Freezing temps lead to ice-cold bats

Sophomore Sophie Howell approaches the mound, getting ready to pitch the ball. Photo by Cameron Stubbs / The Jambar

By Kyle Wills

Following the postponement of the Oakland series last week, the Youngstown State University softball team struggled offensively, recording just seven hits in its three-game series against Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis.

In game one of the doubleheader on Saturday, April 2, the Penguins could only come up with one hit. However, an RBI walk and hit-by-pitch supplied the only two runs they would need. 

Fifth-year pitcher Elle Buffenbarger was nearly unhittable as she allowed just one run and two hits while striking out 10 to earn her 13th win of the season.

Buffenbarger credited the mixing of pitches for her dominant performance.

“[Mixing my pitches] helps when the batters swing the bat. [I’m just] trying to do my best, feed balls to the defense. That’s how you get through a complete game,” Buffenbarger said.

In the nightcap, the Penguins had more luck offensively, recording six hits with a solo home run from fellow fifth-year Nikki Saibene. However, the Jaguars swung the hot stick as they notched 14 hits in the 7-2 loss. 

Nine hits came off sophomore Sophie Howell who also gave up three runs and walked five in just four innings. Senior Kayla Rutherford came onto the mound to cool down the bats, but was unable to as she gave up four runs through the final three frames.

Head coach Brian Campbell said the inability to make adjustments at the plate contributed to the loss. 

“Not making adjustments was probably the biggest thing. You need to make the adjustment in the change of speed that those pitchers were throwing. We need to do a better job of that,” Campbell said.

In game three on Sunday, both teams needed to bundle up for a chilly afternoon. Like the weather, the women’s bats were ice cold as IUPUI would no-hit Youngstown State and claim the series finale 1-0. 

Buffenbarger was back on the mound for the women and would go the distance, allowing only three hits and a run while striking out eight. That performance would go to waste, however, as the Jaguars took the series 2-1.

Campbell gave credit to the Jaguars pitching for keeping his team off balance.

“That young lady [IUPUI pitcher Madison Bryant] did a good job against us this weekend. The off-speed pitch and not sitting back, spinning it a little bit. I think we had one ground ball and the rest were fly outs,” Campbell said.

The women woke up the bats as they scored 14 runs between both games of the doubleheader against Niagara University.

In game one, the Penguins were able to pull ahead 4-1 after the first four innings. However, the Purple Eagles crossed the plate three times in the seventh frame to tie the game and force extra innings. 

It didn’t take long for Youngstown State to come out victorious as junior outfielder Avrey Schumacher roped a single to right field to score the game-winning run and take the first game 5-4.

Thirty minutes later in game two, the Penguins provided an offensive outburst, scoring nine runs in the 9-2 victory.

Fifth-year outfielder Yazmine Romero went a perfect 4-for-4 to score three runs at the top of the lineup. Junior Megan Turner drove in three runs with one swing of the bat as she hit a three-run home run to left field in the sixth. She would drive in four total in the game.

Freshman Bree Kohler didn’t let Niagara do much as the Purple Eagles could only muster three hits off the New Middletown native in six innings. She also struck out five Niagara batters.

The softball team will be back in action April 8-9 as it travels to Cleveland State University for a three-game series against the Vikings.