By Marc Weems
The fall season makes people think of football, volleyball and soccer for the most part, but never softball. For the Youngstown State University softball team, it’s their time as well. Well, the softball team has important games in the month of September.
“It is just an opportunity to have the young ladies play together,” YSU Head Coach Brian Campbell said. “Girls graduate and you want to take advantage of the eight games you have and see how we work together. It is important to play them [younger players] and put everything together.”
With just three seniors on the team, the Penguins use these eight fall games to get the younger players acclimated to college softball for the first time.
“I remember coming in my freshmen year and I was really nervous,” YSU Pitcher Paige Geanangel said. “As a senior, you kind of get to lay back and watch the freshman class. Just make sure they are getting their feet wet with everything.”
YSU boasts five sophomores and seven freshmen on a roster that has 20 players. Six of the seven freshmen are from Ohio while the other is from Pennsylvania.
“I don’t know if it has as much as to do with what we will see in these games,” Campbell said. “It’s more of being able to play quality schools from the area. Players will be first to say it, when you have other schools from a lower division, you get a chance to play teams that are playing harder than normal.”
Campbell said that because they play mostly Division II schools, the Penguins get the best out of those schools.
“We love playing in the fall against DI and DII Schools. They always have a little pep in their step,” he said.
The Penguins will play six of the eight games at home. YSU will only play one team, Robert Morris University, during the spring season.
“We play three of four dates at home. When you have these games, you have fall games for a reason,” Campbell said. “In the past, we have played the teams we play in the regular season. We changed that up. We play Akron and Robert Morris. We wanted some different teams and had a lot of interest.”
For the Penguins, it’s more important to play well together than it is to win games.
“When you come in as a freshman, you are really thrown into things,” Geanangel said about how quickly things change. “You’re in a new place with new people. All the sudden, you’re a senior and some of those people are your best friends. A lot of your favorite memories are with those people.”
Geanangel also said that it’s important to fill in for the seniors.
“Especially Lexi Roach. She took care of all of us so it’s hard to fill her shoes for sure. We are trying and I think we are doing a good job,” she said.
For Campbell, the smallest things matter the most in the fall.
“At the end of it, it is important to go out and learn stuff and see outside competition,” he said. “We want to get into situations and see them in those. You can practice all day but you get to see what actually works and see areas you need to focus on.”
Campbell said they have a lot of different philosophies. “It is about bonding and getting used to each other. We want to see the range each player has in the field. They need to do their jobs and keep doing the small things right,” he said.
YSU’s fall slate begins with a home doubleheader against the University of Akron at 4 p.m. and Slippery Rock University at 8 p.m.