Flashing a wide smile and walking with enthusiasm at Monday’s press conference, Youngstown State University softball player Sarah Gabel was noticeably upbeat.
She has good reason to be.
For one, Gabel and the Penguins begin their 2013 season on Saturday. Even better, YSU will travel to Charlotte, N.C., to do so.
“It’s exciting, especially with this nice weather,” Gabel said in reference to the 47 degree weather in Youngstown on Monday afternoon. “It makes me want to go out and play. I’m ready to start.”
She’ll need to be. The Penguins have a busy beginning to their season, as they’ll compete in the University of North Carolina Charlotte Tournament over the weekend.
YSU will take on the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Saturday at 10 a.m., then face Drexel University at 3 p.m.
The Penguins will play another doubleheader on Sunday before returning home. They’ll open the day by competing against UNC Charlotte at 1 p.m., then close out the tournament against West Point at 3 p.m.
“It’s nice to go away for the weekend and go to nice weather,” Gabel said. “It’s really relaxing, and I don’t think we put too much pressure on ourselves. It’s nice to go have fun and play.”
Gabel added that the most important thing for YSU is to find its “groove” and “get live at-bats.”
Head softball coach Brian Campbell agreed. Like Gabel, Campbell said he’s ready for the Penguins to go south and try to build off their 29-21-1 record in 2012.
“We worked really hard in terms of defense and with the pitchers,” Campbell said. “And again, we spent some time, but you don’t really get the true live hitting until you start the game. … The young ladies are really working hard for us.”