By Joe Scalzo
Senior pitcher Casey Crozier believes Youngstown State’s 10-2 victory over Virginia on Feb. 9 proved one thing about this year’s Penguin softball team.
It won’t be intimidated.
“We did not think, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re an ACC [Atlantic Coast Conference] team, they’re going to kick our butts,’” she said. “There was a lot of fire in a lot of the girls’ eyes.
“Beating them meant a lot for the program and it kind of shows we’re out there to beat anyone that comes in our way.”
The Penguins (2-2) begin a four-game road swing today in Nashville against Tennessee State in the Tiger Classic. They’ll play Indiana State and Dayton on Saturday before finishing up against Western Michigan on Sunday morning.
Crozier (1-1, 4.90 ERA) and junior pitcher Kayla Haslett (1-0, 1.56 ERA) give the Penguins a potent one-two punch on the mound, with Crozier closing in on two school records: career strikeouts (she has 378, nine away from Kim Givens’ record) and career victories (she has 42, four away from Givens’ mark).
“Casey has done a tremendous job in her 31/2 years here,” YSU coach Brian Campbell said. “She’s setting a lot of records, but just her leadership that she brings to the table and her drive to win and compete is always something that she has had.”
Offensively, Haley Knight is off to a hot start, batting .500 with five RBIs and three runs. She’s one of six seniors on the roster to go with 11 underclassmen. In fact, Haslett is the only junior.
“Our upperclassmen have done a great job of teaching the younger ones the game,” Campbell said.
YSU’s first 18 games are on the road and the Penguins won’t play a home game until March 16, when they’re expected to open the new softball field across from Stambaugh Stadium.
“I think I speak for all of my teammates when I say we are so excited to finally get that field on campus and play on our own green grass,” said Crozier, whose team previously played at Canfield’s McCune Park. “There’s a few of us that still go walk through the dugout and get that feel. I think it looks beautiful and I’m very excited at how it turned out.
“I can’t wait to see our classmates and our family members be able to come on our campus and watch us play.”