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Penn State Berks athletics pulled off an amazing feat this spring that has never been seen before, by the program itself or by any institution in the North Eastern Athletic Conference. All five of the teams with championships in the spring won the conference title and four of those teams went on to compete in the NCAA Tournament.
In addition to the team dominance, the Nittany Lions took home plenty of hardware when it came to postseason awards. The five teams combined to win 12 major individual awards, while placing 15 on the All-NEAC First Team, 21 on the Second Team, and one on the Third Team. Among those major awards, Berks had four NEAC Coach of the Year, three NEAC Player of the Year, two NEAC Pitcher of the Year, and three NEAC Rookie of the Year.
With the exception of men's golf, the four other sports compete against conference opponents during the regular season. Those four teams finished the spring with a record of 41-1 (.976 winning %) against the conference and all four were NEAC Regular Season Champions.
The postseason kicked off with women's tennis team winning the first of the spring titles for Berks. They downed Bryn Athyn College, 5-0, in the semifinal and followed it up with a 5-1 triumph over Penn State Abington in the title bout. Alyssa Miller was selected as the NEAC Rookie of the Year and Scott Yarnell was named Coach of the Year for the eighth time in his career. The all-conference awards in tennis are based on performance in the individual tournaments and Berks had all 12 of its members earn first or second team recognition. Violet Tran (No. 4 singles) and Lucrezia Pulcini (No. 5) won their individual singles tournaments to earn All-NEAC First Team honors. Pulcini and Deismy Jimenez were No. 3 doubles tournament winners, which gave both student-athletes All-NEAC First Team status. The women's squad had its season end with a setback to SUNY Geneseo in Middlebury, Vermont during the team's first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Overall Record: 9-6 NEAC Record: 5-0
The next team to grab NEAC gold was the men's tennis program. They defeated Lancaster Bible College 5-0 in the semifinals and then downed Penn State Abington, 5-1, in the championship match on April 29. Freshman Curtis Uhle was named the NEAC Rookie of the Year and Yarnell was selected the NEAC Co-Coach of the Year. Diego Olazagasti (No. 2 singles) and Federico Ochoa (No. 4 singles) received All-NEAC First Team status after winning their singles tournaments. Uhle and Ochoa then teamed up to win the No. 2 doubles tournament, which earned both players All-NEAC First Team honors. The men's tennis season would draw to a close when they suffered a setback to Colby-Sawyer College at the NEAC/NAC Crossover Championship in early May. Overall Record: 10-7 NEAC Record: 5-0
A day after men's tennis hoisted the NEAC trophy, the men's golf team celebrated its first-ever conference title. The team had a two-day score of 630 (309, 321) to edge out perennial champion Rutgers-Camden and tournament host Penn College, who tied for second with a team score of 638. Andrew Cornish carded a one-under 70 on the first day of the tournament and followed it up with a 78 to finish in first place overall. Cornish was named the NEAC Golfer of the Year and NEAC Rookie of the Year after his sensational performance. Cornish and Matt Kreider's strong play in the tournament earned them both All-NEAC First Team honors, while Dan Fieger was placed on the Second Team. Rick Bausher was tabbed the NEAC Coach of the Year for the second straight season. The team made its first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament, where they had a 14-stroke improvement on day two to finish tied for 38th out of 42 competing teams.
The following weekend, the softball team got to celebrate the NEAC Championship victory on their home field. The Nittany Lions opened the tournament with a pair of wins, before a setback to Keuka College put them in the loser's bracket. From there, Berks topped Wilson College and took down the Wolves twice to claim the conference crown. Brianna Smith was named the NEAC Tournament MVP after batting .684 (13-for-19) with two doubles, one triple, one home run, six runs scored and eight RBI. In the NCAA Tournament, Jess Rozick dazzled with a four-hitter as the Nittany Lions defeated No. 23 ranked Rowan University by a 3-2 margin. Berks fell to No. 5 ranked Randolph-Macon College and then had the season end with a setback to Rowan. Rozick was named NEAC Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year, as well as earning a spot on the First Team, where she was joined by Hunter Hart. Becca Faust, Val Miller, and Smith each earned All-NEAC Second Team honors, while senior Ashley Malek was picked to the third team. Rozick was also honored by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association with a spot on the All-Northeast Second Team. Overall Record: 25-10-1 NEAC Record: 14-0
The final piece of the perfect run came from the baseball team, who hosted the conference playoff tournament for the first time since the 2012 season. Berks claimed the championship by a 17-12 score over Penn College to win their third straight NEAC Title and earn the fifth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. Tyler Comport, who shined on the mound and at the plate, was picked as the NEAC Tournament MVP. The team would go on to the NCAA New England Region, where they fell to UMass-Boston on day one and dropped a 4-1 heartbreaker to Western New England University in an elimination game. Toby Welk was selected as the NEAC Player of the Year, Comport earned NEAC Pitcher of the Year honors, and Justin Konnick nabbed NEAC Coach of the Year. Welk, Comport, and Dante Salerno were All-NEAC First Team recipients, while Brandon Griesemer landed on the second team. The D3baseball.com All-Region Teams were released with Welk earning a first team nod and Salerno on the second team. Welk was most recently named the D3baseball.com All-American First Team, marking the first player in program history to receive the prestigious honor. Overall Record: 25-12 NEAC Record: 17-1
In addition to the fine play this spring, Berks athletics had plenty to celebrate earlier in the year as well. With NEAC Tournament Championships won by women's soccer and women's cross country, while women's volleyball finished as the NEAC Regular Season Champions.
The women's soccer team won the NEAC Championship for the fifth straight season after topping Penn College in the title game. The team fell 2-1 in overtime to SUNY Geneseo in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Berks swept the individual postseason awards which were given to Caitlin Golden (Player of the Year), Melissa Martin (Rookie of the Year), Megan Jardine (Defensive Player of the Year), and Adrian Munteanu (Coach of the Year). They had five players earn All-NEAC First Team honors and two listed on the second team. Overall Record: 15-6-1 NEAC Record: 10-0
Women's cross country won its first NEAC title in program history after finishing 1st out of 11 teams. The team had three players finish among the top-10, led by Michelle Kiss. Kiss finished 1st overall in the field of 97 participants to earn NEAC Runner of the Year honors, which was just the second runner in program history to earn that honor. She also was selected to the All-NEAC First Team, where she was joined by Amanda Hauser. Mikaela Smith earned second team honors and Sarah Johnston was on the third team. Katie Scheetz-Jones was rewarded for the teams success by being named the NEAC Coach of the Year by her peers.
The women's volleyball team finished as the NEAC Regular Season Champions for the first time since the 2011 season. They snagged a 3-0 win over the College of Saint Elizabeth in the quarterfinal round, before falling to Gallaudet University in the semis. Madison Wojciechowski was selected as the NEAC Defensive Player of the Year. Wojciechowski was a All-NEAC First Team honoree and was joined there by Alexis Horst and Megan Lackman, while Morgan Schwartz was a third team recipient. Overall Record: 14-14 NEAC Record: 8-1
With all the success achieved over the 2017-18 season, the bar has been set high. But with the determination of the coaching staff and the student-athletes they bring in to their programs, this might just be the start of more things to come.