Baseball looks to take next step in 2019

3/1/2019 | Baseball

For a program steeped in winning tradition, four consecutive seasons without a postseason appearance is unfamiliar territory. The Kutztown University baseball team showed it could play with the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference’s best last season and is focused on taking another step on its journey back to the top in 2019.

The message remains simple from 17th-year head coach Chris Blum, who enters the new season three wins shy of becoming just the fifth coach -and third fastest-in PSAC history to reach 500 victories at a conference school. Maximize strengths and improve in a few key areas.

“I’m very optimistic about what’s going on,” said Blum. “Our pitchers are doing well in their bullpen sessions and I think we can have a top-notch defense. We just need to sure up a couple outfield spots and have the bottom of our lineup execute their games, whether that’s speed, drawing walks, hit-and-run situations to get on and get guys into scoring position.”

The Golden Bears finished three games under .500 in 2018 at 19-22 overall, but 12 wins against PSAC East opponents (12-15) were the program’s most since its most recent PSAC championship in 2014.

Kutztown’s seven-win improvement in league play wasn’t enough to shift the mindset of fellow PSAC East coaches, who voted the Golden Bears seventh in this year’s Preseason Poll. “It’s understandable,” noted Blum. “There are a number of teams with very good players coming back from last year.”

Indeed, the East will be ultra-competitive, as it usually is. Last year’s PSAC runner-up, Millersville, and West Chester both opened the season nationally-ranked in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America (NCBWA) NCAA Division II Top 25. Bloomsburg is coming off a 31-win season, in which it reached the PSAC semifinals.

Within the Golden Bears’ clubhouse all focus is on getting better each day. The Maroon and Gold have plenty of returning talent to be excited about, too, talent that authored a number of impressive victories last spring.

KU knocked off nationally-ranked No. 4 and eventual PSAC West No. 1 seed Mercyhurst, 7-6, during its annual trip to Wilson, North Carolina. Blum’s squad also split PSAC East series with nationally-ranked No. 17 and East No. 1 West Chester, nationally-ranked No. 18 Lock Haven and Millersville.

The foundation is in place for the Golden Bears to be a surprise contender. Four position players that made 37 starts or more in 2018 return, giving Kutztown a strong core. There are many others that have contributed, but have their sights set on increased opportunities. A number of new faces join the den, while the pitching staff could have a distinctly different look.

CATCHER
The importance of having a reliable game manager behind the plate cannot be understated and Kutztown has one of the conference’s best in senior Nick Lafferty. Lafferty caught 28-of-41 games last season, while sprinkling in nine at designated hitter. Not only is the Croydon, Pennsylvania native a strong defensive option, he’s the Golden Bears’ top returning hitter.

Lafferty, who was an All-PSAC East Second Team pick in 2018, batted .363 with 45 hits, five doubles, three home runs and 36 RBIs. The veteran of 118 games (97 starts) reached 100 career hits with a single in game two at Shippensburg last May. Lafferty is also coming off a season in which he put forth a career-best .987 fielding percentage.

When KU’s catching mainstay needs a rest, juniors Ryan Weller and Connor Teschko are the top options to provide relief. Weller appeared in 17 games behind the dish, throwing out two potential base-stealers and posting a .986 fielding percentage. Teschko caught in nine games.

Blum also suggested senior Jeff Charles and junior Evan Musto could see some time at catcher.

INFIELD
Continuity is the theme among Golden Bear infielders outside of a void at first base left by the graduated Ryan Cox.

Senior shortstop Bo Rottet supplied a team-leading 11 doubles and hit better than .300 for the second year in a row. He gained a few battle scars to reach base, too, being hit by pitch a PSAC-high 19 times. Rottet, who started 39 games at short last season, ranked second on the team with a .425 on base percentage.

Collin Bishop took over as KU’s everyday third baseman in 2018 and has made 61 starts at the hot corner over the last two seasons. The junior from Laurel Springs, New Jersey was the team’s third-leading run-generator with 25 RBIs and nearly mirrored his rookie season in many offensive and defensive categories.

