Penn College baseball, softball playoff schedules altered

Published 05.05.2022

Wildcat Weekly

Among the elite. That’s where Pennsylvania College of Technology baseball and softball teams find themselves going into this weekend’s United East Conference playoffs.

Coach Angela Stackhouse’s top-seeded and defending conference-champion softball team (25-3 in the UE and 27-8 overall) is making its sixth consecutive postseason appearance, while coach Chris Howard’s fourth-seeded baseball team (13-8, 20-16) is in its fifth straight postseason trip after falling in the semifinals a year ago. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no playoffs in 2020.

Because of rain in the weather forecast, the schedules for both tournaments have been changed. The double-elimination tournament for baseball that was scheduled for Friday through Sunday has been rescheduled for Monday through Wednesday, while softball play that had been scheduled for Friday and Saturday with a double-elimination format now has been changed to a single-elimination event with all games on Sunday.

Live video and stats will be available at the Wildcat Athletics webpage.

Winners from each of the tournaments will advance to the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Penn College will open against the regular-season champ, tournament host and No. 1 seed Penn State Harrisburg (19-2, 26-14) at noon on Monday, while second-seeded Penn State Abington (17-4, 30-9) faces third-seeded Lancaster Bible College (13-8, 18-19) at 3 p.m. on Monday.

“I’m happy with not only how we have played this year but how we have improved each week. It’s never about how you start the year but how you finish, and I believe we are playing some of our best baseball both offensively, defensively and on the mound right now,” Howard said.

“When it comes to the postseason, it’s the team with the hottest pitching and the team who makes the least amount of mistakes that usually comes out on top,” Howard continued. “I’m happy how we are pitching, playing defense and hitting the ball so far. This has been one of our most complete teams that I have had in my 16 years as the head coach.

“All three teams that we will face in the tournament have had great years. Harrisburg is as usual a solid all-around team with some great pitching and guys who can swing the bat really well. Abington has been a monster offensively all year with a player (Ryan McCarty) who is literally rewriting NCAA D-III record books with what he is doing at the plate, and a supporting cast that is having a great year as well. Lancaster Bible is a team that just keeps coming at you with a lineup of really solid, good baseball players that play hard every inning of the game.”

In regular-season games this season, Penn College was 2-1 against Harrisburg (W, 2-1; L, 5-2; W, 15-2); it was 0-3 against Abington (L, 14-0; L, 14-3; L, 10-7); and it was 1-2 against Lancaster Bible College (W, 15-5; L, 7-3; L, 18-17). Since 2015, the Wildcats are 2-7 against Harrisburg, 7-15 against Abington and 13-6 against Lancaster Bible since 2014.

Of those who have played in as least 30 games, Jacob Carles, of Bernville, leads the Wildcats’ offense with a .397 batting average and is followed by Jake Wagner, of Palmyra, at .362 and Cameron Dick, of Dillsburg, at .352. Carles and Wagner each have scored 46 runs. Dick leads the team with 18 doubles and 42 RBIs, while Shane Price, of Kersey, is the home run leader with six.

Of the pitchers with at least five decisions, Samuel Zeigler, of Palmyra, is 5-1 with a 2.77 earned run average; Chance Webb, of Hughesville, is 4-2 with a 3.69 ERA; Zac Weaver, of Pottstown, is 2-3 with a 3.63 ERA; and Ben Bretzman, of Bendersville, is 3-4 with a 4.53 ERA. Bretzman leads with 55 strikeouts, Zeigler has 47 and Webb 43.

In conference play, Penn College has outscored its opponents, 188-113. The Wildcats have a pitching staff ERA of 4.72 to their opponents’ 6.90. Defensively, Penn College has committed 34 errors and its opponents 57.

“It’s going to be great to get this tournament going. We have been looking forward to this from the time we met in August. It’s what we have been working so hard for all year, and we are excited to get out there and get after it. There’s nothing like postseason baseball and we have been very fortunate to be involved in six of the last eight postseasons. We are ready!” Howard said.

As the conference’s regular-season champ, the top-seeded Wildcats will host the tournament at Williamsport’s Elm Park as they open against fourth-seeded Penn State Abington (19-9, 24-14) at 10 a.m. Sunday. Following at noon on Sunday, second-seeded Penn State Harrisburg (22-6, 26-12) will square off against third-seeded Penn State Berks (21-7, 24-11). Semifinal winners will square off for the championship at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Should there be an issue with the fields at Elm Park, play will move to Lycoming College’s softball field.

“We had a great conference season. The body of work this team has put in has been consistently top-notch,” coach Angela Stackhouse said of her squad that already has set program records for wins in a season and consecutive wins (15). “We are fortunate to have two of the best pitchers in the conference, lots of run support and a strong defense behind them,” she added.

“Going into playoffs, we just need to remain composed and keep playing at our best level. As long as this team goes out and plays at their level they will have a successful postseason,” the coach continued.

The Wildcats were 3-1 in regular-season games against each of the other three teams in the tournament: Abington (W, 1-0; W, 1-0; L, 6-3; W, 13-3), Penn State Harrisburg (W, 10-0 in five innings; W, 2-1 in nine innings; L, 4-3; W, 2-1), and Penn State Berks (L, 1-0; W, 10-2 in five innings; W, 6-2; W, 3-1). Since 2017, Penn College is 10-2 against Abington, 8-3 against Harrisburg since 2015 and 5-12 against Berks since 2016.

“All four teams in the tournament are very tough. It is anyone’s game at any moment. I am looking forward to some good softball this weekend,” Stackhouse said.

Playing in at least 27 games, Olivia Hemstock, of Northford, Connecticut, leads the team with a .462 batting average, while Jordan Specht, of Frederick, Maryland, is hitting at a .436 clip and Maddie Hurst, of Mechanicsburg, at .415. Hemstock has driven in 37 runs and Specht 34. Hurst leads with 46 runs scored. Specht leads with 14 doubles.

Mackenzie Weaver, of Montoursville, and Kyla Benner, of Bethlehem, have dominated on the mound as Weaver is 14-2 with a 1.55 ERA and Benner is 13-5 with a 1.88 ERA. Benner has 127 strikeouts and Weaver has 122.

In conference play, the Wildcats have outscored their opponents, 188-33. They have a pitching staff ERA of 1.49 to their opponents’ 10.47. Defensively, Penn College has committed 16 errors to its opponents’ 42.

“I am happy we have experience playing for a conference championship and beyond. Being able to lean on that experience will help as we take the field against some tough competition. This tournament will go the team that stays composed and brings their best game every inning,” Stackhouse added.

Overall: 20-16
UE: 13-8
Monday, May 9 — Penn College (13-8, 20-16) vs. Penn State Harrisburg (19-2, 26-14), noon; Penn State Abington (17-4, 30-9) vs. Lancaster Bible College (13-8, 18-19), 3 p.m.
Tuesday, May 10 — Game 3: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser, 9 a.m.; Game 4: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, noon; Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser, 3 p.m.
Wednesday, May 11 — Game 6: Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner, 10 a.m.; Game 7 (If necessary) following the conclusion of Game 6

Overall: 27-8
UE: 25-3
United East Tournament at Williamsport’s Elm Park
Sunday, May 8 — Penn College (25-3, 27-8) vs. Penn State Abington (19-9, 24-14), 10 a.m.; Penn State Harrisburg (22-6, 26-12) vs. Penn State Berks (21-7, 24-11), noon. Championship Game, 2 p.m. (NOTE: Should there be an issue with the fields at Elm Park, play will move to Lycoming College’s softball field.)

For more about the United East, visit the conference website.

For additional information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.