Another week in softball that was unfortunately shortened due to the weather. That being said, there is always plenty to talk about every week. It’s going to be a great edition of the Hot Corner.

High School Recap: 

The week got started with a big statement inside the MVAC. Champion thumped Crestview to prove to the conference, and the softball scene that they were not a second thought. The Flashes scored a combined 22 runs in the first innings of the two games on Monday and Tuesday. Emma Gumant brought the power in game one knocking in 5 RBI with a home run. Gumant also pitched a gem throwing 8 strike outs in her 5.0 IP.  Then Champion one upped their game in the second meeting scoring 12 runs in the first inning. Much like her teammate in the first game, Cassidy Shaffer matched wonderful pitching with a power stacked offensive production. Shaffer went 4-4 with 5 RBI at the plate, while also throwing 5 innings giving up 0 earned runs. Both teams came into this series with a legitimate chance to win the MVAC, and Champion firmly planted their flag as remaining top dog in the conference.

Poland also came into this week leading their conference the NE8. Girard took a shot at the Bulldogs, and they didn’t miss. Emily Rosace handcuffed the high powered Poland offense. Rosace used her velocity, and riseball to keep the Bulldogs off balance. Rosace only gave up 1 run in 7 innings. She struck out 5. Abbie Rafferty led the charge at the plate for Girard. She went 3-3 with a RBI. Girard scored 3 runs, which was more than enough for the outing Rosace had. Girard’s win now shortens Poland’s lead on South Range to just 1 game. Poland still has a season series with Hubbard. And if the Eagles can win that series, or split it things all of the sudden get very interesting inside the NE8.

Jordan Anderson has been impressive in the circle all season for West Branch. She’s pitched multiple shut outs, and has come close to perfect games before, but this week she finally joined the perfect game party. Anderson reached perfection in the Warriors 11-0 win over Howland. The Tigers offense is no slouch. Cloe Lopez has 5 home runs on the year, and the Tigers have 12 as a team. Anderson was not phased by the threat of power. She struck out 10 Tigers on her way to perfection.

I was so excited to finally get a chance to head down to Louisville to see the Leopards play. They split a double header with a strong Claymont team. Kaylee Nolte absolutely lived up to her billing. The future Walsh player hit a two run home run on the day, and went 5-9 in the two games with 5 total RBI. She is one of the returning of their 2019 state championship team, and if the Leopards make another tournament run. You know Kaylee Nolte will be square in the middle of it.

YSN Alums:

Allison Smith continues her freshman season with Ohio State. She still leads the team in strike outs by a sizable margin. Smith has 109 strike outs on the season. Her ERA is still a very respectable 3.32. Smith has a record of 9-11, she also leads the team in complete games with 8. Also from Champion, Sophie Howell was a part of YSU’s first Horizon League regular season championship in program history. Howell pitched out of the bullpen in game 2 against Cleveland State throwing 2 innings, striking out 3, and giving up 1 hit. Lisbon’s Kennedy Vrable did not get an at bat over the weekend, but still deserves much credit for her team’s success. Mooney’s Conchetta Rinaldi continues to impress behind the plate for the Penguins. Rinaldi went 2-4 in game 2 vs the Vikings with 4 RBI. She went 1-3 in the Penguins series finale win that clinched the Horizon League title. South Range’s Caragyn Yanek continues her senior season with Findlay. Yanek got her 9th win of the season over the weekend against Hillsdale. Yanek struck out 8 in 5.0 IP. Louisville’s Sydney McKeever continues to fill in her role with Toledo as a baserunner. The Rockets are 23-20 as they gear up for the MAC tournament which will be held at Akron Firestone Stadium not too far from Louisville. I’m sure Sydney will have a strong fan base there.

