By John Ostapowicz
After 10 games at home, the Youngstown State University softball team hit the road over a seven-game span, April 14 to 22.
To start off the road trip, the team traveled to Indianapolis to face off against Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in a doubleheader, April 14.
Senior Conchetta Rinaldi said she enjoys road trips because it’s a chance to see different places and play on different fields.
“Traveling is a lot of fun, going to experience other places is part of the game here,” Rinaldi said. “I don’t mind the travel.”
In the opener, the Jaguars overwhelmed the Penguins in the bottom of the fifth inning with seven runs en route to an 8-2 loss.
Despite the loss, Youngstown State walked away with two runs by senior Megan Turner and junior Hailey Niederkohr.
In the nightcap, the team struggled defensively but managed to secure a single run. Junior Sara Fessler recorded a hit that allowed senior Hailey Roach to score.
The lone run was not enough as Youngstown State fell, 2-1.
Over the two games, the Penguins totaled eight hits and three runs compared to the Jaguars’ 21 combined hits as well as 10 earned runs.
With a two-game deficit in the series, the team turned it around against IUPUI with six runs the following day.
For the Penguins, junior Sophie Howell led the way with a stand-out performance on the mound, which held the Jaguars to one run to claim a 6-1 victory. Howell struck out five batters to earn her 10th win of the season.
Over three innings, the team allowed zero runs but in the bottom of fourth the Jaguars secured a single run.
In the game, six different players secured a run as the Penguins jumped out to a six-score lead. Niederkohr stood out for the team going 2-for-3 with two runs scored, two RBIs and two stolen bases.
To round out the road trip, the team traveled to Columbus to take on The Ohio State University for the first time since 2011 on April 18.
The Penguins struggled defensively to keep up with the Buckeyes as they scored five straight runs until the fourth inning.
In the fourth, the team secured two runs. The first came off of a Fessler RBI that allowed junior Elyssa Imler to score. The second was a Rinaldi single to center field which advanced Fessler to home.
Youngstown State fell to Ohio State, 10-2 and over 13 meetings against the Buckeyes, the Penguins are winless.
With six road games left on the season, head coach Brian Campbell spoke about the importance of team bonding on the road.
“Spending a little time together on the road sometimes helps us come together and have a little bit of fun,” Campbell said.
The team falls to 20-20 overall and 8-5 in conference play.
With conference games in full swing, the Penguins are batting .296 with 22 doubles, nine home runs and 56 RBIs against league opponents.
Youngstown State is back in action against University of Wisconsin-Green Bay over a three-game span, April 21 to 22.