Softball Visits No. 14 South Carolina Saturday

Lexi Zappitelli (Photo by Chris Kilroy)
Lexi Zappitelli (Photo by Chris Kilroy)

First Pitch
The Youngstown State softball team (0-4) returns to action when it visits No. 14 South Carolina, Saturday, Feb. 23. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham on Saturday with free admission to the public.  

The Penguins will also play Charlotte and Winthrop on Sunday, Feb. 24, in Charlotte. Youngstown State will face Charlotte at 10 a.m. and Winthrop at Noon.

Last Time Out
The Penguins opened the season with four losses at the Spartan Classic. The Penguins lost to East Carolina, 11-4, Towson, 8-0, Miami (Ohio), 6-0, and USC-Upstate, 2-1. 

About South Carolina
South Carolina is ranked No. 14 and enters the game with an 8-2 record. Three Gamecocks are batting over .400 led by Cayla Drotar's .462 batting average. Dixie Raley leads the Carolina pitching staff with a 4-0 record and 2.33 earned-run aveage. The Penguins and Gamecocks have met twice previously and South Carolina has won both meetings.

• Penguins Picked Second
The Youngstown State softball team has been predicted to finish second in the Horizon League after a vote of the league's head coaches, the league announced. UIC was picked to win the 2019 Horizon League regular-season championship with all nine first-place votes and 81 total points followed by the Penguins with 69 points.  Checking in at third place in the poll is last year's tournament runner-up Oakland (63 points). In fourth position in the poll is Wright State (44 points). Northern Kentucky (40 points) and IUPUI (39 points) were chosen fifth and sixth respectively in the poll. Rounding out the 2019 Preseason Poll are Detroit Mercy (36 points), Green Bay (22 points), and Cleveland State (11 points).
 
• Campbell Collected Coaching Milestones
Youngstown State Head Coach Brian Campbell picked up a pair of coaching milestones during the 2018 season. Last year, Campbell won the 500th game of his career on April 10, 2018, with a 2-1 win over Northern Kentucky. Campbell also became Youngstown State's all-time winningest coach when he earned his 208th win at YSU on March 10, 2018, with an 11-5 win over North Carolina A&T. Campbell owns a career mark of 511-414-2 in his 19th season and has 226 wins in his 11th year at Youngstown State.
 
• Zappitelli Had Breakout Season, Nabs First-Team All-Horizon League Honors
Senior Lexi Zappitelli posted a breakout season in 2018 and was named to the All-Horizion League First-Team. She batted .413 with 30 runs scored, 22 RBIs, 13 doubles, three triples and two home runs and was just the eighth player in school history to bat above .400. The Conneaut, Ohio, native ranked in the top 10 in seven different Horizon League statistical categories, ranked 36th nationally in batting average and finished with a .611 slugging percentage and a .490 on-base percentage.
 
• Trio Earned Second-Team All-League Laurels
Junior Maddi Lusk and sophomores Elle Buffenbarger and Yazmine Romero were all named to the All-Horizon League Second-Team. Lusk, a two-time all-league selection, batted .315 with 23 runs scored, 14 doubles, a triple, four home runs and a team-high 35 runs batted in. Both Buffenbarger and Romero were named to the all-freshman team as well. Buffenbarger finished with a 10-7 record and ranked third in the league with 132 strikeouts. Romero batted .393 and ranked second in the Horizon League with 66 hits, which also ranked sixth on the YSU single-season chart.
 
• Geanangel Making Her Mark
Senior pitcher Paige Geanangel is making her mark on the YSU record book. She ranks sixth all-time with 34 wins, ninth with 182 strikeouts and her six career shutouts rank tied for ninth. Geanangel needs six more wins to become just the fourth pitcher in school history with at least 40 career victories, and she needs two more srikeouts to move into eight place on theall-time list and 18 more whiffs to become the eighth pitcher to accumulate 200 strikeouts in a career.
 
• Home Opener
Youngstown State's home opener is slated for Wednesday, March 20, against Kent State at 3 p.m. while the Horizon League opener is a three-game series against Oakland, March 22-23, at the YSU Softball Field at the Covelli Sports Complex.