By Rick Henneman
The Youngstown State University softball team (18-24, 6-7 in Horizon League) entered Tuesday’s mid-season matchup against Wright State University (14-22, 9-4 HL) after a tough week at Northern Kentucky. The Penguins won just one of the three games in the series against the Norse but looked to get back on track against the second-ranked Raiders.
The Penguins were able to do just that and swept WSU in the doubleheader with a combined score of 15-4.
Pitcher Maddi Lusk started game one of the doubleheader in the circle for YSU with junior Ashley Sharp pitching for the Raiders.
The Penguins got on base early in the first inning as Sharp walked two batters. A single to left from right fielder Sarah Dowd loaded the bases for YSU but Sharp struck out Lusk to end the inning.
WSU got on the board first in the second inning with a single to left field from junior Kelly Dillow that drove in one run. The bases were loaded for the Raiders but an impressive sequence from Lusk ended the inning.
The Penguins tied the game up during the bottom of the second off an error but got out in front in the third. Lusk gave herself some run support with a three-run homer to left that put YSU up 4-1.
YSU would hold on to win game one 4-1.
Luck pitched seven innings with one earned run along with her three-run homerun. Dowd finished game one 2-3 at the plate with one run scored. Sharp pitched two innings for WSU with three earned runs.
“She keeps the ball relatively low which is good for the infield,” YSU senior Brittney Moffatt said about Lusk’s performance. “We get a lot of action when Maddi is pitching. Usually we know what pitches are going to be called and nine times out of ten I know where the ball is going before it is even hit.”
Lusk returned to the circle for game two of the doubleheader. Ally Russell started for WSU.
The first inning was all about offense for both teams as the Raiders scored two runs. The Penguins bested WSU in the first with five runs in response including RBI singles from Lusk and Moffatt.
Lusk found success at the plate again in the second inning with a single to left field that drove in senior Maria Lacatena. The Penguins’ bat magic stayed with them in the third inning as Moffatt and junior Cali Mikovich both hit RBI singles.
YSU led WSU 8-2 at the end of the fourth inning.
The Raiders began a comeback in the fifth inning after a sacrifice fly to right field from Becka Peterson scored one run.
However, with no outs in the bottom of the sixth, freshman Tatum Christy hit a three-run bomb to left field that ended the game 11-3.
“I felt like I was in the zone all day,” Christy said about her walk-off. “I was seeing the ball well but stuff wasn’t dropping early. I was trying to get a base hit really. I had no idea that it was a walk-off when I hit it but it was a good feeling.”
Lusk pitched six innings with three earned runs along with two RBIs at the plate. Her back-to-back wins improved her record to 12-12 on the season. Moffatt was 2-3 with two RBIs.
“They [YSU] came out swinging the bats today and put some runs on the board,” YSU head coach Brian Campbell said about the Penguins’ performance. “We made a couple miscues but overcame it offensively. Maddi pitched tremendously and I am truly proud of the hitters.”
In the third game of the series, YSU scored early and often. YSU led WSU 4-1 after the second inning behind Moffatt and Lacatena RBI singles. Paige Geanangel threw six innings while giving up seven hits, four earned runs and recorded just one strikeout. Lusk pitched one scoreless inning in the seventh to record her first save of the season. YSU won 7-4 behind Moffatt’s four RBI day and an Alex Gibson home run. It was her third home run of the year.
YSU now goes on the road to take on the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with a doubleheader on April 22 and a single game on April 23.