Young Penguins keep maturing on diamond
By CHUCK HOUSTEAU
Youngstown State University softball coach Brian Campbell has coached a lot of winning teams.
So when Campbell said that his YSU team’s 7-19 record this season is a bit deceiving there is no reason to doubt him.
Campbell has 285 wins in eight seasons as the coach of Tiffin University and 15 more in his first two seasons at YSU.
Campbell developed Tiffin from an NAIA program into a successful Division II program during his tenure as coach of the Dragons.
He’s trying to do the same thing, only at the Division I level with a young YSU team.
Campbell took over a 12-37 team from former coach Christy Cameron and went 8-42 last season with a lot of young players.
This year’s team is dotted with talented freshmen and sophomores who are still learning the college game.
There is only one senior, left fielder Autumn Grove, in the starting lineup.
“When you stand out here and look at our record, it really doesn’t tell the true story,” Campbell said. “The young ladies are working hard.
“They haven’t been making as many mistakes as they did early in the year and we are hitting nearly .300 as a team.
“We’ve made very big steps all around as players, especially defensively and in the areas we needed to fix,” Campbell said. “So you can’t be more proud as a coach at how much they’ve improved and listened to us and how hard they’ve worked to get themselves better.
“And standing out here as a head coach I can proudly say that they’ve made pretty good strides individually and as a team.”
Campbell said that sometimes he forgets how young his team really is.
Although the team has two senior pitchers, Cheryl Cale and Danielle Chase, the future might be in the hands of freshman Kayla Vallery and Hana Somogyi.
Junior first baseman Kim Klonowski is the team’s top hitter while sophomores, center fielder Haley Thomas, shortstop Kristen Philen and right fielder Jordan Ingalls are all batting over .330.
Sophomore Amanda Palmore is solid at catcher and freshman Vicki Rumph is batting nearly .300 with 35 RBIs while playing well at third.
Freshman Caroline Krombach has also been a solid contributor in the field and at the plate.
If the youth movement continues to improve and the upcoming recruiting class lives up to its billing, Campbell expects success on the near horizon.
The Penguins have already inked four solid players for next year including Ursuline High catcher Sara Ingalls.
Also heading to YSU are pitcher Casey Crozier (Valparaiso, Ind)., utility player Haley Knight (Garrettsville), and pitcher/shortstop Samantha Snodgrass (South Charleston, W.Va.).
This young Penguins squad is still hoping to make noise in the Horizon League.
Cale, the team’s best pitcher despite a 2-9 record, said her role as a leader is to keep the team together and not get frustrated.
“I want to stay positive and help these young freshmen and sophomores develop,” Cale said.
SEE ALSO: Campbell hits 300 with YSU victory.