WCU opens PSAC tournament play Wednesday

Matt Leon
May 08, 2018 - 6:49 pm
Junior infielder Jared Malone is hitting .482 for West Chester this season with 67 RBI.

West Chester University Athletics

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WEST CHESTER, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The West Chester University baseball team gets its post-season underway on Wednesday out in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, taking on Seton Hill in the first game of the double-elimination Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference tournament.

The Golden Rams are the defending Division II National Champions, and they bring a 31-13 record into the PSAC tourney.

"Going into this season," said West Chester head coach Jad Prachniak, "we wanted to make it clear that we wanted to be the best version of the 2018 version of us. Obviously, last year was last year. But we didn't want to make it about defending last year. We wanted to make it about just making this group as good as we could."

West Chester is loaded with talent. At the plate, the Golden Rams sport a .329 average while scoring more than eight runs a game. 

"One through nine, we have a bunch of guys that can do some damage," Prachniak said. "More specifically, the middle of the order, we have our two, three, four hitters from last year back, and they all have had really big years for us. It currently stands where the middle of our order, those three guys are one, two and three in RBI in the conference. So obviously, guys are getting on base in front of them and they are doing a good job of driving each other in the middle there. But it might be the deepest line-up we've had since I've been here."

Those two, three and four hitters are senior shortstop Nick Ward, junior first baseman Jared Malone and senior designated hitter Shane Dressler. Ward leads the team in runs scored (68) and home runs (13) and he is hitting .372 with 48 RBI. Melone is batting .482 with 10 home runs and 67 runs batted in. Dressler checks in at .370 with 50 RBI.

As far as pitching, Prachniak talked about some of the arms they've been leaning on.

"We've settled in with three guys who have done a really good job throughout," he said. "[Junior right-hander Jon] Fisher, [grad student right-hander Mike] Cipolla, who are returning guys, and freshman [right-hander] Zach Rice. Those three guys have been steady."

Fisher is 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA, Cipolla 6-2 with a 4.48 ERA, while Rice is 7-2 with a 4.68 ERA.

Last year, West Chester was actually eliminated in the semifinals of the PSAC tournament before going on to run the table in the NCAA tourney.

West Chester's game with Seton Hill on Wednesday will get underway at 12:30 p.m.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @Mattleon1060.