Bishop added some pop to his game with nine doubles (up from two in 2017) and finished 2018 on a high note with hits in eight of his last night games, including four multi-hit efforts.

Fellow junior Mitch Pinder solidified Kutztown’s middle infield with a .305 batting average and 13 RBIs in 18 games (17 starts) at second base, before his second season in maroon and gold was cut short due to injury. Pinder, of nearby Boyertown, has also pieced together back-to-back seasons with batting averages above .300, but he was just as impressive defensively with a .955 fielding percentage on 64 opportunities.

Redshirt sophomore Jake Augustus is credited with working hard in the offseason to improve his game and could push for time at either middle infield spot.

Cox led Kutztown in batting average (.377), hits (52), total bases (65), on base percentage (.444) and stolen bases (9) last season, which Blum knows will be hard to replace. The head coach lauded the versatility of sophomore Zach Moretski and Musto, while also expressing confidence on what newcomer Andy Blum, an Owen J. Roberts grad, can bring to the position.

Moretski impressed in limited exposure as a field player, hitting .464 (13-for-28). He also contributed as a relief pitcher, compiling a 1.00 earned run average in nine innings across seven appearances. Musto had a .333 batting average (3-for-9) in the five games he was deployed at the position last spring.

Redshirt junior Tanner Miller can be utilized in a number of different spots. While Miller appeared in five games at second base, most of his damage in 2018 was done as the Golden Bears’ designated hitter. He batted .279, knocked in 11 runs and scored 11 for the season.

“I’m really happy with our infielders,” said Blum. “They all play a strong defensive game and it’s definitely an area of strength for us.”

OUTFIELD
Senior Mike Villa returns as Kutztown’s starting center fielder, but the corner outfield spots are very much up for grabs following the graduations of left fielders Brady Carras and Zack Delp, and right fielder Dariel Richardson.

Villa, who transferred into the program last season, plays a stellar defensive game, as evidenced by a .980 fielding percentage and four assists –tied for most among KU outfielders in 2018. The Scranton native also drew a team-leading 22 walks, along with producing two triples, seven doubles and 24 runs scored.

“It’s really fun to watch Mike play out there,” explained Blum. “There will be balls hit that you think are going for doubles and he’ll track them down. I think you could make the case for him as the best defensive center fielder in the league.”

Returning players who saw a majority of their time in the outfield include senior Jeff Zebrowski and sophomore Jacoby Pate.

Zebrowski made 16 starts between all three outfield spots last season, collecting 11 hits, two doubles, six RBIs and a .933 fielding percentage.

Blum also has a few incoming options in sophomore Brandon Heere, freshman Ronny Silvestro and junior transfer Greg Power. Power was a .366 hitter with 13 doubles and 25 RBIs at Division III Medaille College last season.

PITCHER
Blum knows that the reliability of his pitching staff is crucial to how successful 2019 will be for the Golden Bears. Kutztown produced three straight seasons of sub-4.00 team earned run averages from 2012-14, culminating in the program’s most recent PSAC title.

In an offense-heavy PSAC, KU has seen its team ERA exceed 5.00 in each of the last four seasons. There is optimism with this year’s crop of arms, however.

Senior Michael Hunter, who played scholastically at Brandywine Heights, led the Golden Bears with a 3.06 ERA, five wins and a complete game shutout over 47 innings in 2018. He started a team-high nine games and opposing hitters batted only .194 against the 6-foot-5 righty.

All-PSAC East Second Team reliever Gavilan Fogarty-Harnish made a team-high 15 appearances last season, including three starts. The junior from Ephrata posted a 5-2 record and was tied for fifth in the conference with five saves.

Steve Wagner started five games for the Maroon and Gold and Zach Peters made three starts. The sophomore duo each gave KU more than 20 innings of work during their rookie seasons.

