If the Youngstown State softball team wants to win its first Horizon League tournament title since 2006, it will have to do so from the elimination bracket.
The Penguins split their first two tournament games on Wednesday, defeating Cleveland State 3-2 in the opener on Sarah Dowd’s walkoff single, then falling to top-seeded Green Bay 5-2 in the second game at Wright State.
YSU (30-23) will face UIC in today’s elimination game at 1:30 p.m.
Green Bay’s Ashley Nanneman allowed just two hits against YSU and scored four runs in the fourth to take a 4-0 lead. Senior Samantha Snodgrass led off the top of the fifth with a solo home run to get the Penguins on the board and Katie Smallcomb’s RBI ground out in the top of the sixth cut the lead in half, 4-2. Smallcomb had the Penguins’ only other hit.
Green Bay tacked on a run in the bottom half of the sixth.
In the opener, Dowd’s bases-loaded single to center field in the bottom of seventh inning lifted the Penguins, who reached the 30-win mark for the second time in school history.
The last time was in 2003 when the Penguins won 36.
Trailing 2-1, Snodgrass, who had two singles, led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to left field. Freshman Darcella Blakey, who went 2-for-3, singled to left-center and pinch-hitter Kayla Haslett walked to load the bases.
Dowd, who was down in the count 1-2, bounced a single up the middle scoring pinch-runner Alexa Schmidt with the tying run and Blakey with the game winner.
Horizon League pitcher of the year Casey Crozier struck out seven and allowed just four hits to pick up her 19th win of the season.
Cleveland State (24-19) got on the board in the top of the first when Erica McNew doubled to center field.
The Penguins knotted the game in the bottom of the second inning on an infield single by Blakey and a CSU throwing error that scored Smallcomb.
The YSU-UIC winner will play the winner of Wright State and Cleveland State today at 4 p.m. The Penguins would need to win five straight games to capture the title.