By Pete Mollica
The women’s basketball team has been hurt by injuries so far this fall.
YOUNGSTOWN — For Youngstown State women’s basketball coach Cindy Martin, making substitutions this season won’t be that difficult.
Martin, who begins her second season with the Penguins, has only eight healthy players on her roster going into Friday night’s season opener at Elon, N.C.
Martin opened practice this year with a short roster of 12 players and has since lost three players with injuries.
Two of them may be out for the season and a fourth player is sitting out this year to meet academic requirements.
Seven players are new to YSU and only two are seniors.
The Penguins went 3-27 last year — Martin’s first.
Even with the injuries, Martin is excited about the season starting.
“We’re going to have to get the job done with these eight ladies,” Martin said.
The Penguins have already lost freshman Melissa Thompson, a 5-8 guard from Solon, for the season with a torn ACL, while junior transfer Shea Johnson, a 5-8 guard from Palatka, Fla., and Midland College, will probable miss the season with a back injury.
Senior Kaitlyn March, one of the two seniors and a co-captain on the team, is nursing an ankle injury and Martin hopes she will be back in time for the Horizon League season. Junior transfer Tiera Jones, a Youngstown native from Rayen High and Foothill College, will sit out for academic reasons.
Of the five returning players, three will be in the starting lineup on Friday. They include 6-3 senior co-captain Rachael Manuel, 5-3 sophomore Macey Nortey and 5-8 sophomore Kenya Middlebrooks.
The other two starters are 5-7 junior transfer Bojana Dimitrov from Paracin, Serbia and 5-11 freshman Brandi Brown from Pomona, Calif.
“It’s been difficult to hold practice with only eight players and we’ve had to use coaches on the floor most of the time,” Martin said. “But the ladies have been working very hard and are ready for the challenge.”
The Penguins take on High Point, N.C. on Saturday, also at 7 p.m. Their home opener is next Wednesday against Kent State as part of a doubleheader. They will play the opening game at 5:15 p.m. and the YSU men’s team will play Kent State men in the second game at 7:35.
Martin also announced three player signings for next season including a standout local player.
Boardman High’s Monica Touvelle, a 5-8 guard has signed to play with the Penguins. Also signing letters of intent are guard Jill Herman, a 5-11 standout from Powell, Tenn., and forward Heidi Schlegel, a 6-0 post player from Wapakoneta.