Kutztown will also benefit from the return of redshirt junior Doug Conrad, a southpaw that missed last season due to injury, but showed promise in 2017 with a 4-3 record and 50 strikeouts across 53 innings. Conrad fanned a career-high 11 in a victory over Fairmont State on March 10, 2017.

The aforementioned Zach Moretski registered six scoreless appearances in seven tries out of the pen. Senior Garrett Alread turned in four consecutive scoreless efforts between Feb. 24-April 11 last spring and Jeff Charles has also been called upon to give the Golden Bears innings.

New to the program are Aaron Cleveland, Noah Davidson, Nick McAuliffe, Eric Petroski and Brandon Staub. Cleveland started four games for Shippensburg a year ago, Davidson and McAuliffe are true freshmen, while Petroski and Staub both come to KU from Cumberland County College in New Jersey.

Kutztown’s season was to open last weekend at the Builder Invitational in Hampton, Virginia, but adverse weather conditions washed out the tournament. Instead, the Golden Bears are in Petersburg, Virginia for round-robin play with UVA-Wise and host Virginia State this weekend. KU’s first home game is scheduled for Saturday, March 23, a PSAC East doubleheader with Shippensburg

Football Ranked Seventh in Super Region One in First NCAA Regional Poll of Season

10/23/2017 | Football
NCAA Regional Rankings (10-23-17)

KUTZTOWN | For the first time in six years, the Kutztown University football team has made an appearance in the NCAA Regional Poll. The Golden Bears were ranked seventh on Monday as the first official Super Region One rankings were released on www.NCAA.com.

It’s the first of three ranking releases prior to the announcement of the 28-team Division II playoff field on Sunday, Nov. 12. The next release will be come on Monday, Oct. 30, before the final regular season ranking on Nov. 6.

Seven teams in each of Division II’s four regions advance to the postseason. Super Region One is made up of four conferences – the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), Mountain East Conference (MEC), Northeast 10 Conference (NE-10), and the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC). The G-MAC replaces the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) this year and will not receive an automatic bid, via earned access, unlike the PSAC, MEC and NE-10.

Kutztown has appeared in two NCAA Tournaments in school history – 2010 and 2011.

The Golden Bears are 6-2 this season and look ahead to 7-1 Shippensburg this Saturday, Oct. 28, at 4:05 p.m. for KU’s Homecoming.

Undefeated Indiana (PA) is No. 1 in the region, followed by Assumption from the NE-10, Shepherd from the MEC and Findlay from the G-MAC. Slippery Rock is fifth, West Chester is sixth, Kutztown is seventh, Notre Dame of Ohio is eighth, Shippensburg is ninth and LIU Post is 10th.

SCHOOL IN-REGION DIVISION II
1 Indiana (PA) 8-0 8-0
2 Assumption 7-0 7-0
3 Shepherd 7-0 7-0
4 Findlay 7-1 7-1
5 Slippery Rock 5-2 6-2
6 West Chester 6-2 6-2
7 Kutztown 6-2 6-2
8 Notre Dame (OH) 6-2 6-2
9 Shippensburg 7-1 7-1
10 LIU Post 4-2 5-2

Men’s Cross Country Tabs Eighth-Place Finish at PSAC Championships

10/21/2017 | Men’s Cross Country
Team Results

CALIFORNIA | The Kutztown University men’s cross country team finished 8th Saturday morning at the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) championship meet held at California University (PA).

For the first time in his career, sophomore AJ Kilpatrick (West Deptford, N.J./West Deptford) led the KU lineup, finishing in 30th place overall out of 146 runners with a time of 28:23.8. Kilpatrick was named to the All-PSAC Second-Team with his top-30 finish.

In a young and inexperienced lineup, with only one returning runner from last year’s PSAC championships, the Golden Bears fared well, placing six runners in the top-60 overall.

Continue reading “Men’s Cross Country Tabs Eighth-Place Finish at PSAC Championships”

PREVIEW: Women’s Cross Country Set for PSAC Championships

Women’s Cross Country
PSAC Preview | Regional Poll Release | 6k Course Map

KUTZTOWN | The Kutztown University women’s cross country team is riding a ton of momentum heading into the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championships this Saturday, Oct. 21, at California University (PA) at 10 a.m.

