Casey at the Bat?: YSU Softball Preps for Another Tournament After Week Off

Senior Casey Crozier pitches during a game in Canfield. Crozier and the Penguins look to keep their momentum going while heading into another early-season tournament that will begin on Friday.
Senior Casey Crozier pitches during a game in Canfield. Crozier and the Penguins look to keep their momentum going while heading into another early-season tournament that will begin on Friday.

When it comes to pitching for the Youngstown State University softball team, Casey Crozier has almost done it all.

She ranks second all-time with 378 strikeouts, needing nine more to break the program record. She ranks third in wins, fifth with 10 shutouts and fourth in innings pitch. She’s even thrown a no-hitter.

There is no question what Crozier can do on the pitcher’s mound. The big question is will Crozier finally have one at bat before her senior year concludes?

She’s never had one in her collegiate career. Even 12-year-old Chicago Cub phenom reliever Henry Rowengartner batted in “Rookie of the Year” — he walked on four straight pitches, advanced on a wild throw to first and later scored.

“I’ve actually been asked that a few times,” Crozier said. “It’d be cool, but I probably wouldn’t swing, so I don’t know if that’s for me.”

The Penguins don’t need Crozier to bat but definitely could use Kayla Haslett. The junior did a little of everything on Feb. 9 against the University of Virginia.

Haslett pitched a complete game with three strikeouts in five innings as YSU (2-2) won, 10-2. Haslett also hit a home run, scored three times and drove in three runs.

“Haslett played unbelievable,” coach Brian Campbell said. “That game was one of her best career days here. She also did well in hitting and scoring. She’s done a lot better on her control and spotting her pitches. I think that’s what’s making her effective this year.”

The victory capped the Penguins’ first tournament this season. YSU lost its first two games in the USC-Upstate Tournament before winning its final two. Before Virginia, Crozier earned her first win this season in a 6-5 victory over N.C. Central on Feb. 8.

Crozier struggled in the season opener on Feb. 7 as YSU lost to Towson, 7-3. Despite the struggles, Crozier did not blame the loss on freshman catcher Maria Lacatena.

“It’s a little bit of an adjustment period,” Campbell said. “Vick [Rumph] was a four-year starter there at catcher. I think the pitchers have been really open with her to help her along and try to teach her of what they throw in situations.”

Although it’s only been four games, Haley Knight leads offensively with a .500 batting average. Haslett also has a .500 batting average, but with six less at bats. Because her lone hit is a home run, Haslett has a 2.000 slugging percentage.

“Kayla is one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever met,” Crozier said. “Every season that she’s come back, you can tell that she’s put a lot of work and effort into what she’s done.”

Knight also leads with five RBIs while Haslett, Miranda Castiglione and Sarah Dowd each have three. Castiglione has also homered once along with Haslett.

Another bright spot offensively so far is Katie Smallcomb. She’s hitting .444 with one run scored, one RBI and four total bases. The sophomore shortstop is in her first year at YSU after playing one season at Mendocino Junior College. She batted .442 with 20 RBIs.

“She just goes in and plays the game,” Campbell said. “She just swings the bat. She has played great defense in her couple of games at shortstop. She’s just fun to be around and to see her development.”

After a week off from competitive play, the Penguins will participate in the Tiger Classic beginning on Friday against Tennessee State. YSU will follow that up with a doubleheader on Saturday against Indiana State and Dayton. The Penguins will conclude on Sunday against Western Michigan, ending its February schedule.

While YSU students and faculty members experience the snow, the softball team is enjoying its chances playing in a warmer climate. Campbell was even asked during Monday’s press conference what it’s like seeing grass again.

“We think it’s green,” he said laughing.