Refurbished softball complex opens with split


By Brian Dzenis

bdzenis@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

After months of waiting, Youngstown State’s softball team tested out its new field.

Saturday’s doubleheader against Indiana University-Purdue University marked the first games on the team’s upgraded field. Among the offseason upgrades, the YSU Softball Complex was given a turf field and new bullpens.

The Penguins dropped the first game, 2-1, but mercy-ruled the Jaguars 8-0 in the second game.

The field, which was covered in snow on Wednesday, passed with flying colors.

“It plays like a regular surface, which is nice for our outfielders,” Penguins coach Brian Campbell said. “That’s what we found when we were practicing in the fall, it plays like a true grass surface. It looks awesome.”

The Penguins (9-13, 1-1 in the Horizon League) returned to Youngstown on a three-game winning streak and have won five games out of seven following an eight-game losing streak.

“Now that we got that first win after all the losses we’ve had, we’ve come together as a team,” outfielder Lexi Zappitelli said. “We’re having more fun while playing and we’re just having a better time.”

Zappitelli was the Penguins’ top hitter throughout the doubleheader. In the first game, she was three for four with a solo home run and then followed up with an two-for-two performance with another home run. She’s batting .516 in 17 games — including 11 starts.

“She’s just going up there and picking her pitches and driving it,” Campbell said. “She’s been doing it for the last few weeks.”

Zappitelli has stepped in for Cali Mikovich, who’s been limited by injury since the beginning of the season.

The Austintown Fitch graduate is considered to be among the program’s all-time best players — ranking in the top 10 across several statistical categories.

The senior appeared in 13 games this year, batting .143 with an RBI and two stolen bases. On Saturday, she had two pinch-hit appearances, reaching base on a fielder’s choice in game two and scoring a run.

Campbell declined to discuss Mikovich.

Zappitelli, a junior from Conneaut, homered in her first at-bat of game two and the Penguins rolled from there.

Alexis Roach and Maddi Lusk each added an RBI-double. South Range graduate Stevie Taylor hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth to score Zappitelli and chase IUPUI’s Dezirae Leonard.

Leonard gave up five runs on eight hits in 3.1 innings to take the loss. Lusk gave up three hits and a walk while shutting out the Jaguars in five innings.

In the deciding fifth inning, Zappitelli scored from Mikovich’s fielder’s choice. Lusk, who walked earlier in the inning, came home on a wild pitch. Kelly Thompson-Cappadocio singled home Mikovich to invoke the mercy rule.

In the first game, he Jaguars got seven hits off starter Paige Geanangel, but none of those caused the winning points. A suicide squeeze scored Maddie Keeley in the third inning and Kristen London came home on a passed ball in the fourth.

Zappitelli hit her first home run in the sixth, but it wasn’t enough. IUPUI starter Megan Overton gave up eight hits and two walks while striking out 10.

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