The Youngstown State softball team opens the 2015 season with four games this weekend at the Campbell/Hampton Inn Invitational, Feb. 6-7, in Buies Creek, N.C.
The Penguins take on Maryland-Eastern Shore at 9 a.m. and St. John's at 11 a.m. on Friday. On Saturday, Youngstown State faces East Tennessee State at 8:30 a.m. and Towson at 10:30 a.m.
After a week off, the Penguins travel back down to Tobacco Road for a four-game set at the Elon Tournament, Feb. 20-21. The Penguins square off against Maryland-Baltimore County in a double-header on Feb. 20 starting at Noon. On Saturday, the Penguins face Elon at Noon and LaSalle at 4:30 p.m.
About the Penguins
Youngstowns State is coming off one of the most successful campaigns in the program's history with a 30-24 record in 2014. The Penguins return 10 letterwinners and six starters from last year's squad, including Horizon League Co-Player of the Year junior Miranda Castiglione and Horizon League Freshman of the Year sophomore Sarah Dowd. The Penguins' lone senior is pitcher Kayla Haslett, who picked up nine victories and a save in 2014.
Penguins Picked Fourth in Preseason Poll
Coming off a 30-24 season and tied for third in the Horizon League in 2014, the Youngstown State softball team was predicted to finish fourth in the league in a poll conducted of the league's head coaches.
The Penguins earned 31 total points and recorded two first-place votes.
Wright State was picked to win the Horizon League with 40 points and one first-place vote. Defending league champion Green Bay was picked second with a league-best three first-place votes and 38 points.
Valparaiso garnered the third spot with 37 points and two first-place votes. Cleveland State was fifth (29 points), UIC was sixth (27), Oakland was picked seventh (15) and Detroit eighth (7).
Castiglione Has Banner Season
Last season, junior Miranda Castiglione did not suffer from the proverbial "sophomore slump." Castiglione was named the Horizon League Co-Player of the Year after posting a .395 batting average, which was second in the league, and leading the league with 70 hits. She also belted 10 home runs and set a YSU single-season record with 43 runs scored, which also led the Horizon League. Castiglione was also a NFCA All-Midwest Region Second-Team selection.
Hello, Ms. Dowd
Sophomore Sarah Dowd will be looking to improve upon her freshman season, which saw her earn the Horizon League Freshman-of-the-Year Award. Dowd batted .270 with seven home runs, six doubles, a triple, 29 RBIs and 29 runs scored last season.
Haslett A Dual Threat
Senior pitcher Kayla Haslett is coming off her best season to date. Last year, Haslett posted nine wins and picked up a save for the Penguins. She posted nine complete games and picked up the win over ACC foe Virginia . At the plate, Haslett batted .284 with three doubles, three home runs and 14 RBIs while scoring 16 times.