Softball runs to first in Horizon League

The YSU softball team celebrates after a triple play. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

By Dylan Lux / The Jambar

The preseason polls for Horizon League softball had the Youngstown State University softball team picked to finish fourth in the standings. After six games in league play, the team has yet to lose to a conference opponent.

After completing a three-game sweep of the University of Detroit Mercy at home, YSU traveled to Fort Wayne, Indiana for a three-game series against Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Two Penguins received Horizon League honors after the Detroit Mercy series.

Senior Sophie Howell received the Under Armour Horizon League Softball Pitcher of the Week, while senior Hailey Niederkohr was named the Under Armour Horizon League Softball Player of the Week.

Niederkhor said she was grateful for the recognition after earning the award, which she believes was a testament to her hard work.

“It’s really cool … to be recognized. I worked really hard to get that [award],” Niederkhor said. “I don’t really care about stats, I just wanted to be accomplished in that moment and just be able to be recognized.”

Howell said the award was unexpected, but gave credit to her competition in the Horizon League.

“It’s definitely something that I never planned on getting going into the week,” Howell said. “It’s nice seeing that out of all the good competition — even people on our team — that I did good enough to be recognized.”

In Fort Wayne, the Penguins started off the March 22 doubleheader with a 2-0 win over the Mastodons. Sophomore Kennedy Dean and senior Elyssa Imler both scored a run in the first matchup.

In game two of the three-game series, YSU prevailed, 12-5, with 15 more total runs than in game one.

Five Penguins finished with at least one run in the contest, while freshman Lydia Wilkerson led the game with four runs and four hits.

With the season sweep on the line, Youngstown State led 2-1 after the fifth inning. No runs were scored in the sixth, but YSU took a 3-1 lead in the seventh.

The Mastodons scored in the bottom of the seventh inning, but the Penguins held them to one run, completing the sweep, 3-2.

Dean and freshmen Macy Littler and Autumn Behlke each scored a run in the game.

The Penguins took on St. Bonaventure University on March 27 in St. Bonaventure, New York.

Before the matchup with the Bonnies, YSU was 17-10 overall and 6-0 in Horizon League play.

The Penguins took the first match of the doubleheader, 16-5, as 11 Penguins scored a run, with Imler leading the game with 3.

Stats for game two of the doubleheader can be found on

The softball team will host three-game conference series against the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Game one will take place at 3 p.m. on March 29.

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