MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – Fresh off the most successful season in program history, Penn State Harrisburg looks poised to put together another memorable campaign this spring. The Lions return plenty of talent from one of the nation's most dangerous lineups in 2019, as well the entire starting rotation from a year ago. Baseball is just around the corner and head coach Ryan Bown's group is set to open the season with a doubleheader against Franklin & Marshall at Ephrata High School's War Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Feb 22.
Look Who's Back
The Blue & White return a ton of talent from a squad that won a program-record 33 games, advanced to the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Championship Series and earned the program's first-ever NCAA Division III Tournament victory. The Lions will be led by a senior class that includes 2019 consensus first-team all-American and regional player of the year Bret Williams, two-time 2019 all-region honoree Travis Van Houten, power-hitting Zachary Koroneos, hard-throwing starter Michael De Leon, versatile backstop Tyler Aug and seasoned relievers Brandon Riggs, Austin Kunkel and John Olcott.
The lineup will stay strong thanks to the returns of juniors Chase Smith and Ryan McSorley, each of whom have reached the 100-hit marks for their careers, as well as fellow junior starter Casey Winters. Also back to provide depth to the lineup and around the diamond are talented position players Tucker Ell, Matt Parks and Dallas Hite.
Van Houten and De Leon will again be joined in the rotation by a 2019 all-conference honoree in junior Zach Gettys. Other returners with valuable starting experience include sophomores Mason Vogwill and Nick Fitzgerald. Junior Tyler Jackson had a stellar 2019 season and he'll look to continue his strong play out of the bullpen this spring. Brad Richards, Tyler Stabley and Kieran Kearns impressed during relief outings a year ago and Chris Brindle and Kevin Maiolo are also back to provide a plethora of arms in the pen.
The Lions bring in a class of 13 freshmen this spring; five of whom are position players and eight of whom will add to the team's depth on the mound. Also joining the squad this season is transfer Ben Closson. The senior catcher should allow for Aug to grab a rest when need be, while also providing pop to the lineup.
Among the youngsters, Jack Rinehimer, Brandon Feltman and Robbie Skinner will add to the infield group, while Carson Barge will provide another option in the outfield. Cade Warrick adds another catcher to the bunch and Simeon Davis could split time between the rubber and the rest of the diamond.
A total of seven rookie pitchers also join the program this season. Logan Bolduc, Everett Horton, Hunter Merritt, Austin Mumaw, Joel Sneeringer and Tom Westers will give head coach Ryan Bown plenty of options this spring. Luke Myers, fresh off earning all-conference honors as a member of the men's soccer team last fall, should also pop out of the pen.
At the Polls
Penn State Harrisburg is ranked No. 24 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's 2020 Preseason NCAA Division III Poll. It is the program's first-ever preseason national ranking. The Blue & White earned 220 total points in the organization's preseason rankings to secure a top-25 position. The complete CBN Preseason Poll can be viewed at this link.
Following his outstanding 2019 campaign, Bret Williams was named a D3baseball.com Preseason First-Team All-American earlier this winter. Williams joined teammates Travis Van Houten, Zachary Koroneos, Chase Smith and Tyler Jackson as players named to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Division III Players to Watch List. For more information regarding the team's preseason recognition, click here.
Change of Scenery
This spring, the program returns to the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) after spending the last six seasons competing in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC). The Lions advanced to the CAC Championship Series each of the past two seasons and will look to win their second NEAC Title this year after capturing their first-ever league championship in 2013.
The non-conference schedule will make for a fun slate this spring, as the Lions are set to face six teams that competed in the NCAA Division III Tournament a year ago. Johns Hopkins, Salisbury, Shenandoah, Alvernia, Keystone and Penn State Abington are 2020 opponents who qualified for the big dance last season.
Additionally, nine 2020 opponents in Salisbury (No. 13/13), Johns Hopkins (No. 14/28), Shenandoah (RV/No. 34), Randolph-Macon (RV/No. 38), Franklin & Marshall (RV/RV), St. John Fisher (RV/RV), Hood (RV, NR), Alvernia (NR/RV) and Keystone (NR, RV) are nationally-ranked or receiving votes in the D3baseball.com/NCBWA and/or Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Division III Preseason Polls.
Circle the Date
Feb. 22 – vs. Franklin & Marshall (at Ephrata High School), 11 a.m.
It's not often that the American Baseball Coaches Association's (ABCA) reigning regional player of the year gets to face off against the reigning regional pitcher of the year in the season opener but that's exactly what's set to happen when Penn State Harrisburg slugger Bret Williams steps into the box opposite Franklin & Marshall hurler Jonathan Cole on Saturday morning. Both teams return plenty of talent from last season's respective squads and it should make for an entertaining season-opening doubleheader.
March 15 – at Salisbury, 2 p.m.
Despite moving on from the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) this spring, the Lions will continue a budding rivalry with a familiar foe as of late when they travel south for a single game against nationally-ranked Salisbury in mid-March. The Seagulls got the best of Penn State Harrisburg during last year's regular season but the Blue & White returned the favor by eliminating their one-time conference foes from the CAC Playoffs in early May.
April 18-19 – vs. Penn State Abington, 12 p.m.
After six years of competition in the CAC that culminated in a trip to the NCAA Tournament, Penn State Harrisburg returns to the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) this spring looking to reintroduce itself as one of the league's top teams. The Lions will have the chance to do just that when they welcome the defending NEAC Champions from Penn State Abington to Middletown, Pa. for a three-game weekend series in mid-April.
After a couple of preseason schedule changes, the Lions will open their 2020 campaign against Franklin & Marshall at Ephrata High School on Saturday, Feb. 22. First pitch of the doubleheader is set for 11 a.m.