here?

Monthly Archives: April 2015

PAC Softball Championships Preview: Bethany Grabs Top Seed

By John D’Abruzzo

If there really is no place like home, then obviously there’s no better place for Bethany College’s softball team to play during the postseason than Bison Field.

Bethany earned the rights to host this year’s annual Presidents’ Athletic Conference Softball Championship Tournament after it finished 22-14 overall and with a 13-6 mark in the PAC to earn this year’s No. 1 seed.

“I like playing at home and like the home-field advantage,” longtime Bethany coach Jan Forsty said. “I don’t know our record at home but we play well here.”

Actually, the Bison went 11-3 at home this year. They closed out their regular-season schedule with an impressive nine-game winning streak and are hosting the conference tournament for the first time since they captured the 2011 championship. Bethany also will be challenging for a conference-leading 14th PAC title.

Forsty

Bethany Coach Jan Forsty captured her 700th career win this season.

“I am real excited about how we’ve been playing,” said Forsty, who is in her 28th season and recently captured her 700th career win on April 19. “We’re playing well all around as a team. We don’t have that one dominate pitcher or that big hitter. We just have a good, solid team. We get good performances from our pitchers and have gotten some good hits when we’ve needed them.

“More than anything, the kids believe in themselves. Our team chemistry is just phenomenal.”

Thomas More College (23-15, 13-5) earned the No. 2 seed in the four-team, double-elimination tournament and will face No. 3 Washington & Jefferson College (18-14, 11-7) at 10 a.m. Friday in Bethany, W.Va. Following that game, the Bison will play No. 4 Saint Vincent College (23-9, 11-7) at noon.

The losers of those two opening-round matchups will meet in an elimination game at 2 p.m. Friday, which will be followed by a contest featuring the two winners at 4 p.m. The tournament will continue Saturday morning at 11 a.m. with the championship game to be played later in the afternoon. The PAC champion also will earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Softball Championships, which begin with a regional preliminary round on May 7.

The PAC Sports Network will broadcast all of the PAC tournament games live at www.pacstream.net.

Washington & Jefferson, which was the No. 3 seed last season, is the defending PAC champion. The Presidents beat No. 2 Geneva College in last year’s title game, 6-3.

“We brought back five seniors and five juniors this year, so our hopes were high, especially since we came so close last year,” Forsty said. “We were the No. 4 seed and lost to Thomas Moore by one run in extra innings, and then we lost to W&J.

“Last year definitely helped our kids. It took some time to get it going, but once we gained that confidence and believed in what they were doing, the winning followed.”

Bethany’s Kayla Kelly, a junior outfielder, was one of the conference’s top hitters during the regular season. She batted .411 (46 for 112) with four home runs, 27 RBIs and 26 runs scored. Pitching-wise, the Bison had three reliable starters in Cassie Weiss, Kiersten Conwell and Kelsey Bish. Weiss, a freshman, went 7-5 during the regular season with 69 strikeouts and a 2.99 ERA. Conwell, a senior, posted a 6-1 record with 40 strikeouts and a 3.83 ERA. Bish, a senior, was 7-2 with 41 strikeouts and a 4.22 ERA.

“We didn’t start strong and we were actually in a situation where didn’t think we were going to make the playoffs,” said Forsty, whose team lost five of their first eight games. “Once we got down to where we needed to win games, we started playing better. Then we feed of that and feed off that and feed off that, to the point where we were able to gain confidence.”

For Thomas Moore, junior shortstop Ava Walker paces the Saints’ offense with a .381 average and 18 doubles. Junior pitcher/outfielder Mamee Saltzer leads Thomas Moore with 29 runs batted in and 11 doubles to go with her .347 average. Saltzer also is the Saints’ top pitcher. She owns a 14-9 record with 108 strikeouts and a 2.33 ERA.

W&J is the reigning PAC Champion.

W&J is the reigning PAC Champion.

Jen Bahm, a senior catcher/infielder, started all 34 games for W&J and paces the Presidents with a .377 average and 12 doubles. Junior pitcher/infielder Emily Watson has a team-leading 23 RBIs. She also is W&J’s ace with a 9-6 record from the circle with 56 strikeouts and a 2.58 ERA.

Saint Vincent has been led by freshman pitcher/outfielder Emily Duerr, freshman first baseman Shelby Noel, junior outfielder Sarah Swettlen and sophomore pitcher Samantha Emert. Duerr enters the playoffs batting .500 with 29 RBIs, while Noel is batting .446 with 12 doubles and 29 RBIs. Swettlen paces the team with seven home runs to go with her .379 average and 24 RBIs. Emert is the team’s star pitcher and she owns a 11-4 record with 48 strikeouts and a 1.28 ERA in 13 starts.

“We just need to continue to stay hot,” Forsty said. “All the of teams are outstanding and they each have some outstanding players.”

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

PACSN’s Randy Gore Nominated For Two Associated Press Awards

Randy Gore - Wild Things Photo (2)The PAC Sports Network’s Randy Gore was nominated for two awards by the Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcasters Association this week.

