Youngstown State wins first two home games in doubleheader against Purdue Fort Wayne

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Youngstown State senior Hailey Roach celebrates after hitting a two-run home run during the second game of the Penguins’ matchup with Purdue Fort Wayne on Tuesday afternoon.

YOUNGSTOWN — For college teams that spend the first portion of their season on the road, being back on their home field is a breath of fresh air.

With only three main starters returning from last season’s lineup, Tuesday evening was the first opportunity for a new-look YSU team to defend its home turf.

Sweeping Purdue Fort Wayne (5-18, 0-2) by finals of 4-3 and 7-2, the Penguins (9-13, 2-0) found their footing after struggling early against the Mastodons.

A Megan Turner two-run shot during the bottom of the fifth in game one provided the spark, but YSU’s success came from facing tough competition during the opening weeks of the campaign.

The Penguins’ tour included contests against Memphis, Providence, and Lipscomb, among others.

“Those teams have always been really good programs, and you hope that translates when you come back. The pitching that we’ve seen, it really helped us today,” said YSU coach Brian Campbell. “It doesn’t take a lot of hits as long as you’re clutch in those certain ones, and I think that’s what we had in the first game.

“In the second game, we just kinda felt it and was kinda just able to put a few runs up over the first three innings, and as a coach, I want to see them finish. Less zeros on that last end and more crooked numbers toward the end, because tonight we didn’t score in the last few innings toward the end, and I think that’s something we need to continue to work on too.”

Tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh, senior catcher Conchetta Rinaldi looked to put the ball in play with the bases loaded and only one out. She found herself in a full count but had confidence in her team’s ability to score one of the base runners.

“Genuinely, I was just looking for a fly ball,” said Rinaldi. “I was looking to get the ball into the outfield to score because whoever was on third, I knew they were fast, and I knew Coach Campbell was in it, so I was just ready for a flyball.”

Without much jubilation, the Penguins had to regain focus for the nightcap of their doubleheader after falling behind early 2-0. That was until YSU replied with seven consecutive runs over the first three innings, including a two-run shot to left field by Hailey Roach during the bottom of the third inning.

Junior Sophie Howell went the distance during the nightcap, allowing only one earned run over four hits, with three strikeouts.

Taking some of the energy and confidence from the conclusion of game one into the second contest, became a key factor. Junior Sara Fessler, a transfer from Ursuline College, chalked up five hits between the two games.

“We told ourselves we needed better energy, we needed to be there for each other and just show up, pass the bats. That’s what we always say, so we passed the bat in the second game,” said Fessler. “Being away from friends and family, and playing on the road, takes a lot. It takes each other. When we’re there for each other and when we’re loud in the dugout it’s going to help us win every time.”

Junior Devan Ryan, a transfer from Indian River State College, started game one, allowing three runs and one earned run over five innings. Sophomore Bree Kohler closed the books, with only one Purdue Fort Wayne hit over the final two innings.

Niederkohr tallied a pair of RBIs during game two, with Jillian Jakse adding one after missing the entire 2022 season to injury.

YSU is back in action this afternoon for a non-conference doubleheader versus Morehead State.

“The most important thing to me is family, so looking back and having them in the stands is definitely a big factor for me,” said Rinaldi. “I would also say the crowd, we have great groups of parents and families that come support us, I even saw a couple other sports out here today, so it’s nice just to have the home atmosphere on this beautiful field.”


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