By Brian Yauger
While fall is mainly the time for football, it is also the time for Youngstown State University’s softball program to prepare for the upcoming season.
“It was a short summer,” Penguins coach Brian Campbell said. “It just made it a lot easier when we came back because a lot of these young ladies have played during the summer. It’s exciting to come back and be able to get out on the field right away and be able to put everything together.”
The players are also excited to get back on the field.
“We’re super excited here for fall ball,” senior infielder Maddi Lusk said. “We have a lot of new approaches and we’re just excited to get back into the swing of things and just put it all together.”
Junior outfielder Yazmine Romero is not only excited to play, but she’s also ready to embrace a leadership role as an upperclassman.
“I’m the oldest one in the outfield now, so I’m excited to have a chance to be a leader,” she said.
While no actual wins or losses come from these games, it’s a good way to incorporate new strategies for the regular spring season.
“We’re able to get some live reps, see some live pitching, get to try people out in new positions and just get a feel for everything,” Lusk said.
Romero is excited to play a few games with a laid back approach as opposed to the constant grind of the regular season.
“It makes a huge difference,” Romero said. “Instead of just jumping into spring, jumping into the season, it’s only home games. It’s okay; the games don’t technically matter. You’re just working on getting better and having fun.”
Lusk said the team is also able to see how the freshmen play.
From a coaching perspective, a laid-back slate of games is needed to help introduce the freshmen to the college level.
“At the end of the day, it’s about experience in college, and we have seven freshmen on this team,” Campbell said. “When you get into college as a freshman, the speed of the game is a lot quicker.”
According to Campbell, the women are hitting the ball harder and pitching is a lot different.
“There’s some adjustment periods that they have to go through, and I think this really helps them,” Campbell said.
YSU is a young team and is coming off a 25-29 season.
With the emergence of pitcher Addy Jarvis and outfielder Grace Cea as freshmen and a program-record 11 consecutive wins, the Penguins have a lot to build on. Mixing in the freshmen players is the first step to achieving their goals.
“I think that’s what’s exciting because you have a mixture this year,” Campbell said. “I understand from last year, we were young. Those younger ones do have some experience now, and I think just mixing in the freshmen with this group is is exciting.”
The Penguins start their slate of games on Friday, Sept. 13, when they take on Cuyahoga Community College at 4 p.m. and Slippery Rock University at 8 p.m.