By Robert Hayes
Someone must have parked a grill on the Youngstown State University softball field at the Covelli Sports Complex, because there’s been some home cooking the past few weeks on the corner of Ford and Grant Avenue.
After starting the season the season 4-16, the Penguins have won eight out of their first nine home games and are currently riding an eight-game win streak, to improve their record to 12-17 (3-0).
A doubleheader sweep of the St. Bonaventure University Bonnies on Wednesday afternoon gives YSU tons of momentum going into their first conference road trip this weekend at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. This is YSU’s fourth straight season that they’ve had a win streak of eight games or more.
Penguins coach Brian Campbell believes YSU is taking a different approach of late.
“Be a productive out if you’re going to be an out,” Campbell said. “A bunt, a fly ball, as long as there’s a base runner that moves forward. We’ve been in some hard games earlier in the year, and at times we didn’t come through. We had opportunities and I always say when you’re put in those opportunities, eventually you’re going to get used to them.”
Freshman pitcher Addy Jarvis sees her team changing.
“We definitely have a lot more confidence now,” Jarvis said. “We’re not going into games defeated, we’re going in to do some damage, and that’s definitely a big factor.”
Jarvis has been absolutely lights out for the Penguins, as she tossed a three hit shutout in a 1-0 victory over the Bonnies (2-16) in the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader.
It was just another day in the office for Jarvis.
“We’ve been on a win streak, and I knew we had to get another win to keep it going, so I was just pitching for another win,” she said.
This comes the day after she pitched a complete game against Akron, in which the only hit she gave up was a solo home run in a 2-1 victory over the Zips.
Campbell believes that Jarvis is a key component in the Penguins string of success.
“She’s keeping us there, yesterday it was 2-1 and she was pitching and kept us right in the ballgame,” Campbell said. “It seems like she’s been pitching in a lot of the closer games, but at the end of the day it’s a W.”
Maddi Lusk knocked a single and moved up to second base due to a fielding error in the bottom of the 4th inning to set up Liz Birkbeck’s RBI single, which was the only run scored in the first game.
The second game saw the Penguins offense heat up, as Lusk drilled a 3 run bomb to centerfield in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Alex DeLeon keep the offense going when she doubled to to left field to score Tatum Christy, to make a 4-1 ballgame in favor of the Penguins in the bottom of the third inning.
YSU would tack on one more run in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Sarah Bader scored an unearned run due to a fielding error by the Bonnies.
Elle Buffenbarger received her fourth win of the season to improve her record to 4-9, after pitching four innings, and only giving up one run on eight hits. She also recorded six strikeouts.
Lusk came into to replace Buffenbarger in the top of the fifth inning, in what would be her first appearance as a pitcher since April 10, 2018.
She was happy to be back in the pitcher’s circle.
“It just felt really nice to be back on the mound,” Lusk said. “it was just natural, it felt like I never left and it was really nice to get the opportunity.”
Campbell understands how important it is having her back as a pitcher.
“I’m proud of how she in and reacted and it’s just a matter of time before we were able to get her in and make sure she was ready to go,” Campbell said.
Lusk pitched three shutout innings, and only gave up two hits while recording four strikeouts. She was credited with her first save of the season.
YSU is set to hit the road for the first time in a few weeks when they travel to IUPUI this weekend to play a three game series against the Jaguars (9-22, 3-0).
Campbell will have his team ready.
“I think a big part about us is just being able to continue to what we’ve been able to do here,” Campbell said. “Work the 60th feet and moving the runners, to be able to stay within ourselves and do our jobs.”
Lusk is happy to see a change of scenery.
“It’ll be nice to get a different scene, we’ve been here for a couple weeks now, so it’ll be nice to get another place to play,” Lusk said.
First pitch for the IUPUI series is set to take place this Friday at 12 p.m. with a doubleheader starting on Saturday at 1 p.m.