Next: YSU at Niagara, Wednesday, 3 p.m.
By Pete Mollica
Penguins are suppose to thrive in cold weather, but evidently not the Youngstown State softball version.
Sunday afternoon, the Penguins (15-9, 0-3 Horizon League) suffered through a 6-2 loss that allowed Loyola to complete a three-game sweep at McCune Park.
The Penguins, who were playing their first home series of the season, struggled at the plate, in the field and on the mound for the third straight game.
Head coach Brian Campbell, although disappointed, still feels confident his team will rebound.
“We had our opportunities today as we loaded the bases twice, but just couldn’t come up with that clutch hit when we needed it,” Campbell said.
The Penguins managed five hits off Loyola pitcher Seana Stillson (2-3). but three of those game in the fifth inning when YSU scored both of its runs.
Once again, errors played a key role in the defeat and the Penguins made two that led to four unearned runs by the Ramblers (11-9, 3-0).
“The errors hurt and you never want to see them happen, but they are part of the game,” Campbell said. “You don’t want to blame the weather, but it was definitely big factor in the game, especially with the pitchers.”
YSU freshman hurler Casey Crozier went the distance against the Ramblers and allowed eight hits and four walks, but still only allowed two earned runs.
“Casey did what ever she could to stay warm and loose between innings, but it was almost impossible in these conditions,” Campbell said. “She threw a lot of pitches , but so did the other [pitcher], but we just couldn’t come up with the hits when we needed them.”
The crucial error came in the third inning when shortstop Kristen Philen booted a ground ball which could have been the second out of the inning. After Crozier got Lauren Moore to fly out, Crozier walked Jacqueline Grim. With two runners on, Crozier then gave up a three-run homer to Lauren Arceneaux for a 4-0 lead.
Crozier pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth, but gave up single runs in the sixth and seventh, the final one the result of the Penguins’ second error.
The Penguins had trouble getting to Stillson. Senior Kristina Rendle led off the game with a single to center, but the Penguins didn’t get another hit until the fifth inning.
They loaded the bases in the fourth without getting a hit as Stillson walked two and the Ramblers committed their lone error. However, Stillson retired the next two batters.
In the fifth, the Penguins opened the inning with three straight singles, two by pinch hitters Sara Cabel and Amanda Palmore.
Rendle followed with her second hit, an infield single to load the sacks.
Junior Jordan Ingalls then walked to force in one run and with two outs Haley Thomas singled home another before Stillson got out of the jam.
Stillson retired the Penguins in order in both the sixth and seventh innings.
YSU will next be in action on Wednesday afternoon at Niagara and then return home on Thursday to meet Dayton. Both are doubleheaders.
They resume Horizon League play on Saturday when they travel to Wright State for a three-game weekend series.