Ben Bortz (Exeter) >> Ben Bortz is in his fourth season pitching for the East Stroudsburg baseball team and the 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior right-hander figures to see plenty of action on the mound this spring.
Bortz, from Reading (Exeter Township), has already pitched in two games for the 5-3 Warriors and has picked up a save, that coming on a 3-1 victory over Post on Feb. 19 in Holly Springs, N.C. He’s worked 2.1 innings and given up three hits, no runs and one walk with five strikeouts. He entered this season having pitched 41 games with just two starts with a 7-2 record.
“Ben provides senior leadership and he understands what we expect from our pitching staff,” head coach John Kochmansky said. “He is a pitcher who can enter in the fourth or fifth inning or finish a game.”
The coach feels that Bortz could be a workhorse in his final year with the team.
“We expect Ben to pitch anywhere from one to three or four innings in relief and be effective,” Kochmansky said. “He can throw multiple pitches for strikes and can gather strikeouts.”
Xavier Smith (Daniel Boone) >> The junior sprinter will be one of six Penn State men headed to College Station, Texas, next weekend to compete in the NCAA Division I Indoor Track Championships. Smith is a member of the 4x400 relay that captured the Big Ten title with a time of 3:04.80 on Feb. 25 in Geneva, OH. He will run the second leg, the team rated fourth on the NCAA performance list. Smith just missed out on being in the top 16 in the 60 meter and 200 meter dashes. He missed the 60 by .01 second and the 200 by .24 seconds. He finished first in the 60 and fourth in the 200 at the Big Ten meet.
Jason Hill (Governor Mifflin) >> The sophomore utility player had a solid season with the Iona men’s water polo team, the Gaels finishing 10-21 overall and 3-9 in the Northeast Water Polo Conference. Hill finished with 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points playing all 31 matches. He had an outstanding .556 shooting percentage and also had 12 steals. The 5-foot-8, 170-pounder also did the job in the class room. He was named to the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches All-Academic team and earned an “outstanding” with a 3.71 or over high grade point average.
Adam Myers (Daniel Boone) >> The Ursinus junior finished second in the shot put at the Centennial Conference Indoor Track Championships Feb. 25-26 in Collegeville. Myers posted a distance of 49 feet, 4½ inches to finish behind record-breaking Logan Lewis of Franklin & Marshall (52-6). The toss was a career record of more than three feet for Myers and only five shot put winners since 1994 had a better effort. He had four victories and a third in five meets during the regular season.
Keith Stednitz (Governor Mifflin) >> The Alderson Broaddus senior wrapped up his college wrestling career at the NCAA East Super Regionals on Feb. 25 at Mercyhurst in Erie. Competing at 165 pounds, he was beaten in the first round by the No. 2 seed but came back in the consolation with a first period pin on Feb. 24. On the final day of the tourney, he scored a pin in the second round of the consolations but saw his season and career end with a 6-0 loss in the next round.
Patrick Causa (Berks Catholic) >> The 5-foot-10, 180-pound sophomore is the starting shortstop for the Mount St. Mary’s baseball team, which opened the season with a 0-4 record. He’s hitting .400 (9-for15) with a double, three RBIs and a run scored. In the field, Causa has one error on 25 chances (.960) with four double plays. He played in 48 games as a freshman and hit .216 (33-for-153).
Brandi Vallely (Oley Valley) >> The junior was named to the Centennial Conference first team for the second straight season for her play with the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team, the 20-7 Mules winning the league title. The 5-foot-7 guard leads the team in scoring (13.6), assists (172) and steals (75). Her assists are fifth in NCAA Division III and she’s fourth in assists per game (6.9). Vallely led the division in assists last year as a sophomore with 263. Vallely played just five games as a freshman because of an injury.
