Fluctuating with the leadoff position all season, Sarah Dowd has been the new Youngstown State University softball player in that spot the past few games.
“For me, it’s more about the inning and situation,” Dowd said. “Once you get past the first couple of innings, position-wise in the lineup doesn’t matter. You do the role you’re needed in the time you’re needed.”
Dowd’s comment couldn’t be any more accurate after Sunday’s contest with the University of Illinois at Chicago.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Dowd and Courtney Ewing drew walks, setting up Miranda Castiglione with a walk-off RBI single. The Penguins won, 4-3.
“I never know what pitch it is,” Castiglione said. “I was just relaxed and had fun. It was just another at bat. No pressure.”
While Dowd rounded third base, UIC (10-18, 4-4 Horizon League) pitcher Bridget Boyle, attempting to back up her catcher, interfered with Dowd. Standing wobbly after hitting the ground, Dowd stepped on home plate and ended the game.
“When something like that happens with the obstruction, she has to make her way to home plate,” head coach Brian Campbell said. “I think everyone was a little confused there, but I’m glad that Sarah was okay and proud of the way she continued to run after she hit the base.”
Dowd is batting .288 with five home runs and 22 RBIs this season while also tallying a .373 on base percentage.
Even with a bizarre ending, a win’s a win. Not only that, but YSU (21-17, 6-4) also swept its conference rival, winning 3-2 and 4-2 on Saturday.
“Honestly, this was a really important weekend for us, and I think everybody is insanely happy that we swept,” Dowd said. “I just hope that it carries forward. That’s all what we were looking for this weekend.”
Alongside Dowd’s lineup positioning working well, the same could be said for Sarah Ingalls who’s been batting fourth the past few games. She hit a two-out, two-run homer in the first inning that put YSU ahead, 2-0.
“When we were in [batting practice on Sunday], coach said that they’ll be going inside on me a lot because that’s what they were doing [Saturday],” Ingalls said. “In the first at bat, I stopped guessing. I just went up there and hit the first pitch.”
Ingalls is batting .283 with six home runs and a team-leading 25 RBIs. Campbell has confidence in her batting directly behind Castiglione who gets on base 45 percent of the times.
“At the beginning of the season, I was up there then dropped down to fifth,” Ingalls said. “To me, there’s really no difference, but it’s still nice to maybe get up in the first inning with runners on and hopefully get them home.”
Casey Crozier pitched well for YSU, going 6 1/3 innings while allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits, three walks and striking out seven. She wasn’t able to hold a 3-1 lead in the seventh inning as the Flames tied it. Kayla Haslett entered and didn’t allow the go-ahead run to score, earning her seventh win.
YSU ranks third in the Horizon League as it hosts Wright State University on Saturday and Sunday for another three-game series, including Senior Day on Sunday. Before that series begins, the Penguins travel to St. Bonaventure University for a doubleheader on Wednesday.