Softball coach searches for fourth-straight winning season

Brian Campbell speaks about the game against RMU. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

By Dylan Lux

Brian Campbell is entering his 15th season as Youngstown State University’s softball head coach, and he does so with 345 wins, the most in program history.

Since 2020, he’s led the team to winning records, along with coaching many individual award winners, including 32 All-Horizon League honorees, two pitchers of the year and two players of the year.

Last season, the team finished with a 32-24 overall record and a 17-9 conference record. This earned the team a third-place finish in the Horizon League.

In the 2021 season, Campbell led the team to the best record in the Horizon League. The team completed the season with a 36-15 record overall, with a 28-8 record in the Horizon League, winning the program’s first conference championship.

The team hosted the Horizon League championship, where it defeated Robert Morris University in the first round but came up short in the second, as it lost to both the University of Illinois Chicago and Oakland University.

This season, the Penguins are second in the conference, with a 19-17 overall record and a 7-3 start in the Horizon League. 

Under the leadership of Campbell, the Penguins have the five highest batting averages in program history. The team also have held the top five highest single-season run totals under Campbell.

Prior to coaching at Youngstown State, Campbell took over the softball program at Tiffin University in 2001.

The Tiffin graduate was named Horizon League Coach of the Year twice. One was in the 2021 season, when the team were regular season champions in the conference, and the other he received in 2012, when the team went 29-21-1 and finished fourth in the Horizon League.

The team had five starters graduate this offseason, a large adjustment to make and Campbell said the new players are handling the change.

“We lost our pitcher, our third baseman, our shortstop, our left fielder, our center fielder … sometimes that’s an adjustment period,” Campbell said. “We played a really tough schedule down south, these young ladies have really done a tremendous job since we’ve been back.”

The longtime coach said communication is key to the team’s success.

“I am super happy of how they’ve come back and how we’ve been able to put a lot of this together with the new faces,” Campbell said. “The communication part is a lot, a lot bigger when you’re on defense … I think that’s something that’s coming together, which is nice to see.”

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