Hazleton, Pa. – The Penn State University Athletic Conference Softball Championship field is set and ready to take place from Saturday, May 7 to Monday, May 9 at the Drifton Sports Complex in Drifton, Pa. Six teams enter, but only one will emerge with the coveted PSUAC title and an automatic bid to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Championship in Akron, Ohio beginning on May 16th. Last year's champion and this season's top seed, Penn State Brandywine is looking for repeat performance from 2015, but a solid field of contenders stands in their way and promises to bring an exciting conclusion to conference play.
#1 Penn State Brandywine
The 2015 PSUAC Champions finished the year with a 19-16 overall record, but went 12-1 in the PSUAC to earn the top seed in the conference championship tournament. Brandywine led the conference in two major statistical categories, tying Hazleton with 274 runs scored and alone in first with 237 runs driven in as a team. Their only blemish in the PSUAC came at the hands of Penn State Hazleton in game one of the April 14 double header.
Brandywine is led by Steph Harvey, Ashlee Stritzinger and Arianna Segich. Harvey led the team with a .427 batting average and second in RBI with 28 runs driven in, while Stritzinger topped the RBI list with 30, hitting at a .364 clip. Segich led the PSUAC in stolen bases with 25 swipes, producing a team high 42 runs scored in the process.
#2 Penn State Hazleton
The Lady Lions finished the regular season with a 22-12 overall record and a 12-2 conference record to land the number two seed in this weekend's tournament. Halzeton fell to Brandywine and Penn State Beaver in split double headers for their only losses inside the PSUAC. Collectively, the Lions lead the PSUAC in runs scored, hits, home runs, batting average, and slugging percentage, while on the pitching side, top all PSUAC schools in ERA, strikeouts and runs allowed.
The Lady Lions are led in the circle by three-time player of the week sophomore Kayla Rhome (Marysville, Pa.) Rhome led the PSUAC in ERA and strikeouts, tossing a pair of no-hitters on her way to a conference best 13-5 record.
Offensively, Hazleton sports four batters hitting over the .400 mark including sophomore Vanessa Michael (Bloomsburg, Pa.), freshman Moriah Lynn (Berwick, Pa.), freshman Samantha Varela (Hazleton, Pa.), and sophomore Sara Stauffer (Mifflinburg, Pa.). Michael leads the United States Collegiate Athletic Association in RBI with 46 and leads the team with six home runs with Varela trailing close behind with five home runs and 35 runs driven in.
#3 Penn State Beaver
Penn State Beaver enters the conference tournament as the number three seed looking for its first PSUAC title since 2013. Beaver finished the season 23-19 with a 10-4 mark in the PSUAC. The western Pennsylvania squad led the PSUAC in extra base hits, walks and stolen bases this season and picked up a key victory over Penn State Hazleton back on April 24.
Beaver is led by Vanessa Jackson who hit .385 in first season while leading the team in RBI with 28 along with a team high 14 doubles. Jackson also serves as Beaver's top arm in 2016. The freshman notched 10 wins and a save, striking out 85 batters in just over 125 innings pitched.
#4 Penn State Mont Alto
Penn State Mont Alto enters the postseason as the fourth seed at 9-9 overall with an 8-6 record against PSUAC competition. As a team, Mont Alto sports a .334 batting average, good for fourth best in the conference and picked up a pair of wins against the six seed Penn State Schuylkill on April 2 but went a combined 0-6 against the top three ranked PSUAC squads.
Mont Alto is led by junior Brooke Porter who topped the Mont Alto offense, batting .464 with 20 runs driven in to go along with four home runs.
#5 Penn State Worthington Scranton
Worthington Scranton enters the tournament as the fifth seed with a 5-14 overall record and 5-8 in the PSUAC. Collectively, Scranton hit .344 on the season and are led offensively by Julie Cardillo and Kaitlyn Calogero. Cardillo hit .464 for the season, reaching base in more than half of her plate appearances while Calogero was close behind with a .458 batting average and a team high 13 RBI.
#6 Penn State Schuylkill
Rounding out the field in the 2016 PSUAC Championship is Penn State Schuylkill as the sixth seed. Schuylkill finished the year at just 4-10 in the conference but had a series of close call defeats against Hazleton, Brandywine, Mont Alto and Beaver, losing by one run on four separate occasions. On March 25, Schuylkill defeated a nationally ranked St. Joe's of Vermont team in a 3-2 ball game and could be poised for an upset in the tournament.
Schuylkill is led by Erin Luckenbill, who led the PSUAC with a .493 batting average and seven home runs. Luckenbill ranks second in the USCAA behind Hazleton's Vanessa Michael with 44 RBI despite only having 73 at bats on the year.
To view the PSUAC Championship bracket for matchups and game times, visit PSUAC Softball Championships for more information.
Click here for directions to the Drifton Sports Complex.