The Golden Bears won two of their four meets this season, and are coming off their latest first-place victory at the Bulldog Invitational on Oct. 7.

Five runners finished in the top-13 of the field, and seven placed within the top-22 overall out of 224 participants.

Junior Stephanie Bresadola (Lansdale, Pa./North Penn) led the way for KU for the fourth time this season, crossing the finish line in fourth with a time of 22:52.3 in helping KU to a first-place finish out of 26 teams that competed.

Once again, junior classmate Alexis Dongvort (Schnecksville, Pa./Parkland) followed closely behind Bresadola. Dongvort ended in seventh-place at 23:15.5.

Amanda Ferraro (Howell, N.J./Howell) placed in the top-10 at a time of 23:43.4.

Erin Callaghan (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Valley) and Sarah Shannon (Clifton, N.J./Passaic County Technical) finished in 12th and 13th, respectively. Callaghan had an ending time of 23:56.7 and Shannon crossed the line at 23:59.6.

Freshmen Dootleen Joseph (Upper Darby, Pa./Upper Darby) and Katie Duguid (West Chester, Pa./West Chester East) rounded out the KU scoring lineup. Joseph placed 21st with a time of 24:40.8 and Duguid was right behind her in 22nd at 24:41.4.

At last year’s Championships, Kutztown finished sixth out of 17 teams. The team will be looking for its first top-five finish at the PSAC Championships since 2012.

Bresadola and sophomore Lindsay Hoffman (Tabernacle, N.J./Seneca) each earned All-PSAC recognition for their strong performances on the 6k course. Bresadola earned All-PSAC First Team honors after placing 11th overall in a time of 23:09.2, while Hoffman garnered Second Team recognition with her 29th-place showing in 23:53.4.

Head coach Ray Hoffman will use the full 12-player lineup this weekend. It will consist of Bresadola, Callaghan, Ferraro, Dongvort, Shannon, Duguid, Joseph, Julia Wiemken (Howell, N.J./Howell)Julie Stratton (Stratford, N.J./Sterling)Shannon McChesney (Valencia, Pa./Mars Area)Leah Talley (Chadds Ford, Pa./Unionville) and Lindsay Smyth (Landenberg, Pa./Avon Grove).

“It’s been an exciting year for them so far,” Hoffman said. “It’s where I hoped we would be after a good summer of training. The girls got together last spring before they left for summer vacation and talked about their goals. It seems that everyone came back fit and ready to go this year. I haven’t seen a women’s team this successful since probably the 2010 season. They’re on the verge of doing something special at the conference and regional meets.”

Shippensburg University won the PSAC Championship with three runners finishing inside the top-seven and five in the top-20. Bloomsburg University was second with three competitors finishing in the top-10, while East Stroudsburg University placed third.

KU remained fourth in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Atlantic Region Poll, released last week. The next poll is set to be released next Tuesday, Oct. 24.

Following the PSAC Championships, KU will prepare to compete in the NCAA Atlantic Regionals at Lock Haven University on Saturday, Nov. 4.

PREVIEW: Men’s Cross Country Prepares for PSAC Championships

Men’s Cross Country
PSAC Preview | Regional Poll Release 8k Course Map

KUTZTOWN | The Kutztown University men’s cross country team is looking for another strong finish at the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championships this Saturday, Oct. 21, at California University (PA) at 11 a.m.

Last year, the Golden Bear squad finished with a fifth-place finish out of 16 teams in the field, the program’s best since 2002.

Sophomore Nick DeGennaro (Cedar Grove, N.J./Cedar Grove) is the top returning finisher from the 2016 Championships, finishing 42nd out of 134 overall runners with a time of 27:29.1. He qualified as the 10th-best freshman in the field.

KU heads into the weekend’s competition coming off a seventh-place finish at the Bulldog Invitational at DeSales University on Oct. 7.

