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Former Elizabeth Forward pitcher continues to rack up honors with Mercyhurst

| Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014, 6:22 p.m.

Nearly one month after being drafted in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft by the Seattle Mariners, Elizabeth Forward High School graduate and Mercyhurst (Erie) University standout pitcher Dan Altavilla continues to receive postseason accolades.

In early July the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference's sports information directors selected the right-handed pitcher as the 2013-14 Pete Nevins Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Edinboro University track and field All-American Tabitha Bemis was the female award recipient.

The Pete Nevins Scholar-Athletes of the Year are presented to the top student-athletes who have achieved at least a 3.50 cumulative grade point average while competing at an outstanding athletic level. This 24-year-old award was renamed in 2007 to honor East Stroudsburg University's longtime sports information director, Pete Nevins, who passed away earlier that year.

Altavilla, a sports medicine/pre-physical therapy major with a 3.70 grade point average, went 9-1 overall in 2014 with a 1.23 ERA. He led the NCAA Division II with 129 strikeouts to set a new Mercyhurst season record and limited opponents to a .167 batting average.

He broke a 99-year-old PSAC record when he tossed 19 strikeouts in 7.2 innings of work in the opening game of the PSAC Championship against West Chester University.

This past June, Altavilla became the highest Major League Baseball draft pick in program history when he was taken in the fifth round (141st overall) by the Seattle Mariners in the 2014 MLB First Year Players' Draft.

The right-hander became the 15th player in the history of the program to be selected in the draft and the first-ever by the Mariners' organization.

He was also the first NCAA Division II player taken in the 2014 MLB draft. Altavilla also became the highest MLB draft pick from a PSAC school in 19 years.

Altavilla is playing with the Everett (Wash.) AquaSox of the Class A Northwest League.

As of Aug. 12 he had started and appeared in 10 games with a 3-2 overall record and 39 strikeouts in 42 innings pitched.

Altavilla won his last three starts, which included a season-high seven strikeouts in six innings during a 10-7 road victory on July 30 over the Eugene (Ore.) Emeralds. He allowed five hits and three runs.

One week later he limited Spokane (Wash.) to one earned run and six hits in a 7-3 win.

His win streak began with a 3-1 victory over the Boise (Idaho) Hawks on July 25, Altavilla struck out five batters over six innings with one earner and four hits.

Friend takes 3rd at national meet

Uniontown High School graduate Julie Friend finished third in the finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the United States USATF Junior Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., on July 6.

Beginning her sophomore year at California University of Pennsylvania this fall, Friend finished with a time of 10:36.55. Elinor Purrier of New Hampshire and Hope Schmelzle of Purdue took first and second places, respectively. The USATF Junior Outdoor Championships are open to qualifiers age 20 and younger. Friend qualified for this meet in April when she broke her then-school record at the Bison Classic hosted by Bucknell University.

She was one of three NCAA Division II competitors in a 15-women field of runners from all NCAA levels; some elite high school runners also completed.

Friend was selected as the 2014 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year after winning the conference title in the 5,000-meter run and finishing second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

She earned All-American honors by placing sixth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at last May's NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championships. Friend is also a U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic member.

Bruce Wald is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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