Penn College softball, lacrosse seasons end; baseball playoffs starting

Published 05.08.2022

Wildcat Weekly

A record-setting campaign for the Pennsylvania College of Technology women’s softball team that saw a program-high 28 wins and included a 15-game winning streak came to an abrupt end Sunday in the United East Conference Championship game.

Meanwhile, for the college’s baseball team, UE playoffs are scheduled to get underway Monday at Penn State Harrisburg after rain washed out weekend action.

In a tournament that was switched from double- to single-elimination because of rain Friday and Saturday, Sunday’s first game at Elm Park saw the Wildcats eliminate Penn State Abington, 9-1 in six innings. Pitcher Kyla Benner, of Bethlehem, tossed a four-hitter, striking out 11 and walking none in improving to 14-5.

Keying the offense were Jordan Specht, of Frederick, Maryland, who was 3 for 4 at the plate with two runs batted in and one run scored; Olivia Hemstock, of Northford, Connecticut, who was 3 for 3 with three runs scored and one RBI; and Mackenzie Weaver, of Montoursville, who was 2 for 4 with two RBIs. Also, Benner and Maddie Hurst, of Mechanicsburg, each drove in one run with doubles.

In the afternoon title tilt, Berks used five singles and a wild pitch to score three runs in the fourth inning and went on for a 5-3 win that closed out Penn College’s season at 28-9 overall and 26-4 in the conference. On the mound for the Wildcats, Weaver went 3⅓ innings and took the loss to cap a 14-3 freshman season as the team’s hopes of repeating as conference champion and advancing to the NCAA Division III playoffs for the second year in a row ended.

Offensively for Penn College, Specht went 3 for 3 with one RBI while Weaver and Margaret Mangene, of Boalsburg, each had two hits off Berks pitching ace Briana Smith, who owns a 1.28 season ERA and picked up both of her team’s wins in five games against the Wildcats while improving to 16-3 this season.

Last week, five Wildcats were named to the all-conference team including Benner, a senior who was honored as the Pitcher of the Year and garnered her second first-team selection. Also named to the first team were senior second baseman Hemstock and Weaver, while junior catcher Ivvy Morder, of Mechanicsburg, and junior shortstop Hurst, of Mechanicsburg, were named to the second team.

During the regular season, Benner fired two perfect games. She started in 18 games and finished with a 13-5 record overall, working 95innings, allowing 67 hits and 30 runs (20 earned) while posting a 1.88 ERA. Benner struck out 127 batters and walked 18. She topped the league in opposing batting average at .191 and her 127 strikeouts were second-best.

Hemstock earned her second consecutive first-team all-conference nod after posting a team-best .462 batting average. She finished with 42 hits, with six doubles, one triple, 37 RBI and 37 runs scored. She was top 10 in the conference in batting average, on-base percentage (.495), runs scored and runs batted in.

Weaver finished the regular season with a 13-5 record and a 1.55 ERA. She tossed her first career no-hitter, struck out 117 batters, walked 25 and surrendered 17 earned runs. She led the conference in ERA and was top three in wins and strikeouts.

Morder earned her second consecutive second-team honor. She finished the season with a .256 batting average on 21 hits and 15 RBI. Behind the plate, Morder caught two perfect games and fielded .991 on 226 putouts.

Hurst slashed .415/.557/.526, with 44 hits, 46 runs scored, 24 RBI and 12 extra-base hits. She was in the top five in the United East in on base percentage and runs scored and had a .924 fielding percentage at short on 36 putouts and 61 assists.

Penn College (13-8 UE, 20-16 overall) will open against the regular-season champ, tournament host and No. 1 seed Penn State Harrisburg (19-2, 26-14) at noon, 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.

Last Wednesday, it was announced that four Penn College players were named to the United East all-conference baseball team. Junior outfielder Jacob Carles (Bernville) was named to the first team, while junior third baseman Cameron Dick (Dillsburg), senior pitcher Samuel Zeigler (Palmyra) and junior designated hitter Shane Price (Kersey) were named to the second team.