Zachary Strohl (Boyertown) >> The senior wrapped up his career with the Akron rifle team at the Great American Rifle Conference Championships Feb. 24-25 in Akron, Ohio. Strohl posted a score of 573 in smallbore on Feb. 24, tied for second on the Zips squad. On Feb. 25, his 588 air rifle score tied him for first on the Akron squad. The Zips finished sixth out of nine teams with scores of 2286 (smallbore) and 2344 (air rifle) for a 4630 total and failed to earn a trip to the NCAA Championships.
Haley Wentzel (Boyertown) >> The junior is off to a big start with the Lehigh women’s lacrosse team. She had four goals in a 19-8 season-opening loss to No. 7 Penn State on Feb. 18 and came back with two goals and an assist in a 13-3 victory over Iona on Feb. 25. She also has two ground balls and a caused turnover. Wentzel entered this season having scored 29 goals with 12 assists including 20 goals and 11 assists including three game-winners last season.
Brett Koch (Schuylkill Valley) >> The Messiah freshman competed in his first Middle Atlantic Conference Indoor Track Championship on Feb. 24-25 in Bethlehem and we found himself on top of the podium after he captured the 60 middle hurdles with a season-best time of 8.83. He also finished 10th in the high jump in 5 feet, 10 inches which was short of his personal best of 6 feet, 1 ¼ inches which he recorded at the Susquehanna Invitational in Selinsgrove. The Falcons finished third in the MAC Championship.
Adrienne Puglia (Hamburg) >> The Lock Haven senior scored a big victory in the weight throw at the PSAC Indoor Track Championships Feb. 25-26 in Edinboro. Her toss of 56 feet, 3 ¼ inches was a NCAA Division II provisional mark and she finished three inches ahead of the runner-up and 5 feet, 3 inches ahead of the third place finisher. It was Puglia’s third victory of the winter, also winning at the Bison Open on Jan. 27-28 and the Orange & Maroon Invitational Jan. 21 in Selinsgrove.
Kali Hepner (Hamburg) >> The Shippensburg junior finished fourth in the pole vault at the PSAC Indoor Track Championship Feb. 25-26 in Edinboro. She cleared 11 feet, 8½ inches. Hepner set a career record when she finished first at the Kutztown 6 Team Qualifier on Feb. 20 with a 16 foot effort. She finished seventh in the PSAC meet as a sophomore (10-10 ¾) and sixth as a freshman (11-2 ¼). The Raiders won the team title with 115 points, four ahead of runner-up Bloomsburg.
G Ryan (Kutztown) >> The junior has earned All-American mention five times in her first two seasons with the Michigan women’s swim team but she’s in a prime spot to earn first team honors at the NCAA Division I Swim Championships starting March 15 in Indianapolis, Ind. Ryan is seeded third in the 500 freestyle (4:34.28), fourth in the 1650 freestyle (15:44.93) and she also anchors the 800 free relay which is seeded fourth (6:55.34). She’s 26th in the 200 freestyle (1:44.94). The top eight finishers in each event earn All-American honors.
Amy Fister (Kutztown) >> The Memphis senior has been selected to compete in the NCAA Rifle Championships next weekend in Columbus, OH. It is her fourth straight NCAA appearance. She helped the Tigers finish fourth in 2014 and competed in smallbore the last two seasons. She’s competing in smallbore again this year and has improved every year – 575.1 as a sophomore, 579.6 as a junior and 580.8 this year. Fister had a combined season-best score (1170) at the Tiger Open earlier in the season and posted a 582 score in smallbore to finish seventh at the NCAA Qualifier Feb. 18 in Murray, Ky.
Heather Wanner (Fleetwood) >> The Alvernia senior had a busy weekend at the Middle Atlantic Conference Indoor Track Championships Feb. 24-25 in Bethlehem. Wanner finished second in the 60 meter dash in 7.92 and second in the 200 meter dash in 26.28. She also finished sixth in the long jump with a 17 foot, 3 ¼ inch effort. And she ran legs on the 4x2 relay which finished sixth in 1:52.03 and the 4x4 relay which finished eighth in 4:29.38. The Crusader women finished eighth.