Gore was recognized by the PAPBA for two news stories that aired on WJPA 95.3 FM in 2014 and is amongst the preliminary list of winners in the Spot News category.  The final list of winners will be announced at the annual PAPBA Awards Banquet on May 31 in State College, PA.

This is the second time in the last year that Gore has been recognized for his work. Gore, who is also the “Voice of the Washington Wild Things” minor league baseball team, was awarded the Frontier League’s Commissioner’s Award of Excellence this past September for his outstanding service to the community. Gore was instrumental in organizing the Wild Things Ovarian Cancer Awareness Night, which is now an annual event at CONSOL Energy Park.

In addition to 11 Associated Press awards for his news and sports coverage, Gore is also a two-time recipient of the Frontier League’s Broadcaster of the Year Award, taking home the honor in 2008 and 2011.

Gore is the owner and a broadcaster for the PAC Sports Network which recently wrapped up its fourth season broadcasting the PAC Basketball Game of the Week for the Presidents’ Athletic Conference this winter at www.pacstream.net.

Thomas More Caps Perfect Season With National Title

By John D’Abruzzo

wbb-tmc-032115-insThrough 33 games, no one could outmatch Thomas More College’s women’s basketball team.

As each opponent tried to challenge or rattled the Saints, all of them failed.

In the end, Thomas More stood alone undefeated with a perfect record and holding the national championship trophy.

“From the first day of conditioning, winning is the only goal on our minds,” freshman guard Abby Owings said. “We wanted to be the last ones to win.”

Top-ranked Thomas More (33-0) defeated No. 3-ranked George Fox University on March 21 in the NCAA Division III national championship game, 83-63, in the Van Noord Arena on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.

“From where we were last year, that we could go to getting here with everything that has happened all throughout the year, I couldn’t be more proud of this group,” Thomas More coach Jeff Hans after the championship game.

The Saints’ star junior guard/forward Sydney Moss registered her first career triple-double against George Fox. Moss had 16 rebounds and 11 assists to go with her 19-point performance.

“A lot of my shots were right there, but not quite going in,” Moss said after the game. “I was forcing it a little at the beginning. I took it upon myself to post up when smaller guards were on me and to drive to the rim when they put post players on me.”

Owings followed Moss by scoring 17 points, while freshman forward Nikki Kiernan added 16 points and junior forward Alexa Santamaria chipped in with 14.

“We all stayed together and played as team all season,” said Owings, who earned all-tournament honors. “It can be easy at times to go your own way on the court, but we stayed together and played well as a team. That’s what we focused on all season.”

After winning the Presidents’ Athletic Conference crown for the ninth-straight season, Thomas More cruised through the NCAA Division III tournament with victories over the eighth-ranked Washington University-St. Louis, second-ranked University of St. Thomas, fifth-ranked Tufts University and third-ranked George Fox.

“It’s kind of surreal, like what’s next and who are we going to beat next?” said senior guard Sydni Wainscott after the championship game. “But this is it. We all played so hard all year. This was our goal and our destination. Since we were little girls, this is your dream as an athlete.

“As a senior, how many get to win the last game they ever play?”

Competing through the first half of the season ranked No. 2 in the national rankings, Thomas More moved up into the top spot Feb. 15 and finished ranked the No. 1 women’s NCAA Division III team. That national honor, however, never presented a distraction for the Saints.

“[Hans] brought that up to us during practices and reminded us that none of that meant anything,” Owings said. “We wanted to be the best anyway and that’s what happened. We knew teams were coming after us and it seemed like every team we played gave us their all to try to beat us.”

Following the championship game, both Moss and Hans were honored by D3hoops.com and Women’s DIII News. Moss was named the NCAA Division III National Player of the Year, while Hans was selected as the Division III National Coach of the Year.

Moss led the nation in points this season with 24.2 and led the Saints in rebounding with 7.6 boards a game. She also set an NCAA all-division women’s or men’s scoring record with 197 points in six NCAA tournament games. Sheryl Swoopes held the previous record.

“It’s awesome playing with her,” Owings said. “I’ve never played with someone who has the skill set like she does. People think it might be the Moss show out there, but she’s not like that at all. She knows its a team game and works hard to get her teammates the ball.

“It’s been awesome to be her teammate.”

Owings finished her freshman campaign averaging 11.1 points and 2.5 assists a game. Fellow rookie Kiernan averaged 10.9 points and 6.7 rebounds.

As a team, Thomas outscored opponents by an average of 85.5-52.7. The Saints led the nation in scoring margin (32.8), assist-turnover ratio (1.40) and turnover margin (12.12). They also averaged 14.6 steals per game, 18.5 assists and shot 45.4 percent from the field.

The NCAA championship is a first by a member of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference since Bethany College’s men’s soccer program won a national title in 1994.

“It’s a total team effort,” Hans said. “It’s not revolved around one person or two people.It’s everybody.

“That’s the one thing about this group with our depth, it’s someone different every night.”