Penguins play back-to-back

Softball team celebrates win over Oakland University. Photo courtesy of Robert Hayes

By John Ostapowicz

Over a four-day span, the Youngstown State University softball team had a busy schedule. Six games were played, all of which were doubleheaders. 

With a cancellation to the series April 1 because of inclement weather, the series was moved to a doubleheader, April 2. 

The Penguins split the series against Oakland University inside the Covelli Sports Complex. 

With an outdoor sport such as softball, cancellations are not uncommon. Head coach Brian Campbell said he adjusts accordingly to make sure it doesn’t affect the players.

“It’s one of those things where we deal with the weather and just go with the flow,” Campbell said.

The first game of the doubleheader started out with a loss for Youngstown State, 2-1. Over eight innings, junior Sara Fessler and senior Conchetta Rinaldi recorded two hits. 

Despite the loss, junior pitcher Sophie Howell had a standout performance as she struck out four batters. 

Howell and senior Megan Turner have led the way for the team as they were named the Horizon League Pitcher and Player of the Week, respectively March 28. The Penguins were 6-1 overall and 4-1 in Horizon League play in part of the duo’s performance. 

Over the seven-game span, Howell went 3-0 with a 1.54 earned-run average and 23 strikeouts in 22.2 innings pitched. Turner batted .471 as she went 8-for-17 along with two runs scored, two doubles, five home runs and 11 RBIs. 

Youngstown State has three players who lead in several different categories in the Horizon League. Turner leads the league with five home runs, while Howell leads the league with seven wins as a pitcher. 

In the nightcap, the Penguins bounced back with a 6-1 victory over the Golden Grizzlies. Junior Devan Ryan struck out five batters and held the final 10 batters scoreless. 

The Penguins learned from the tough loss and brought that motivation into the game that followed. Rinaldi credits the team’s grit and ability to rebound after a loss.

“Someone had to come short and in the second game we showed them who we were,” Rinaldi said. 

In the bottom of the third inning, Youngstown State scored three runs. Redshirt sophomore Jillian Jakse added to the effort with a two-run single and a bases-loaded walk by senior Avery Schumacher.

Campbell said he was satisfied with the team’s performance in the doubleheader.

“We played really well over 15 innings, and the mindset rolling into the next couple series,” Campbell said. 

The Penguins game against the University of Akron on April 5 was rained out in the first inning. 

Youngstown State is back in action against Niagara University in a doubleheader at home, April 6. The series starts a five-game homestand for the Penguins, which ends April 12.