Special Guest: Ashley Burkhardt 

Ashley is an Indiana native, Fort Wayne to be exact who won a state title in her high school days. Something not many people get to experience. However as Ashley’s career went on, she continued to be able to do things that not many others get to do. Burkhardt was recruited and signed to Purdue. The raise in level didn’t stop Burkhardt from shining on the field. Ashley was named NFCA All Region 3 years in a row. She was named first team All-Big 10 in 2014. In 2015, she had a slugging percentage of .618, hit 48 RBI, and 11 HR. Her success at Purdue earned her recognition and interested from the National Pro Fastpitch league. After her senior season she was drafted by the Dallas Charge. She also went on to be a volunteer assistant at Purdue. Ashley spent two season in the NPF before ending her career. Now, Ashley has her own physical and mental training program. She has a passion for working with the age group that is still growing into who they will be. Burkhardt also hosts her own podcast “When The Cleats Come Off” which can be found wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also find her training program by visiting





It’s already week 5 in high school softball. It’s crazy to think how fast the season has gone, we are just a couple weeks away from the postseason and teams are trying to jockey for position. Cold and snow put a damper on the week and postponed two days of games. But there is still plenty of softball to talk about.

High School Recap

Austintown Fitch continues to impress over this season. For the last several weeks the Falcons had been dominating so much that Lydia Spalding and Kayla Schubert were able to split time in the circle. However in their second game against Canfield the Cardinals kept the high powered Fitch offense in check, and for the first time in a while Spalding had to throw in high leverage situations. She dazzled. She threw six innings of shutout softball in the Falcons 3-0 win to sweep the Cardinals and remain undefeated in the AAC.

South Range got a season sweep of Hubbard to bounce back from getting swept by Poland the week before. Both teams were tied for second in the NE8 and if they had any chance to catch up with Poland, they needed to win this series. South Range did not mess around a whopped Hubbard 13-0 and 8-5. Kelly Szolek is really starting to become a staple in the Raiders lineup. Szolek tore up the Eagles pitching staff. She has been put in the clean up spot in the Raiders lineup.  Even though they got swept, Hubbard did not let the losses bring them down. They went on in their next two games to push Ursuline and Marlington to the absolute brink. Both teams used walk off hits to beat the Eagles. Their record might not show it, but Hubbard will be impressive in the tournament. Freshman Isabella O’Brien is showing off what kind of future she will have. In 59.1 IP she has an ERA of 2.94. She has also knocked in 13 RBI with a batting average of .304. Hubbard is a sleeper in Division II.

Ursuline finally got pushed in to pressure situations over the weekend. They were tested. And they passed with flying colors. Hubbard hit well against the Irish and tied the game at 7 in the 7th but Emily Holland came up with a walk off triple to bring away the 8-7 win. Later in the weekend it was Alyssa Sheely who capped off a 3 run seventh with a go ahead sac fly to give the Irish a 4-3 lead, and eventual win over Bishop Watterson. Ursuline not only came through in multiple pressure situations, but it was consistently different players who came through for them. The Irish sit at number 2 in the latest Ohio Coaches Poll.

Lisbon’s head coach Dave Crismon earned a wonderful career milestone winning his 300th game of his career when the Blue Devils beat Salem 11-0 over the weekend. Mya Emmerling is really stepping up for the Devils in the circle with Emma Thompson out with an injury. Emmerling also pitched Lisbon to a season split with Columbiana. Justyce Vrable hit a game tying 3 run HR in the bottom of the seventh to tie the Clippers, and then Lisbon walked it off with back to back doubles.

YSN Alums 

Kennedy Vrable, Conchetta Rinaldi, and Sophie Howell took the trip with YSU to Robert Morris where the Penguins split on the road. Rinaldi went 3-3 in Game 1 where the Penguins won. She continues to masterfully call the pitches for YSU, and manage a phenomenal pitching staff. Howell did not get any innings this weekend. Vrable got a couple of at bats off the bench. Caragyn Yanek from South Range celebrated her senior day at Findlay with her seventh win of the year in the circle over Tiffin. Yanek went 6 innings striking out 3 and giving up 3 earned runs. Her ERA is now 2.50 with 70 K and 15 BB.

Special Guest: Amanda Scarborough 

Im very honored and blessed to have the opportunity to bring on Amanda Scarborough as this week’s special guest on the Hot Corner. Amanda is one of ESPN’s premiere softball analysts. She began her ESPN career in 2009 calling the Super Regionals. In 2015 she started working the WCWS for ESPN.  Scarborough can also be heard across the ESPN family of networks during the regular season. Amanda played softball at Texas A&M from 2005-2008. She was the first student athlete in Big 12 history to earn Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year award in the same season (2005). Amanda now runs a training service called Pitching Angel where Ananda not only develops the physical side of pitching but works with athletes on their mental game inside the circle. You can start training with Amanda by visiting You can also follow Amanda on all her social media platforms for free content and information in her archives.

