By Robert Hayes
The Horizon League regular season is winding down, and now more than ever it’s critical that the Youngstown State University softball team locks in during the final stretch of the season.
It’s been an up-and-down season for the Penguins, who started off with a dismal 4-17 record, before going on a record setting 11 game record. They also accumulated a 9-2 start in conference play, but a recent three-game skid in league play leaves YSU with an overall mark of 21-23, 9-5 in the conference.
Their most recent defeat was in a record-breaking 16-inning affair with Northern Kentucky University by a final score of 5-4.
The game didn’t just set the mark for the longest game by inning in YSU history, but also saw freshman phenom Addy Jarvis break her own single game strikeout record with 16 strikeouts.
Jarvis also set a record for single season freshman strikeouts with 183.
YSU squandered a few opportunities to claim victory, as poor hitting has been a theme throughout YSU’s season up to this point.
At the time of publishing, the Penguins are only hitting .235 as a team, as Lexi Zappitelli is the only Penguin to be above the .300 mark for batting average.
Liz Birkbeck recently missed twelve games due to a foot injury, and YSU needs their power hitter to return to form quickly if they want to make a run at the first seed in the league.
Things won’t get easier looking forward, as the first place University of Illinois-Chicago roll into town this weekend as the elite team in the Horizon League. UIC has a 14-3 conference record, which means that YSU will undoubtedly need to fan the Flames this weekend if they want to keep their hopes alive of hosting the conference tournament.
The Penguins will then make the long haul up to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay to take on the Phoenix for a final three-game series before the conference tournament, which takes place on May 8 through 11.
*Note: YSU played a doubleheader against NKU on Wednesday afternoon, which was omitted due to the publishing deadline*