By Will Clark
Coming off a 30-24 season, the Youngstown State University softball team will look to continue its success this season. The Penguins will have a roster that features the Horizon League Co-Player of the Year, the Freshman Player of the Year and 13 underclassmen.
Head coach Brian Campbell is prepared to get his team back out there and ready to play. With the first game of the season right around the corner, Campbell has confidence in this year’s roster. The team has seven freshmen that will look to contribute early in the starting lineup.
“We do have some freshman right now that will be in our starting lineup that have developed to the college game,” Campbell said.
Coach Campbell doesn’t have any concerns with the young players in his lineup. Returning starters from last season will look to pass on their knowledge to the new faces on the roster. Infielder Miranda Castiglione, Co-Player of the Year and Horizon League First-Teamer; outfielder Sarah Dowd, previous Freshman Player of the Year; and senior pitcher Kayla Haslett will all be great assets to the team’s success this year.
The Penguins will focus on putting more pressure on opposing team’s defenses this season. Campbell has faith that the speed and hitting will be able to set their team apart from the others.
“We have some young ladies that can hit the long ball, but our main focus is more on base running and putting the ball into play,” he said.
When asked about the team’s new lineup, Castiglione was very eager to get back out on the field and into the swing of spring.
“I am excited; I think it’s going to be a lot different than last year. We have a lot different aspects of the game to offer,” Castiglione said. “We are really going to have to capitalize on our speed and get the runs across and also hold tight on our defense. Defense is going to be a big factor this year in all the games we play and in getting the job done.”
The Penguins are excited about the speed that the freshman will bring on both offense and defense. The team will look to use its speed on the base paths as a way to produce runs early on.
“I think a lot of the freshmen, if not all of them, are fast. We weren’t as fast last year, but I think it’s going to be really important and come in handy,” Castiglione said. “We have a lot of different lineups we can go with. I think no matter who is on the field or in the dugout, we are going to be a strong unit this year and we can go pretty far.”
When asked about being co-player of the Horizon League last year and any added pressure from trying to perform at the same level as last year, Castiglione was very modest about the award.
“The award really humbled me, but I dropped it at the end of the season and I am approaching the new season with a new slate,” she said.
The YSU softball team kick-starts their season on Friday, Feb. 6 against University of Maryland Eastern Shore during the Campbell Tournament in Buies Creek, North Carolina.