-Anthony Hartwig




Welcome back to the Hot Corner! We had to deal with some chilly weather this week, but the softball was hot. Things are starting to really take form as teams dive into their conference schedules. Some teams made some big strides towards a conference championship this week.

High School Recap:

We opened up the week with the highly anticipated South Range vs Poland matchup. Both teams came in to this series undefeated and knew that these games would give the winners a huge leg up. It was Poland that came away with the season sweep. They used power in both games to lift past the Raiders. The Bulldogs hit 4 home runs in 2 games. The most impressive thing about their wins though, was that they did it by getting production from the bottom half of their lineup. The Bulldogs looked much deeper in their lineup than in weeks past, and that makes them a very dangerous team. With Hubbard splitting their series with Girard, Poland is now sitting all alone atop the NE8. Hubbard and South Range meet this week and that series is a must win for both if they want to try and keep pace with Poland.

Ursuline continues to impress. They are still undefeated, and I had a chance to see them live again against Champion. The Irish lineup is lethal. It is quite honestly as close to a college lineup as I’ve seen in high school. 1-9 everyone can hit and put together quality at bats. The Irish have hit 18 HRs as a team in 12 games played. The power is spread out too, seven different hitters have hit a long ball this year. To add to the offensive productivity, Emily Holland and Paige Ogden have looked solid in the circle. They aren’t just winning slugfests, they’re run ruling teams by blasting on offense, and shutting people down on defense. Holland has a sub 1 ERA of 0.80 and Ogden has an ERA of 1.59.

One of the biggest wins of the seasons so far was LaBrae’s 6-0 win over McDonald on Friday night. Desi Allen was the pitcher that shined in this matchup, and the Vikings offense figured out the puzzle that is Bri Callow in the circle. Like most teams with a dominant ace, in times when she struggles the offense tends to tighten up. Unfortunately McDonald fell in to that trap and Allen took complete advantage of it, and shut them down. Allen threw all 7 innings, only giving up 4 hits and struck out 7. Allen might be one of those pitchers that sits under the radar and shocks some people come tournament time.

I broadcasted two extra inning games this week, and both were very exciting games that were cleanly played. Mooney walked off Mineral Ridge in 9 innings with a walk off infield single by Alaina Francis. This particular game was so fun to watch. Both defenses were locked in. Even the walk off hit was a great defensive play by Rams third baseman Maddy Ylonen who just couldn’t make the throw across the diamond in time. Haleigh Taylor for Ridge and Alaina Scavina for Mooney both pitched extremely well. Taylor got out of a couple of big jams proving that she could throw in high pressure situations. This will come up huge in tournaments for the Rams. Despite the loss I think Mineral Ridge can use this game as momentum as the season goes on.

i also broadcasted the extra inning game in Boardman as Champion beat Boardman 4-3 in 9 innings. Cassidy Shaffer led the Flashes to the big bounce back win. They lost to Ursuline 13-6 the night before. This game included a big seventh inning rally by Boardman. Madison Lester came to the plate with 2 on and 2 outs trailing 3-1 and hit a clutch 2 RBI double to send the game into extras. Cassidy Shaffer hit in the winning run for Champion, and got the win inside the circle. Champion’s record may be a little surprising based on their past resume, but don’t forget that they are scheduling way up. If Shaffer stays down in the zone and pitches to contact, Champion will go far. Their infield is way above average and perfectly suited to field the many ground balls that Shaffer tends to induce.

YSN Alums: 

YSU has 3 former YSN players on their roster and the Penguins had a huge sweep of second place Oakland to further strengthen their stance in first place in the Horizon League. Sophie Howell from Champion pitched 6 innings on Saturday and only gave up 1 run on 5 hits. She struck out 6. She continues to make the most out of opportunities given. The Penguins staff is very deep this year, but these innings that Howell is getting now will pay dividends in the years to come when the Penguins rely on her more. Former Mooney Cardinal Conchetta Rinaldi got in the RBI party over the weekend for the Penguins. Since YSU is without a pitching coach, Rinaldi pretty much calls the whole game herself. This is so rare in the sport these days. Rinaldi does a fantastic job understanding the pitching staff, and studying up on opposing hitters. In my opinion Rinaldi  has a hand in every single impressive pitching stat the Penguins gather this season. Former South Range Raider Caragyn Yanek picked up her 7th win of her senior season as Findlay split a double header with Tiffin. Yanek now has an ERA of 2.40 with a great strike out to walk ratio of 64 K and 13 BB. Allison Smith from Champion continues to get consistent starts for Ohio State. She pitched well on Sunday in the Buckeyes season finale against Indiana. The Buckeyes lost 3-0, but Smith did an excellent job keeping the Buckeyes in the game. Smith’s ERA is still an impressive 3.18. She leads the team in strike outs with 87 K in 88.0 IP.

