By John Ostapowicz
After a cancellation of the April 5 doubleheader against the University of Akron, the Youngstown State University softball team bounced back with a two-game sweep, April 6.
Over a six-game span with two doubleheaders, the Penguins are 5-1 after defeating Niagara University and splitting against Robert Morris University.
During the opener against Niagara inside the YSU Softball Complex, junior Devan Ryan struck out two batters through six innings pitched, which earned her seventh win of the season, 2-1.
The Penguins got out to an early, 1-0 lead after junior Sara Fessler was hit by a pitch. She went on to steal second base, advanced to third and scored after a series of uncommon events.
In the bottom of the fourth, senior Conchetta Rinaldi led off the inning with a single out to left field. This allowed freshman Ashlyn Bishop a position to advance to second base on a bunt.
The Youngstown State score came off of an infield single by sophomore Bree Kholer, which helped Bishop advance and score.
In a game saving moment for the Penguins, junior Sophie Howell earned her first save of the season after walking two batters in the seventh inning.
In the nightcap, the Penguins stifled the Purple Eagles, 4-2. It was a team effort as four different runners scored.
For the Penguins’ scoring efforts, junior Elyssa Imler hammered home a two-run homer, while senior Megan Turner secured a two-run double for Youngstown State.
The duo of Kohler and Howell proved to be too much for Niagara. Kohler recorded her third win of the season as a pitcher and Howell earned her second save in a row.
The team stayed inside the Covelli Sports Complex, against Robert Morris for a doubleheader, April 11.
In the series opener, Youngstown State got off to a slow start against the Colonials. In the bottom of the seventh inning, junior Elyssa Imler tied the game with a two-out, two run double to right center field.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Rinaldi led the Penguins to victory with a single down the right-field to allow Fessler to secure the final score, 6-5.
In the night cap, the Colonials bested the Penguins 11–3. After a triple play at the top of the first inning, Fessler was able to get the team on the board early in the bottom of the inning.
Although the team had a stellar first game, six errors were made in the nightcap and for Fessler, the defense had to clean up heading into the next game.
“We had two pitchers against us in the first game and others in the second game,” Fessler said. “Defensively, we have to clean it up and hit the gaps and we will be better.”
In response to the loss, head coach Brian Campbell knew that the mistakes were crucial and it’s about coming back in the next few games.
“We made some mistakes that we will clean up and work because that’s not who we are defensively,” Campbell said. “You can see it in the stats that we had one of those nights.”
The team also took on Robert Morris in a separate game to round out its long stint at home, April 12.
In a hard-fought matchup, the women walked away with a 3-2 victory to claim the series.
The Penguins are now 19-17 overall and 7-3 in conference play.
With the team hitting the road after a 10 game homestand and heading into more league play the games start to matter more down the stretch.
“Every conference game is so crucial and you can’t take anybody lightly no matter what the record,” Rinaldi said. “Just coming out and doing our thing and getting back to the YSU Softball field.”
The team is back in action on the road for the first time since March 27, against Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, April 14 and 15.
To watch the game visit ESPN+ and to view live stats check out ysusports.com.