The Pennsylvania College of Technology baseball team goes into the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Small College World Series as the No. 10 seed, but coach Chris Howard is optimistic about his team's chances.
"The guys are extremely excited. It's the second year in a row we're going and everybody is anxious to have a better showing than we did last year (0-2). It helps that a lot of the guys have been there before, too. Experience counts in situations like these and that is an advantage that we're going to have this year," Howard said.
Penn College (22-15) opens play at 8:30 a.m. today against seventh-seeded Lindenwood-Belleville (22-19). The winner of that game plays second-seeded Clark State Community College (24-3) at 4 p.m. today. The loser meets the loser of a game between No. 3 seed University of Cincinnati-Clermont (24-7-1) and No. 6 Southern Virginia University (18-14) at 11 a.m. Tuesday. All games are being played at Pullman Park in Butler.
"We deserved this bid," said Howard about his Wildcats, which finished second to PSU Greater Allegheny in last week's Penn State University Athletic Conference Championships. "We played fantastic baseball from the word go. I really felt like this team deserved a bid to nationals and I'm excited for all of the guys.
"It's important for us to get out there and get that first win. ... Last year we came out and played two tough games, had a couple of errors that cost us; but once you get that first win under your belt you start having a little bit more confidence in yourself and believing that you belong. That first game is going to be really important," Howard said.
Penn College has experience against two of its potential tournament foes in Greater Allegheny, which it has gone 2-3 against so far this season, and Southern Virginia University, which it lost to twice by one run in its first games of the season in March.
"Against Southern Virginia we lost both of those games on walk-offs, and we had given up three runs in the last inning of the second game to get beat. But one thing we came away with was that we certainly should have won one of those games. We knew that we were good enough and we belonged and we could play with anybody in the top echelon of the USCAA," Howard said. "Other than the (PSUAC) championship game (10-1 loss) against Greater Allegheny, we're basically splitting games (during the season). We're confident in our ability and feel like we can make a run at this thing," the coach, in his seventh season, added.
USCAA baseball Seeds
1. The Apprentice School, Newport News, Va. (31-8)
2. Clark State Community College, Springfield, Ohio (24-3)
3. University of Cincinnati-Clermont, Batavia, Ohio (24-7-1)
4. Selma University, Selma, Ala. (22-2-2)
5. Penn State Greater Allegheny, McKeesport (28-15)
6. Southern Virginia University, Buena Vista, Va. (18-14)
7. Lindenwood University-Belleville, Belleville, Ill. (22-19)
8. St. Joseph's College-Brooklyn, Brooklyn, N.Y. (20-12)
9. Briarcliffe College, Bethpage, N.Y. (17-14)
10. Penn College, Williamsport (22-15)
The Lady Wildcats' final two games of the season were canceled and they finished the year with an 11-19 overall record, 9-7 in the Penn State University Athletic Conference, but coach Roger Harris saw great improvement in the squad, especially late in the season as it won five of its last six games including the last three in a row.
"We finished strong. When you bring in new girls (by the end of the season seven starters were new from a year ago) it takes time to jell. Once they started jelling we were playing great ball," said Harris, who is in his 12th season as coach.
Harris views the finish as a building block for the future.
"We picked new team captains and all three are first-year girls: Katie Kratzer, of Selinsgrove; Alexandra Brennan, of St. Clair; and Nicole Lo Furno, of Glen Mills. These three girls lead by example when they are on the field. I'm very happy to have them as captains for next year. The energy they bring bleeds over into the other players," Harris said.
Kratzer hit .404 this season, with 38 hits including nine doubles, 26 runs scored and 17 runs batted in. Rachael Shaeffer drove in 16 runs and Britni Fennell hit .389.
Also during the week it was announced that freshman Karey Wolfe was named the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Softball Player of the Week for the period ending April 28. During the team's 3-1 week, Wolfe hit .750 with 12 hits, seven runs, seven RBIs and three stolen bases. She also recorded her first collegiate home run.