Carles earned his third all-conference honor after back-to-back seasons as a second-team honoree. Carles batted a team-high .397, on 52 hits, with nine doubles, two triples, three home runs and batted in 27 runs. Carles ranked in the top seven in the United East is batting average, hits and on-base percentage (.500).

Zeigler finished the season at 5-1 from the mound, with a 2.77 ERA, 47 strikeouts and 21 walks. He topped the conference in the least runs and hits allowed, and was in the top three in ERA and opposing batting average (.196).

Dick batted .352 on 50 hits, with 18 doubles, two triples, five home runs, and 42 RBI. He finished in the top 10 in the conference in hits and slugging percentage (.613).

Price hit .313 with 40 hits, eight doubles, six homers and 36 RBI. He was eighth in the United East in RBI and 10th in home runs.

Men’s lacrosse
On Wednesday in a UE semifinal match at St. Mary’s (Md.) College, Penn College’s season ended with an 18-5 loss as it finished 9-8 overall and 4-3 in all conference matches. Freshman Gage McClune, of Ephrata, led the Wildcats with two goals, while James Thatcher, of Bala Cynwyd, had two assists. St. Mary’s led in shots, 64-18, and in shots on goal, 41-9.

Penn College landed five players on the United East all-conference lacrosse team, it was announced Thursday, as freshman defender Mason Nester, of Schwenksville, was named to the first team, while sophomore attack Thatcher; sophomore attack Quinn Caviola, of Ridgefield, Connecticut; freshman midfielder Trevor Soli, of Redding, Connecticut, and freshman short stick midfielder Cole Spezialetti, of Millersville, were all named to the second team.

Nester played in 16 games, making 14 starts in his first year for the Wildcats. He was generally responsible for shutting down the opponent’s best-attacking player and collected 19 groundballs while forcing 13 turnovers.

Thatcher led the Wildcats with a team-high 72 points on 31 goals and 41 assists. He finished third in the conference in assists per game (2.56) and points per game (4.50).

Caviola picked up his second all-conference award after earning first-team attack in 2021. He scored 45 points, on 27 goals and 18 assists, and finished with 95 shots and 33 groundballs. Caviola ranked 10th in the UE with 1.13 assists per game.

Soli finished his freshman campaign with 26 points, on 16 goals and 10 assists. He attempted 55 shots and had a .564 shot-on-goal percentage.

Spezialetti scored five goals on 15 shots. He also contributed a pair of assists for seven points. Spezialetti collected 29 groundballs.

“We are extremely happy with the accolades our five guys received and the guys who didn’t get anything will use this as motivation for next year. We return each of these guys for next year and I know they will not taking anything for granted. We look forward to getting more guys on this list next year,” coach Jordan Williams said.

Commenting on the team’s second season, and his second year as a head coach, Williams said, “The 2021-22 season was a great one in a lot of ways. We had another winning record, we made it to the United East Conference playoffs, and we continued to lay bricks in our foundation.

“We had many ‘firsts’ this year, whether as individuals or as a program. Guys had their first college point, ground ball or save. We won our first out-of-conference game, we played a full 17-game season against a ton of new teams, (for the) first time we had guys earn USILA National Team of the Week, first bus karaoke after a big road win. Things like that matter as we are building our team and our culture.

“We talk a lot about not taking special for granted and I think our team has done a great job of that this season. Were there times when that wasn’t the case? Absolutely – but that is what we are learning to work through as young men and as a team. While we didn’t reach our goal of making the conference championship game, I am extremely proud of how far we came from game 1 to game 17. We looked like a completely different team in a good way.

“Anytime you finish over .500, that is a great thing and a lot to build off of. One common theme from opposing coaches I heard after games was ‘wow your team plays tough’ or some variation of that. We don’t care what the score is, whether we are up 15 or down 15, we are going to play our brand of lacrosse and that is a testament to the young men in our program – they take pride in that – putting in the hard work.

“On Wednesday when we were down pretty big, if you didn’t see the score, you would have thought it was a one-goal game with the intensity, energy and effort our guys were showing. That is exciting as we move into year three of our program and welcome our second recruiting class.