Freshman Andrew Sulon (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Mechanicsburg Area) led the way for the first meet this season, crossing the finish line in 22nd place out of 268 overall runners with a time of 27:06.1. It was the  Continue reading “PREVIEW: Men’s Cross Country Prepares for PSAC Championships”

No. 4 Women’s Soccer Shutout at East Stroudsburg

Women’s Soccer | Box Score | EAST STROUDSBURG | The fourth-ranked Kutztown University women’s soccer team has not had much luck lately against East Stroudsburg University. And that didn’t change Wednesday night, as KU dropped a 1-0 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) game to the Warriors in what has been a rivalry consisting of tightly-contested contests over the past few years.

Since 2012, Kutztown and East Stroudsburg have played each other eight times during the regular season and in the conference playoffs combined. Each of those eight games were decided by one goal.

ESU has also gotten the better of KU the last three games, and three in a row at Eiler-Martin Stadium. The last time KU won at East Stroudsburg was a 1-0 decision in game one in Sept. of 2014.

The 1-0 defeat Wednesday night is also the first time the Golden Bears (13-2 overall, 11-2 PSAC) have lost back-to-back games since Oct. of 2015.

The teams traded scoring chances on net during the first 45 minutes, with neither team successful in their attempts to break through.

Both goalies were stout, and made saves that were bound for the back of the net, but kept them out.

Sophomore Jenna Bracken (Wanaque, N.J./Lakeland Regional) had a career-high night in goal, posting 10 saves.

Each save seemed to force Bracken in a different direction. She dove to the turf, moved left and right and even batted balls high up in the air.

But in the 59th minute there was a scramble in front of her goal. ESU’s Nicole Abbott found the ball at her feet and poked one past Bracken, which proved to be the game-winner for the Warriors (10-3-2, 10-3-1).

Kutztown had its chances in a late flurry with under 5:00 left, but were unable to find netting.

KU will look to stop the two-game skid on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. at Keystone Field for Senior Day.

Trio of Golden Bears Name to NFHCA Division II Senior Game Roster

Field Hockey
Official Release

KUTZTOWN | Kutztown University field hockey seniors Morgan Aldinger (Pennsburg, Pa./Upper Perkiomen)Courtney Konowal (Plymouth Meeting, Pa./Plymouth-Whitemarsh) and Chardonnay Hope (New Castle, Del./William Penn) have been announced as members of the 2017 Victory Sports Tours/NFHCA Division II Senior Game team. The game will be held on Nov. 18 at Bellarmine University as part of the Division II Field Hockey Championship weekend in Louisville, Ky.

46 student-athletes (34 participants, 12 alternates) were selected to compete in the game.

Aldinger has been a staple on the KU backline in her four-year career in Maroon and Gold, playing strong defense, but also being the go-to penalty corner specialist for the Golden Bears. The Pennsburg, Pa.-product has tallied 11 points this season with three goals and five assists.

For her career, Aldinger has started in 67 total games and has a combined 37 points with 13 goals and 11 assists from her defensive position.

Academically, the Upper Perkiomen High School graduate was named to the 2016 NFHCA National Academic Squad in addition to being honored as a two-time PSAC Scholar-Athlete and earning a D2ADA Academic Achievement Award for the 2016-17 school year.

Konowal has been the team captain for Kutztown each of the last two seasons and has registered eight points in her senior campaign, with three goals and two assists from her midfield position.

Konowal has started all 70 games she has played in her career with 12 career goals and 11 assists, posting a combined 35 points. On the field, the Plymouth-Whitemarsh graduate has received All-PSAC honors in each of her three seasons, earning a second-team selection in 2014 and third-team selections in both 2015 and 2016.

In the classroom, the Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-native has earned a litany of academic awards, being named a three-time PSAC Scholar-Athlete and two-time D2ADA Academic Achievement Award winner.

Konowal has also received national recognition for her academic efforts as a member of the 2017 CoSIDA Academic All-District Team.

