By Jon Moffett
Softball always has been called a game of inches.
And a few inches in Sunday’s game between Green Bay and Youngstown State made all the difference from it being an uplifting close to the 2011 season to Penguin Demolition Night at McCune Park.
A critical call triggered a huge inning for the visitors and spelled the end for YSU in an 11-5 loss in the team’s final game.
With a runner on base and trailing the Penguins 3-0, Green Bay second-baseman, Haley Andrews, knocked a slow roller down the third-base line. Penguins third-baseman, Samantha Snodgrass, charged the ball but pulled her glove away in time to watch it roll into foul territory about a foot in front of the base.
Or so she thought.
The home-plate umpire ruled Snodgrass touched the ball with her glove, thus making it a fair ball and in play. Andrews reached first base safely, and the Phoenix (24-22, 10-13 Horizon League) had two on with no outs.
That’s when the wheels fell off for the Penguins (22-24, 5-16), as the home team surrendered 11 runs in the inning.
YSU head coach Brian Campbell said although one play does not make a game, the call — right or wrong — had a mental effect on his team.
“From our angle, it looked like [Snodgrass] pulled her glove back and didn’t touch it,” he said. “The umpire didn’t see it because he was obstructed by the batter, and he didn’t really have a call. But it’s a judgment call. He made the call that he thought was the right call, and that’s what it is.”
Green Bay scored four runs — including two on a home run by first baseman Alli Rivera — to go ahead by one before the Penguins recorded the second out.
Starting pitcher Hana Somogyi couldn’t get the final out of the inning, giving up another four runs before being replaced by Casey Crozier. Crozier allowed three runs, but none were earned.
Somogyi (9-11) was credited with just three earned runs, as the Penguin defense committed four errors on the day.
“I think we just made a couple of mistakes for them to open up the door for the inning to continue,” Campbell said of the forgettable fifth. “That’s one of those things where sometimes when you open a door, teams sometimes take advantage of it. And they took advantage of it.”
Green Bay won twice on Saturday for a series sweep.
Campbell said his message to his team was simple during the middle of the inning: Finish strong for the seniors.
The Penguins scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to avoid the NCAA-sanctioned stoppage (if a team trails by eight runs after five innings, the game is called). Though disappointed with the end result, Campbell was happy his team fought to keep the game going.
“They wanted to play hard for these last three innings, and that sometimes puts some added pressure on athletes,” he said. “But they kept fighting. They finished strong and let their teammates play seven. We got a few runs to at least let these seniors get seven innings.”