By Dan Hiner
The Youngstown State University softball team began its season competing in the Campbell Tournament in Buies Creek, North Carolina. The Penguins split the four game series.
“I think coming out of the tournament, it was a learning process with the 13 underclassmen that we have,” head coach Brian Campbell said. “A lot of freshman got an opportunity to play. Ashley, our freshman pitcher, got the win in the first game. Played really good defense, four errors for the weekend out of 28 innings, that’s pretty good. Coming out of it with the experience, getting these younger kids experience I think it was very beneficial for them.”
The Penguins won the first game of the tournament against the University of Maryland Eastern Shore 10-7. The offense started the season on a high note — recording eight hits and seven walks. Third baseman Miranda Castiglione went 2-3, driving in three RBI’s.
YSU lost the second game of the season to St. John’s University 4-2. The Penguins’ offense struggled, stringing together only four hits throughout the game. Starting pitcher Kayla Haslett threw a complete game, allowing four runs, seven hits and struck out five batters.
“Kayla did a tremendous job. St. John’s, a big east school, we lost to them 4-2,” Campbell said. “She kept them in check the whole time there. We left some base runners on base in that St. John’s game, and that’s one thing that we’ve been working really hard since that tournament — is moving runners and producing quality at bats.”
During the third game of the tournament the Penguins won a 5-1 game against East Tennessee State University. In Haslett’s second start of the season, she pitched another complete game, allowing one run on nine hits and two walks. Right fielder Cali Mikovich got the Penguins out to an early lead with a two-run homerun to centerfield. Mikovich finished 1-3 with two RBI’s and one walk.
“Kayla did a great job against Eastern Tennessee,” Campbell said. “She pitched a really good game there and she also came into the first game and shut them down for the two innings. Overall, I think she did a tremendous job.”
In the Penguins’ final game of the tournament, YSU lost to Towson University 9-2. YSU had trouble driving in runs against the Tigers. The Penguins recorded four hits and seven walks but left nine runners on base. Starting pitcher Caitlyn Minney was only able to throw 1.2 innings — giving up seven hits and seven runs — before leaving the game in the second inning. Ashley Koziol came in to relieve Minney and threw 5.1 innings, allowing seven hits and two runs.
“I think that Towson is a really tough opponent, they always are,” Castiglione said. “We came out fighting. They had a lot of hits on the board. Next time we will have to score more runs — that will be a key in all are games this season.”
The team played well despite playing so many freshman and young players. Most of them played in the fourth game of the season, and Campbell views it as a good learning opportunity.
“We were .377 on base percentage,” Campbell said. “Coming down to it, they scored two and we answered right away. I think when we get into it, it being the forth game of the weekend; we did play some of the younger kids. It’s a learning experience for them. When they come in being young, you have to teach them to be consistent going through the weekend. Overall, for us being 2-2 and seeing a lot of bright spots — pitching and hitting — there were a lot of freshmen who were up there in batting average. Coming away from the first weekend it helps us come back and make some adjustments before we go back out again.”