By Marc Weems
The Youngstown State University softball team has been picked to finish second in the Horizon League in a preseason poll of the league’s head coaches, according to a Horizon League press release on Wednesday.
The University of Illinois-Chicago, the 2017 regular season and tournament champion, was picked to win the league with 81 total points followed by the Penguins with 71. Wright State University and the University of Detroit Mercy were picked third and fourth with 59 and 54 points, respectively.
Oakland University came in fifth with 41 points, while Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Northern Kentucky University ranked sixth and seventh with 35 and 31 points, respectively.
Rounding out the preseason standings were the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in eighth with 19 points and Cleveland State University in ninth with 14 points.
The Penguins finished last season with an overall record of 31-28 and finished second in the Horizon League with a school-best 17-7 mark. Fourteen Youngstown State letter winners and seven starters from last year’s squad returned.
YSU also returns six seniors from last year.
Leading the Penguins in 2018 are a pair of All-Horizon League outfielders in seniors Hannah Lucas and Cali Mikovich.
Lucas earned First-Team All-Horizon League honors after leading the team with a .339 overall batting average and a .416 average in league play. Lucas had 18 multi-hit games. She also finished the year with 20 stolen bases and scored 41 runs.
Mikovich, a two-time all-league performer, ranks in the top 10 in seven different career statistical categories and was named second-team all-league and all-tournament team last season.
Infielder/Pitcher Maddi Lusk returns after being the 2017 Co-Freshman of the Year. Lusk finished with 17 wins last season with a 2.75 ERA. Pitcher Paige Geanangel lead the Penguins’ pitching staff as she had four complete games. She had 17 wins as a freshman in 2016.
Senior four-year starter Stevie Taylor also returns for the Penguins after starting in all 58 games as the ultimate utility player. She scored 17 runs and drove in 16 runs.
Head Coach Brian Campbell needs 14 victories to earn the 500th of his career and just seven more wins to become YSU all-time winningest coach.
Youngstown State opens the 2018 season against Hampton on Feb. 9 at 10 a.m. at the Gardner-Webb Tournament in Boiling Springs, N.C.
2018 Horizon League Preseason Coaches Poll
- UIC, (9 first-place votes), 81 points
- Youngstown State, 71
- Wright State, 59
- Detroit Mercy, 54
- Oakland, 41
- IUPUI, 35
- Northern Kentucky, 31
- Green Bay, 19
- Cleveland State, 14