“We will be saying goodbye to seniors Nate Hugo, of Ligonier; Ben Guaragno, Spring Grove; Dylan Klemas, of Narvon; and James Conway, of Derwood, Maryland. These guys are all huge losses on the field, but more importantly off the field. They are exceptional young men who took a leap of faith last year to help build our program. They have gone through a ton of adversity to get us to where we are today and we will miss them greatly, especially in the fall as we are looking to find our identity as a team.

“With that said, we return everyone else and will be welcoming 22 new freshmen. We are looking for guys to come in ready to compete right away. Our roster will be fairly large to start and that is its own challenge to manage, but we have the right group of returners who are bought into what we are doing. This incoming class has the capability to push us to that next level and push our current team to improve and at the end of the day that is what we are looking for.

“We tell every guy on the team our goal is to bring in better players each year and we are hoping that motivates them to work even harder to build our program on and off the field.

“We believe we are going to continue to grow and become more competitive each year. We are playing a lot of the same teams next year as well as picking up some extremely competitive programs on the schedule such as Kean and Stockton. We want to play the best teams that will play us week in and week out so we can see what high-quality lacrosse is. With this group, I know they welcome that challenge and will fight for 60 (minutes). We have the pieces here and coming in this fall to make some noise in year three.”

The CATS winners
Six student-athletes were honored May 1 at the fifth CATS (Celebrating Athletic Triumphs and Successes) banquet. They are:

Benner (softball) and Dick (baseball) were named Athletes of the Year.

Benner finished the regular season with a 13-5 record, a 1.88 ERA and 127 strikeouts – all in the top three in the UE. She also tossed two perfect games and contributed at the plate with a .414 batting average on 25 hits, with seven doubles and 14 RBI.

Dick batted .352, with 50 hits – including 18 doubles, two triples, five home runs and batted in 42 runs. He finished in the top three on the team in all major batting categories and was in the top 10 of the United East in hits, RBI and doubles.

Gavin Barrett, of Roselle, New Jersey (men’s basketball) and Weaver (softball) earned Newcomer of the Year honors.

Barrett started 18 of 23 games at point guard and led the team in points, assists, steals and minutes. He was third in the UE in assists, eighth in steals and was one of seven players in NCAA Division III to record multiple triple-doubles this season – a modern (since 2014-15) school record.

Weaver finished the regular season with a 14-2 record and a 1.55 ERA. She was third in the conference in strikeouts and wins, and second in ERA. She struck out a career-high 14 batters against Penn State Abington and tossed her first career no-hitter this season.

Tanner Layne, of Chesapeake, Virginia (soccer) and Cassi Kuhns, of Loyalsock Township (women’s basketball) were Scholar-Athletes of the Year.

Layne has had 4.0 grade point average four times and has been named to the Dean's List six times. He earned conference scholar-athlete honor in every season and is member of Chi Alpha Sigma. Layne is vice president of administration for Phi Mu Delta, a Student Athletic Advisory Council representative and social media chairman, and had volunteered at multiple community service events.

Kuhns has had four semesters with a 4.0 GPA and has been named to the Dean's List seven times. Kuhns will be a four-time conference scholar-athlete honoree and is a member of Chi Alpha Sigma. She spends her time out of the classroom working at Community Services Group as a behavioral health adviser and has volunteered at multiple community service events.

Overall: 20-16
UE: 13-8
(United East Tournament at Penn State Harrisburg)
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

Final overall: 28-9
Final UE: 26-4 (25-3 regular season)
(United East Tournament at Williamsport’s Elm Park)
Sunday, May 8
Semifinal: Penn College vs. Penn State Abington, W, 9-1 (6 innings)
Semifinal: Penn State Harrisburg vs. Penn State Berks, PS Berks won, 7-0
Championship Game: Penn College vs. PS Berks, L, 5-3

Men’s lacrosse
Final overall: 9-8
Final UE: 4-3 (4-2 regular season)
Wednesday, May 4 – United East semifinals at St. Mary’s (Md.) College, L, 18-5

Friday-Sunday, May 19-22 – USA Archery Collegiate Target Nationals at the Easton Archery Center of Excellence, Chula Vista, Calif.

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

For additional information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

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