Hope, also a two-time team captain, has been the steadying force in between the pipes for KU during the last two seasons. This season, the New Castle, Del.-native has a minuscule 1.20 goals against average and 66 saves with a 9-6-0 overall record. Hope ranks in the top-three in the PSAC in goals against, saves and save percentage.

In her career, Hope has played in 46 games, logging over 2,700 minutes in net for Kutztown with a career 1.50 GAA and 190 saves. Her career record sits at 21-16-0 with nine shutouts.

On Tuesday night, Hope was tremendous in the Golden Bears 2-1 victory over Mansfield, stopping six of seven shots on goal, helping to secure an important win for KU field hockey’s playoff push.

Graham Nabs Second PSAC Golfer of the Week Honor of Season

Women’s Golf
PSAC Release

KUTZTOWN | Four days after firing the low-round at the East Stroudsburg Invitational, Kutztown University’s Rebecca Graham (Carlisle, Pa./Boiling Springs) was honored by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) as its Golfer of the Week, as announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Graham not only secured the individual win at ESU with a 76 in the one-round invitational, but also led her team to victory, as KU shot a combined 313, 23 strokes ahead of second-place East Stroudsburg.

The win for Graham was her first of the 2017 season and second of her career, finishing tied for first at last year’s Alvernia Invitational. Graham has posted three top-three individual finishes this season for a Golden Bear squad that has won four of its six team competitions. Graham’s scoring average of 79.2 is a career best, down 6.7 strokes from last season.

The PSAC Golfer of the Week Honor is the third of the season for the Maroon and Gold, as Graham and teammate Shannon Weber (Kutztown, Pa./Kutztown Area (Millersville)) received co-Golfer of the Week Honors for Week 2 of the season. Weber also earned an individual honor for Week 4.

The Golden Bears are gearing up for the PSAC Championships, which will be held on Oct. 21-22 at Hershey Country Club in Hershey, Pa.

Women’s Golf Gears Up for Postseason with Saturday Win at East Stroudsburg

Women’s Golf Results

STROUDSBURG | Rebecca Graham (Carlisle, Pa./Boiling Springs) and the Kutztown University women’s golf team won the ESU Invitational Saturday for its third-straight win and fourth of the fall season.

Graham shot a 76 to win the event of 29 golfers. It is her first win of the year and second of her career.

The Golden Bears shot a 313 for a 23-stroke victory in the field of five teams. East Stroudsburg finished second, Alvernia was third, Marywood was fourth and Jefferson finished fifth.

Shannon Weber (Kutztown, Pa./Kutztown Area (Millersville)) shot one stroke off Graham with a 77 for second place. Freshman Jillian Jones (Framingham, Mass./Framingham) was third with a 78 as KU posted the top-three finishers in the field.

Caity Leppert (Layton, N.J./Kittatinny Regional) rounded out the top-four golfers with an 82 for sixth place, as Rachel Tarnopoll (Sparta, N.J./Pope John XXIII) rounded out the top-10 with an 87.

Wrapping up Kutztown’s fall season, KU finished in the top-two in all six invites, including four victories.

Next up, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championships. KU will travel to Hershey, Pa. for the conference championships on Oct. 21-22.

Field Hockey Falls in Second Half at No. 8 West Chester

Field Hockey | Box Score

WEST CHESTER | The Kutztown University field hockey team surrendered two second-half goals Wednesday to tell the tale of its 2-0 setback at No. 8 West Chester University in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) action from Vonnie Gros Field.

Kutztown goalkeeper Chardonnay Hope (New Castle, Del./William Penn) continued her commanding play in the cage by making seven saves in the first half. The shot differential proved too large for the Golden Bears, who were outshot 21-4 for the game.

In the 44th minute, West Chester beat the keeper off a tipped pass off a corner for a 1-0 lead. Four minutes later, West Chester capitalized again off a corner, scoring from the top of the circle for its insurance goal.

Hope ended with a season-high 10 saves.

The Golden Bears remain on the road this weekend, Saturday, Oct. 14, to take on Mercyhurst University at 1 p.m.