By Robert Hayes
The Youngstown State University softball team celebrated Senior Day on Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader, capping off a weekend sweep of the Cleveland State University Vikings beating the team 2-1 and 4-2. YSU also defeated CSU on Friday evening by a score of 3-0.
For the Penguins, this sweep brings them to .500 for the first time this season with a record of 20-20, and an 8-2 record in the Horizon League gives them sole position of first place over the University of Illinois-Chicago.
It has been quite the turnaround for YSU, as the team has won 16 out of their last 19 games after starting the season 4-17. The Penguins also currently post a mark of 11-1 at home.
Solid pitching guided YSU throughout the series against the Vikings (10-26, 3-9) as Addy Jarvis, Elle Buffenbarger and Paige Geanangel each started a game and combined to only give up three runs over the span of three games. Jarvis pitched a shutout in game one, and also recorded saves in games two and three.
YSU coach Brian Campbell was excited to see his pitching staff click as a unit.
“We wanted to see all three of them start a game this weekend and see all three of them put it all together. I’m just tickled pink to see that they were able to do that,” Campbell said. “That just makes us better as team.”
Geanangel, who was one of three seniors honored on Senior Day, talked about how having support from her team helps the pitching staff.
“We all got a win, which was great because we played a three game series, but to have the confidence to have three pitchers go out and take one of the games and know that you’re backed up if something goes wrong, it’s just a great feeling as a pitcher and as a team,” Geanangel said.
She started the third game of the series and allowed two hits and two earned runs through five innings pitched. The other two YSU seniors honored were Dani Dadig and Lexi Zappitelli, who both combined for three hits and three runs scored on Senior Day.
Maddi Lusk, who went 2-2 with an RBI in game two of the series, said she knows her team has confidence at the plate.
“We’re just seeing the ball really well and making sure that we’re being aggressive and hitting good pitches,” Lusk said.
Grace Cea, who had two RBI in the third game of the series, said she knew rebounding after some recent losses was necessary.
“We kinda had a tough weekend when we played Detroit Mercy ,” Cea said. “We won one and lost two, so I think that we were all just looking for a confidence booster to bring our energy back up.”
“It came down to us wanting to win, and us wanting it more than the other team, so I think that now later in the season, going over that, and understanding how we can get people in and do our job effectively.” Cea said.
Tatum Christy also blasted a solo home run in the third game of the weekend series.
Campbell talked about struggles in non-conference play have helped improve his team’s approach to hitting
“They were in this situation a lot in the preseason at the beginning of the year,” Campbell said. “When you’re put in that situation so much you become immune to it and start approaching it like no one’s on base and stuff.”
Even YSU is now in first place, Campbell just wants to take it one game at a time.
“We play Tuesday at 3 p.m., and that’s all that matters in these kids eyes and it should matter,” Campbell said.
The Penguins begin a three game series against Wright State University in a doubleheader on Tuesday afternoon, with first pitch taking place at 3 p.m.