Penn State Berks Softball celebrates record season, players receive honors
History was made when the Penn State Berks softball team won its first NCAA Regional Tournament
Berks Softball won for the first time in NCAA Regional Tournament
ITHACA, N.Y. - History was made when the Penn State Berks softball team won its first NCAA Regional Tournament game after a walk off home run by Ashley Malek in a 5-4 victory over Susquehanna University in the first game of Saturday, May 13, 2017.
In the opener against Susquehanna, Berks pounded out 11 hits that included solo home runs by Heather Rissell and Malek. Rissell's homer, a line drive over the fence in left field, knotted the game at 4-all in the bottom of the fourth. The score remained that way until the bottom of the seventh, with the Nittany Lions down to its final out of the inning. Malek strolled to the plate and unleashed a bomb that was a sure-thing homer off the bat that put the entire team into a frenzy as they celebrated a monumental win.
The scoring opened up for Berks in the bottom of the second inning when they strung together a group of hits. Carley Smith led off the inning with a single to left and Kendel Reed had a one-out single to put runners on first and second. With two outs, senior Madison Newhouser lifted a single to shallow left to plate Smith with the first run of the game. After Newhouser stole second base to put runners on second and third, Jenna Heffner delivered a single up the middle to bring in both Reed and Newhouser to build a 3-0 lead.
Credit: Penn State
Susquehanna went to work in the top of the third with three hits that eventually evened the game at 3-all. A leadoff solo homer in the top of the fourth gave the River Hawks a brief 4-3 advantage. But Rissell's shot in the bottom half of the inning quickly tied the game back up at 4-all.
Jessica Rozick again gutted out a strong performance in the pitcher's circle to lead the Nittany Lions to the victory. Rozick scattered six hits and allowed four runs (three earned), while striking out four batters. The sophomore right-hander set down the batters in order in the first, second, and fifth innings. In the top of the sixth, Rozick recorded two quick outs before surrendering a walk. The next batter added a single and the runner on first moved up to second, but wondered off the bag. Smith took the relay throw and pegged the runner leaning off the bag to end the inning and swing the momentum back into Berks' favor.
After the celebration following Malek's heroics, the team had to turn around quickly to take on No. 20 ranked Ithaca for the second time in two days. Nittany Lions saw its magnificent 2017 campaign draw to a close in a 5-3 setback to Ithaca College later in the day at Kostrinsky Field.
The Nittany Lions complete the 2017 season with a record of 29-9 and won the NEAC Championship for the fourth time in the last five years. The senior core will go down as the most successful to ever play for the softball program. Newhouser, playing her final collegiate season of her career with Berks, gave a strong year at the plate with her blazing speed and provided a solid glove all year in left field. The group of Bright, Heffner, and Olsen have been four-year standouts that were able to take the program to an all new level during their tenure. The trio has etched their names all over the record books, while also adding a level of leadership that will be nearly impossible to replace.
Heffner, Rozick garner NFCA All-Northeast First Team honors
LOUISVILLE, KY - After both turned in phenomenal performances this past season, Jenna Heffner and Jessica Rozick received National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Northeast First Team honors, as announced by the association on Monday, May 15.
This marks the second straight year that Heffner earned first team recognition by the NFCA, while Rozick was selected to the second team during her freshman campaign last season.
Heffner, who was named the NEAC South Division Player of the Year and was an All-NEAC First Team selection, enjoyed the finest all around season of her career in her senior season. She finished the season with a .467 batting average (63-for-135) to go along with 16 doubles, eight triples, 45 RBI, 40 runs scored, and was a perfect 20-for-20 on stolen base attempts. Heffner also sported a .704 slugging percentage and had a .500 on-base percentage. She ranks 4th in the nation with eight triples, while her .23 triples/game average is the fifth best in Division III. Heffner also ranks among the leaders in the nation for batting average, hits, runs per game, RBI, RBI per game, and doubles per game. She has been just as vital in the outfield this season, finishing with 34 putouts and two outfield to sport a .947 fielding percentage. Heffner was selected to the regional first team as an outfielder.
Credit: Penn State
Rozick, who was named NEAC South Division Pitcher of the Year and was also an All-NEAC First Team selection, had a dominating season in the pitcher's circle. The sophomore, right-hander finished the year 18-4 with 20 complete games, eight shutouts, 155 strikeouts, and had a 1.02 ERA in 136.2 innings of work. She also tossed two perfect games, but her most impressive performance was a complete-game win over Susquehanna University to give the softball program its first ever victory in the NCAA Regional Tournament. Rozick ranks among the top in the nation for ERA, shutouts, wins, strikeouts, and strikeouts per game. In addition to her strong pitching, Rozick batted .348 (8-for-23) with four RBI, seven runs scored, and one stolen base. Rozick earned the spot on the first team as an at-large selection.
All-Region players are nominated and selected by NFCA member coaches in each of the eight Division III regions. First Team All-Region choices are eligible for selection to the NFCA All-America team, which will be announced the evening of May 24 online at NFCA.org and in person at the NCAA Division III Championship banquet in Oklahoma City.
Heffner selected to NFCA All-America 2nd Team
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Jenna Heffner capped off her illustrious four-year career by earning National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-America Second Team honors, as announced at the NCAA Division III Championship Banquet on Wednesday, May 24, in Oklahoma City.
The NFCA Division III All-America softball teams are selected from the pool of players who earned first team All-Region recognition by eight NCAA Division III head coaches representing the eight NCAA regions. Each team is made up of two pitchers, six position players (including a utility player), one designated player, three outfielders, and three at-large selections. Heffner earned one of the three outfield spots on the second team.
During her four seasons with the Nittany Lions, Heffner has etched her name all over the record books. She is the all-time record holder at Berks for hits (215), RBI (142), runs scored (159), doubles (44), triples (31), total bases (336), and at-bats (503). Heffner ranks second in program-history in games played (147), games started (147), and stolen bases (58), while ranking third in batting average (.427) and fifth in home runs (5).
Heffner is just the second member in program-history to receive the All-America distinction, joining Jess Epler who was named to the first team in 2013.