the past or what may be possible in the future and things will work out.
“I am very excited to see this team compete. They are focused on coming back better and stronger and continue to show me that during this preseason.”
In two seasons under Hunley, Penn College is 24-9, and this will be the first full season for many Wildcat players as a result of the pandemic-shortened season two years ago and last year’s conference-only play.
“Playing a full 40-game schedule will be an adjustment for everyone on the team but the seniors,” the coach said. “Nobody else has experienced a full schedule yet in their college career. The good news is my current team is in the best shape of their careers and stronger than they have been in the past. I am confident they will be able to handle a full schedule flawlessly.”
Despite fielding a young and inexperienced team, Penn College archers got off to a good start in their first competitive meet in nearly two years at the USA Indoor Nationals last weekend at James Madison University as it had five top 10 finishes in a field of 500.
Leading the way was Dyson Renn, of Hellam, who took first place in men’s bowhunter. Recording fifth-place finishes were Noah Burke, of Tionesta, in men’s compound and Grant Walters, of Dover, in men’s barebow. Also for the Wildcats, Atley Cooper, of Honey Brook, was seventh in men’s bowhunter and Jonathon Vough, of Athens, was ninth in men’s compound.
“I am very pleased with the guys’ performances. Penn College is definitely the stronger team in the Eastern Region as we come out of indoor competition and we are headed into outdoor competition,” coach Dustin Bartron said. “We now know our strengths and found a few weaknesses to work on. I am looking forward to seeing our successes at outdoor regionals.”
In nonconference action on Saturday at Immaculata University, Penn College scored an 8-5 win to improve to 2-3. After a 3-3 first half, the second half belonged to Penn College as it scored three times in the third period and twice in the fourth while limiting Immaculate to one goal in each of the last two quarters. Sam Hills, of Maynard, Massachusetts, broke the halftime tie with his second goal with 12:02 left in the third and the Wildcats never trailed again. Hills closed out the day with three goals and an assist for Penn College, while James Cella, of Cape May, New Jersey, made six saves in goal to earn the win for the Wildcats. Penn College led in shots, 39-25, and in shots on goal, 30-11.
Penn College teams in CS:GO and League of Legends both posted wins over the past week, while the college finished ninth in a field of 36 in iRacing and its teams in Overwatch, Rocket League and Valorant each suffered losses.
Spring Break at North Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Sunday, March 6 – vs. Hilbert College (2), 3 p.m.
Monday, March 7 – vs. Bridgewater State University, 9 a.m.
Monday, March 7 – vs. Manhattanville College, 12:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 8 – vs. Clarks Summit University, 10 a.m.
Wednesday, March 9 – vs. Rivier University (2), 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 10 – vs. Catholic University, 10 a.m.
Wednesday, March 16 – at Wilson College (2), 1 p.m.
Spring Break at North Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Monday, March 7 – vs. Clarks Summit University, 9:30 a.m.
Monday, March 7 – vs. North Carolina Wesleyan College, 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 8 – vs. King’s College (2), 1:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 9 – vs. Montclair State University, 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 9 – vs. Penn State Beaver, 5:30 p.m.
Friday, March 11 – vs. Lebanon Valley College, 9:30 a.m.
Friday, March 11 – vs. Cairn University, 11:30 a.m.
Wednesday, March 16 – at Susquehanna University, 3 p.m.
Saturday, March 5 – at Immaculata University, W, 8-5
Wednesday, March 9 – at Alfred University, 5 p.m.
Saturday, March 12 – at Bryn Athyn College, 1 p.m.
Wednesday, March 16 – host Alvernia University, 4 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 26-27 – USA Indoor Nationals at Harrisonburg, Va., 5 top 10 finishes
Saturday-Sunday, April 23-24 – USA Eastern Regional Collegiate Championships at Harrisonburg, Va.
Tuesday, March 1 – CIL NASCAR Auto Club Speedway, 9 of 36
Tuesday, March 8 – CIL ROAD - Autodromo International Ferrari, 8 p.m.
Tuesday, March 15 – CIL NASCAR – Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 8 p.m.
Tuesday, March 22 – CIL ROAD – Circuit De Spa-Francorchamps, 8 p.m.
Tuesday, March 29 – CIL NASCAR – Charlotte Motor Speedway, 8 p.m.
Tuesday, April 5 – CIL ROAD – Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, 8 p.m.
Tuesday, April 12 – CIL NASCAR – Phoenix Raceway, 8 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 28 – vs. Messiah University, L, 3-0
Monday, March 7 – vs. New York University, 8 p.m.
Monday, March 14 – vs. Lebanon Valley College, 8 p.m.
Monday, March 21 – vs. Lackawanna College, 8 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 28 – vs. New Jersey Institute of Technology, L, 3-0
Monday, March 7 – vs. Culver University, 7 p.m.
Monday, March 14 – vs. Camden County College, 7 p.m.
Monday, March 21 – vs. Drexel University, 7 p.m.
League of Legends
Defeated Camden County College, 2-1
Defeated Glenville State College, 2-1
Friday, March 4 – vs. Windsor University, L, 2-0
Monday, March 21 – at Lebanon Valley College, noon
Saturday, March 26 – host King’s College, 1:30 p.m.
For more about the United East, visit the conference website.
For additional information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.