Brian Campbell is no stranger to difficult managerial decisions.
But first, the YSU softball coach had a chance to celebrate his 400th win with a 5-3 victory over Dayton at YSU Softball Field Monday afternoon.
Maria Lacatena’s base hit in the bottom of the fifth scored two Penguins after their lead had been trimmed to 3-2.
The two insurance runs were enough for Campbell to breath easier in his benchmark victory.
“First and foremost, it’s a tribute to the young kids and coaches,” said Campbell, who earned 285 of his wins at Tiffin University. “I’m proud of all those young ladies.”
Hours later, his managing was tested as he was staring at a potential doubleheader sweep of the Atlantic 10 opponent.
All his junior pitcher, Kayla Haslett, had to do was close out a dominating performance with three seventh-inning outs.
Dayton cut into YSU’s 3-0 lead on Haslett’s first pitch of the inning when Jordan Jennings smacked a home run to dead center field. It was just the Flyers’ fifth hit off Haslett, but their dugout suddenly had life.
“I thought that was just a great way to start it,” Dayton coach Cara LaPlaca said. “You can’t always look for that, you can’t always expect that, but it turned out to ignite something big for us.”
The spark continued as three more batters reached base around two Haslett strikeouts. Then her strong start began to combust.
A bases-loaded walk to the Flyers’ cleanup hitter, Tiffany Ricks, brought a second run home with more trouble up next. Campbell went out to the mound to talk to his pitcher, but kept her in the game to face Alysha Isaacson — who leads the Flyers with a .416 average.
“I think you go back and forth,” Campbell said. “[Haslett]’s always been a pitcher who’s gotten herself out of situations.
“You were just waiting for the ground ball and the out to end it at any time.”
Campbell and Haslett got the ground ball they were looking for, but it was smoked into the hard infield dirt and bounced over the leaping pitcher. Haslett was able to get a piece of it, which gave shortstop Katie Smallcomb a chance for a play at second. But Ricks slid in safely, allowing two runners to score while blowing up YSU’s lead.
The Flyers added an insurance run with an RBI single before Campbell made his second trip to the mound, this time to get his pitcher.
By then the damage was done. The Penguins were retired quickly in the bottom of the inning and would have to settle for a split with Dayton.
“She’s a young lady that’ll come back tomorrow, work hard in practice, and come back Thursday and go out there and throw,” Campbell said. “I think that’s just the way she is.
“Softball’s a game about short memory and getting to the next one.”
Haslett’s final line was 62/3 innings, nine hits, five runs — all earned — three walks and six strikeouts.
The Penguins built the three-run lead thanks to two Flyers fielding errors in the bottom half of the sixth. Haslett reached on a base hit to start the inning and advanced to second when pitcher Lindsey Diggs threw the ball to the backstop.
Haslett scored when center fielder Cynthia Leaton overthrew her cutoff. YSU added two more runs on a Haley Knight sacrifice fly and a second wild pitch from Diggs.