Jeannette native picks up honors for Juniata volleyball team
The past week has been both good and bad for Jeannette area native Joe Bortak.
The good: The Penn-Trafford High School graduate, a sophomore middle hitter on the Juniata College men's volleyball team, was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-American team.
The bad: His Eagles fell in the first round of the NCAA Division III national tournament.
It was the second year in a row that Bortak took home All-American honors. The middle blocker was fifth in the nation in hitting percentage (.451) and among the nation's top 25 in blocks-per set (.92). He led Juniata in blocks (103) and was third in kills (283).
Juniata entered last week's NCAA tournament on fire, ranked No. 8 in the nation. But the Eagles were upset by No. 15 Rider in their first match 3-0, by sores of 28-26, 25-20 and 25-23, on Friday.
The early exit aside, it was an historic season for Juniata. The Eagles' Continental Volleyball Conference championship and the NCAA tournament appearance were both program firsts.
The team went 24-12, overall giving it back-to-back 20 win seasons for the first time in school history.
Ault sees action
It's been a quiet season for Jeannette grad Jordan Ault, a junior reserve infielder on the Division III Bethany College baseball team. However, the local product saw his most extensive action of the season last week.
He took to the mound for the first time this season in a 3-2 win over Muskingum on April 23. Ault threw two scoreless innings of relief, yielding just two hits.
Then, he started at shortstop both ends of a doubleheader against Geneva on April 27. He had a combined five put-outs and collected a single in game two, his second hit of the year. Bethany is 11-22 overall and 8-16 in the Presidents' Athletic Conference. The team played Pitt Greensburg Tuesday but game ended too late for this edition. They conclude the regular season on Saturday at Penn State Behrend.
Big week for Cortazzo
The Gannon University softball team and second baseman Kirstie Cortazzo, a Jeannette graduate, entered the week eyeing the Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) tournament, which was slated to begin Wednesday (results were not available as of press time). Gannon, which spent much of the season nationally ranked, has a very real shot to win the tournament. It's a matter of which Gannon squad shows up.
The team won 19 of its first 21 games before finishing the regular season winning just three of its last 12 games. Overall, Gannon is 22-11.
Cortazzo, a junior second baseman, had several big games as the team wrapped up the regular season last week.
In game two of a double-header against Slippery Rock on April 23, Cortazzo had a double, two RBIs and a run scored a run.
In game one of a double-header sweep of Edinboro on Friday, Cortazzo had a single, stolen base, walk and run. Then, in game two, she had two hits, two runs and an RBI.
In the season finale double header against California on Saturday, Cortazzo had a single and a run in game one.
Cortazzo finishes the regular season second on the team in RBIs (26), third in batting average (.366), fourth in slugging percentage (.525) and third in on-base percentage (.427).
Brian Knavish is a freelance writer.