By Marc Weems
What was originally supposed to be a doubleheader played at Robert Morris University came to Youngstown due to an unplayable field. Youngstown State University won the first game 8-0 in five innings and won the second game 12-3 in five innings.
The YSU softball team (13-17) got off to a hot start as it put two runs on the board in the first inning and continued from there. Pitcher Maddi Lusk (8-7) threw a complete game (5.0 innings) shutout with just two hits and seven strikeouts. She also was 2-for-3 with three runs batted in. Lusk lowered her earned run average to 2.18.
“I was just going right at the batters like I’ve been doing,” Lusk said. “Screwballs inside along with my drop pitch which I’ve been doing for quite a while in my sequence. I was just waiting for good pitches to hit. When they were giving me good pitches to hit, I was looking to drive them well.”
Lusk also said that the whole team has been working hard on driving the ball better at the plate.
YSU broke open the scoring on a Lusk 2-run single that put the Penguins up 6-0 and it never looked back.
“Just to go into it, there were some field issues down at RMU,” YSU head coach Brian Campbell said. “It was nice to be able to get some innings in before conference play for both of us. I’m proud of what these ladies did for us offensively today. We are taking the right steps to be able to put more runs on the board.”
For Robert Morris University (6-21) pitcher Kaitlin Ellzy (1-3) went three innings while giving up seven runs on eight hits and four earned runs. For YSU, Caitlin Minney went just two innings while giving up two earned runs with five hits. Paige Geanangel (3-2) replaced Minney and went three innings while giving up just two hits and one run.
What put YSU over the top was third basemen Stevie Taylor’s grand slam (2) in the fourth inning was part of a 7-run inning by the Penguins.
“We had really great games today as a team,” Taylor said. “We hit the ball really well and we were in scoring position a lot. I think that it was a really good way to end the game and we are on such a good streak right now.”
In both games, YSU put up runs in the first inning to put themselves ahead and then closed the games with a 5-run fourth inning in game 1 and a 7-run fourth inning in game 2.
“We’ve improved so much this season,” YSU rightfielder Cali Mikovich said. “Being capable of jumping on teams early is so nice. We started the season by not putting as many runs on the board as we do now. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on our hitting and we know that is what will win us games.”
Mikovich also said that it is nice to be able to help the pitchers out when they are doing such a great job.
Mikovich also played well in both games going 3/6 with one home run and two runs scored.
“We want to be behind our pitchers the whole game whether it is defense or offense,” Mikovich said. “Knowing that we have the capability to produce more than a few runs is a really relaxing feeling.”
YSU is currently on an 8-game win streak. It will be looking to continue that streak when it hits the road to start Horizon League at Valparaiso University. YSU plays Mar 31 at 4pm and then a 1pm game and a 3pm game on April 1.