College notebook: Former C-M standout sparks South Plains to JC title
Shawn Johnson, a former standout at Canon-McMillan, helped South Plains College to the team title at the National Junior College Athletic Association Outdoor Track & Field Championships last month in Mesa, Az.
Johnson, a sophomore, placed in three field events as South Plains won the men’s team title for the eighth consecutive year. South Plains, located in Levelland, Texas, also won the women’s team title for the fifth time in six years.
Johnson was second in the high jump, clearing 7-1¾, third in the triple jump at 51-9 and fourth in the long jump with a leap of 24-6½, which came on his fifth attempt.
Mike Bittel, a sophomore pitcher for Seton Hill, finished a stellar sophomore season at the NCAA Division II World Series in Cary, N.C.
A McMurray native and Peters Township graduate, Bittel was the ace of the Griffins’ pitching staff, compiling a 9-2 record and 1.82 ERA for Seton Hill, which finished the year with a 41-17 record. Bittel was the starting and winning pitcher for the Griffins in their 4-2 victory over Minnesota State-Mankato at the World Series. In that game, Bittel gave up two runs (one earned) over five innings.
Opponents batted only .209 against Bittel, who gave up 55 hits in 74 1/3 innings. He did not allow a home run all season.
Alex Frey’s season and career at Youngstown State ended with the Washington native being the workhorse out of the Penguins’ bullpen.
The left-handed Frey, who is a Trinity graduate, appeared in a team-leading 29 games for Youngstown State, which advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time by winning the Horizon League tournament.
Frey, a senior, played a key role in the Penguins’ 4-2 victory over Indiana State in an elimination game in the NCAA tournament last week. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his first career save.
For the season, Frey had a 3-1 record and 4.46 ERA. He allowed only 33 hits in 40 1/3 innings.
Hunter Bigler, a sophomore center fielder at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, was named to the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove team. Bigler did not commit an error all season in 98 chances (93 putouts and five assists).
Bigler started 33 games for the Crimson Hawks and pitched in two games, allowing only one run over five innings and getting a win.
California University shortstop Matt Peters will be playing this summer with the Chatham Anglers in the Cape Cod League, the nation’s top collegiate summer league.
Peters is currently on a temporary contract, which for the first two weeks of the season allows him to fill in for players who are still participating in the NCAA tournament.
Mike Cramer, a Finleyville native and a Ringgold graduate, led Saint Vincent in several pitching categories. A freshman left-hander, Cramer had a 4-1 record and 4.29 ERA for the Bearcats. He led Saint Vincent in wins, complete games (3), innings (50 1/3), ERA and strikeouts (36).
In track & field
Jessie Merckle, a sophomore at Wake Forest, will be competing at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the women’s javelin when the meet begins June 11 in Eugene, Oreo.
Merckle, a sophomore from Hickory and a Fort Cherry graduate, placed sixth last Thursday in the regional meet held at North Florida University in Jacksonville. This is the first time Merckle has qualified for the NCAA meet.
Already the school record holder, Merckle made her best throw on her second attempt as it covered 167-8.
The women’s javelin will be held on the first day of the NCAA meet.
Allegheny freshman Amanda Balzer, a Chartiers-Houston graduate, established a personal record of 15.69 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles at the Gator Invitational. It was the third-fastest time in school history and the best performance since 2000.
Marshall senior Karli Timko, a Chartiers-Houston graduate, was named third team All-Conference USA in singles competition. Timko had a 14-7 record for the Thundering Herd. She teamed with Anna Pomyatinskaya to win 14 of 16 doubles matches. Timko and Pomyatinskaya had a 12-match winning streak.