By – Rachel Breckenridge
The Thiel College baseball and softball teams begin their seasons in sunny Florida over spring break. Both teams spent the entire week down south, each playing in a tournament. Baseball played in six games of their games with their tournament consisting of six teams. One of their matchups was canceled due to inclement weather. Softball’s tournament had eight teams competing and played in six of their games, two being canceled due to weather.
Thiel baseball played in the Gene Cusic Classic hosted in Fort Meyers, Florida. They concluded the tournament with three wins and four loses in their seven games played. Their first game of the tournament started off with a win against Bluffton University on March 6th. Baseball took this one 4-0 over the Beavers from Bluffton, Ohio. It was Thiel Baseball’s first opening day shutout since the 2013 season. Starting pitcher for the Tomcats, Travis Harvey, earned his first win of the season and senior Alex Lutz earned his first career save. Both pitchers combined for a shutout. Graduate student Anthony Rago went 2-4 hitting on the afternoon with a run. Senior Dan Lutz and junior Michael Aches tallied RBIs. Nick Jacobs and Trey Williams both had a run and double a piece in the win. The Tomcats lost to the Heidelberg Student Prince’s 6-9 in their Monday afternoon matchup on March 7th. They quickly bounced back the next day in their matchup against Alvernia University, winning 11-10. This game was a thriller as the Tomcats overcame an eight-run deficit in the seventh inning. Alvernia took a 10-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, but the Tomcats rallied back. The comeback started with a grand slam by senior Trey Williams and followed up by an RBI single by Chase Morrison and an RBI double by Seth Johnson. In the eighth inning Nick Jacobs scored the tying run and in comes senior pitcher Alex Lutz, who the Alvernia batters had no answer for. In the bottom of the nineth, Seth Johnson comes through and hits a walk-off homerun to complete the comeback. Lutz recorded the win and starting pitcher Richard Crooks pitched six innings and had three strikeouts. The next day, March 9th, the Tomcats followed up their win with a commanding victory over Rockford University with a score of 18-8. Starting pitcher Max Siguenza earned the win on the afternoon and concluded the day with six strikeouts in his six innings played. Freshman pitcher Charlie Luedtke relived Siguenza and finished off the game with three strikeouts. Senior Jamin Wentling hit a grand slam in the fourth inning, making it the second game in a row where the Tomcats recorded one. Wentling continued his red-hot day and added four RBI’s, three hits, and two runs,
as well. Dan Lutz went a perfect 4-4 with an RBI and two runs, Chase Williams also recorded two hits and three runs. Junior Nick Guarnieri and sophomore Nick Jacobs both contributed two RBIs on the afternoon. Freshman Patrick Shirey scored two runs and a hit in his first varsity start. After a strong start, the Tomcats lost their last three games of the tournament, finishing 3-4 overall in their trip to Fort Meyers. The Tomcats open PAC play at Bethany College on March 26th at 1 p.m.
Thiel softball started their season off their season strong with a record of 5-1 in the Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic hosted in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Tomcats started the first day of the tournament with a double-header, playing Hilbert College and Norwich University. The Tomcats blanked Hilbert with a score of 10-0, with the game ending in just five short innings. Freshman Julianna Sloan gave Thiel a 1-0 lead in the first inning with an RBI single. The Tomcats kept up the momentum recording another six runs, with senior Casey Buechel recorded a 3-RBI home run. Freshman Abby Rottman went 2-3 with two runs, Riley Ladd, Kayla Roddy, and Kylee Yothers also went 2-3. Starting pitcher Kayla Roddy earned the win, allowing just two hits in the shutout and recording three strikeouts. Later that day versus Norwich, freshman Heather Farr gave the Tomcats a 1-0 lead in the first inning with a single. Thiel increased their lead to 4-1 in the fourth inning after Casey Buechel scored a run and Melina Bufalini and Juliana Sloan recorded hits, leading to points. Sloan went a perfect 4-4 in the second game, Riley Ladd went 3-4 with two runs, and Jade Rhoads went 2-3. Freshman Lauren Bonner recorded the win in her Tomcat debut. The Tomcats won their next three games against Fitchburg State College, Cedar Crest College, and posting another shutout win against Gwynedd Mercy University. Their next two games were canceled due to weather conditions. The Tomcats suffered their first loss of the season by three runs to Eastern Mennonite University on March 11th. They quickly rebounded that afternoon in their last game of the tournament against Wilkes University, winning 11-5. With such a strong performance in the tournament, junior Kylee Yothers and freshman Julianna Sloan earned PAC honors. Yothers earned Softball Hitter and Sloan notched Rookie of the Week. Yothers hit .545 (12-22) on the week and tallied eight runs and three doubles. Sloan hit .542 (13-24) in her first week as a Tomcat, bringing in eight RBIs and three doubles. The Tomcats open PAC play on April 3rd at Waynesburg University and are poised for a postseason run after such a promising start.