Special Guest: Lexi Zappitelli 

(Courtesy YSU Athletics)

Lexi spent four years as a YSU Penguin from 2016-2019. Before YSU Zappitelli was an First team All-State senior at Conneaut High School. She finished her senior season with a .574 batting average. She also pitched well in high school and finished her senior season with a 20-4 record and an ERA of 1.25. Lexi became a staple in the Penguins lineup during her junior season. Zappitelli started 41 games in 2018 and hit .413 with 30 R and 22 RBI.  Now that her playing career is over, Lexi has taken a job on staff at Conneaut. Going through a division 1 career, and coming back to her old high school Zappitelli is sure to bring a lot to the staff at Conneaut. And who knows? Some YSN teams might just run into Zappitelli down the road in the tournaments.




Welcome back inside another week of the Hot Corner! We had such an exciting week of softball on YSN, and the weather was beautiful for the whole week.  We have a lot to talk about in this edition with a high school recap of week 2, more updates on YSN alums, and this week’s special guest Sara Michalowski-Marino.

High School Recap: 

We can not start this recap without bringing up the perfect games of Bri Callow.  The McDonald ace threw two perfect games in the week, yes 2! I got to interview Bri this week as part of YSN;s player profiles series.  She gave some great insight into her mindset during the perfect games.  Some people might think it is a cliché to say “pitch by pitch” but with Bri it is legitimate.  She already has 98 strikeouts on the season.  Her spin, and location makes her so tough to hit.  When i got to see her pitch this week, her swing and miss rate was off the charts.

A couple of freshman in the area have really showed up strong so far this season.  Mackenzi Gamble has turned into a legitimate ace for Columbiana, giving them depth inside the circle.  Gamble leads the team in innings pitched with 28.2.  Her ERA is 1.47.  Gamble brings velocity, and maybe the highest velocity I have seen from a freshman in quite some time.  It is hard for a lot of hitters at this level to catch up to her riseball.  What Gamble brings to the Clippers will really show up in tournaments.  The ability to be able to throw two different arms becomes crucial down the stretch against high quality teams in the late rounds of a bracket.

A freshman that is doing it on the other side of the field in the batter’s box is Poland’s Mary Brant.  She is bringing a feared bat into the lineup of the Bulldogs.  Brant leads the team in almost every offensive category.  Brant has a batting average of .625, she has 6 HR,  and 18 RBI.  She has done all this in just 7 games.  It is really incredible to see a young player not phased at all by the step up to the varsity level.  This week, i am really looking forward to see how South Range standout Bree Kohler pitches to Brant.

Speaking of Kohler, she also threw a perfect game this week for the Raiders during their trip to Myrtle Beach.  A very productive trip to the beach too.  The Raiders went 5-1 and continued to get contributions from everyone in the lineup.  6 Raider hitters have at least 7 RBI, and 4 of them have more than 10.

Coming into this season, i think the softball community expected Poland and South Range to be the frontrunners for the NE8.  And while those teams are having fantastic starts, i think Hubbard has officially entered the party.  The Eagles pushed Boardman to the brink this week, getting walk offed 2-1, but bounced back with a double header sweep of a very good West Branch team.  The Eagles have seven hitters that are currently batting above .400.  The lineup is relentless, and there are no breaks for pitchers.  It really gives the feel of a college level lineup, where you can’t sleep on anyone 1-9.  They don’t slouch in the circle though either, the Eagles have 3 pitchers that have given them significant innings.  Hubbard’s team ERA is 3.19.  It will be an interesting week for the Eagles with games against Girard and Canfield on the slate.

