Penguins Batter Up with Hard-Hitter

Youngstown State University’s Miranda Castiglione (17) catches a ball at first base for a force out during Game 1 of a doubleheader against Eastern Michigan on Tuesday afternoon.
Youngstown State University’s Miranda Castiglione (17) catches a ball at first base for a force out during Game 1 of a doubleheader against Eastern Michigan on Tuesday afternoon.

Miranda Castiglione doesn’t think about it too much.

Actually, when it comes to her .449 batting average and 31 hits through 21 games, the Youngstown State University softball sophomore has found out that less is more in the batters box.

“I think I’m just relaxed more than locked in,” Castiglione said. “When I go up to the plate, I go about it as just another at-bat like in practice.”

It’s an approach Penguins head coach Brian Campbell also notices from his number-three hitter.

“Miranda is just poised,” he said. “She goes up there relaxed and just sees the ball and hits the ball.”

In turn, the infielder from Brampton — located in Ontario, Canada — has hit safely in 18 of 21 contests. She’s also collected 13 RBIs, scored a team-high 22 runs and hit four homeruns.

“I approach it as trying to lead the team,” Castiglione said. “I feel that hitting is very contagious, so if someone starts it off then it will come. That’s all that’s on my mind right now.”

Campbell applauds that leadership, especially coming from an underclassman.

“She has led this team as far as hitting-wise so far,” he said. “In every situation she’s in, she swings the same and she takes the same demeanor. To be honest with you, that’s rubbing off on some of these other young ladies — just that confidence in the batter’s box.”

To round out the top of the Penguins lineup, Haley Knight is hitting .355 while Courtney Ewing has a .298 batting average. Castiglione admits they are two big reasons for her early success.

“Our first and second batters do awesome leading off and letting us know where the pitcher is pitching it and whatnot,” she said. “So really my job isn’t that hard. I just try to keep it going.”

And that’s the same approach Castiglione’s going to apply to her sizzling early-season statistics — even though she knows it will be difficult to stay so hot.

“My season’s going to have its ups and downs,” Castiglione said. “I’m sure [my numbers] might go down a little in the middle of the season. But that’s what the team is for. They’re going to be there to pick me up.”

In Tuesday’s facility-opening doubleheader against Eastern Michigan University at the YSU Softball Complex, Castiglione stayed hot.

She went a combined four for seven as YSU (12-9) won the first game, 7-0, and lost the second contest, 6-3. Casey Crozier (7-2) was the winning pitcher of Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings while allowing just on hit.

Campbell called it “exciting for the university” to finally open the new on-campus facility.

“It’s just an honor for these young ladies to have a field on campus and they’re excited to be able to walk straight across the street and play ball,” he said.

He added it’s something the team was anticipating for a while

“We talked about the excitement going into it,” Campbell said. “Just having the opportunity to play the first game here. It’s something they’re a part of history-wise. So to go out and just get the first one right off the bat was exciting.”

Sarah Ingalls, who collected two hits — including the first-ever homerun in the facility’s history — called the complex “really nice.”

“It was really exciting and we were so pumped when we were taking warm-ups,” she said. “It’s nice because every other team has had that opportunity except for us.”

The Penguins tied Game 2 in the bottom of the sixth inning, but Eastern Michigan (8-16) scored three in the top of the seventh to put YSU away. Knight had two hits as Kayla Haslett took the loss while tossing six innings.

“When you have your first one, there’s always things you have to fix or whatever,” Campbell said of the complex’s debut. “But I think it went well — real smooth. Overall, it was a very good day.”