YSN Alums

Champion’s Allison Smith is keeping her ERA below 2.50 with a total of 2.33. She got her first taste of the Buckeyes rivalry with Michigan this weekend.  Although the Buckeyes lost 3 of 4 games, Smith pitched well in the series.  In an interview with YSN during her senior year at Champion, Smith talked about how much she was looking forward to the rivalry with Michigan. Another Champion grad Sophie Howell struck out 11 in 6 innings against Green Bay this weekend.  She gave up 3 ER and currently sits at a season ERA of 4.71.  South Range’s Caragyn Yanek got her 6th win in the circle for Findlay, she threw 4.0 IP and struck out 6.  Poland’s Brooke Bobbey went 1-2 in St Bonaventure’s 8-0 loss to Fordham over the weekend.  Another former Poland Bulldog, Kaili Gross is 2-2 in the circle for Case Western Reserve with an ERA of 3.00.  Former Louisville Leopard Sydney McKeever has scored 5 runs for Toledo, but is still looking for her first base hit.  Toledo is a deep team, so Sydney hasn’t gotten too many opportunities to this point with just 4 at bats, but they are using her on the base paths, and she is doing whatever it takes to make an impact on the team.

Special Guest: Sara Michalowski-Marino

No. 18 Mizzou Tigers vs. No. 24 Auburn Tigers at Mizzou Softball Stadium in Columbia, Mo. on Friday, March 27, 2021.
Zach Bland/Mizzou Athletics

I am so happy to add another coach to the special guests of the Hot Corner.  Sara is the assistant coach at Missouri, and brings some great insight into this week’s edition.  Sara is now in her third year on staff at Missouri.  When head coach Larissa Anderson got hired, Sara was the first hire she made as an assistant.  Michalowski is familiar with how coach Anderson operates, she was Anderson’s assistant at Hofstra from 2017-2018.  She also played for Anderson at Hofstra from 2008-2011.  Coach Michalowski made the most out of her opportunity to coach at the SEC level, in 2019 she was named NFCA Assistant Coach of the Year.  When Michalowski was hired Anderson said “her passion, knowledge, dedication, and work ethic are what I’m looking for in additions to our staff.” As a player, Michalowski left Hofstra as a top ten program performer in career HR and RBI.  She is a Philadelphia native that played at Archbishop Ryan High School before joining Hofstra. It was great to catch up with coach Michalowski and get her thoughts on high school softball, and highlight her softball journey.  I want to thank Missouri Softball SID Paul McCaw for setting up the interview.




Welcome to another week inside the Hot Corner! It has been such a long wait, but we finally have a week of high school softball to talk about.  On Saturday, i called my first high school game in two years, and it felt great to be back out there covering amazing athletes in the area.  In this edition of the Hot Corner we will walk through the first week of games, get more updates on our YSN alums, and hear from this week’s special guest head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats, Rachel Lawson.

High School Recap

I want to start this week’s recap with the games i was physically at doing a broadcast for.  I started the season at South Range, as they opened their season against Garfield.  With the way this game started, anyone would have thought it would be a competitive fight.  Garfield opened the game with several quality at bats against the Raiders ace Bree Kohler.  They loaded the bases, and really had a golden opportunity to score first and put the pressure on South Range.  It puts a microscope on how important timely hitting can be, the Lady G-Men squandered the bases loaded chance, and really never had a good chance to score on Kohler the rest of the afternoon.  After the Raiders escaped the jam, their offense ambushed Garfield’s pitcher.  Reagan Irons led off the game with a home run, hit early in the count, and then knowing that Garfield would want to get ahead of the hitter after a HR, the next hitter Madison Dado launched one to give South Range back to back HR’s.  The Raiders would go on to hit 2 more home runs throughout the day, from two different hitters.  This Raiders lineup has already proven how deep and dangerous they are.  In years past, even coach DeRose would admit that there had been holes in their lineup that made them susceptible to scoring droughts.  It does not appear that this will be the case this season if this trend keeps up. You match that with the fact that the Raiders now have some serious depth in the circle, so all the pressure is not on Kohler to go out every night with her A game, big things are on the horizon for South Range.  They travel down to Myrtle Beach for spring break, and this will be a real measuring tool on how good this team can be.

I then ventured to Boardman to check in on Boardman.  Their first game of the season was an absolute test, as they welcomed in Walsh Jesuit who brought two division 1 commits on their roster.  The Spartans hung tough for about three innings, but then Madi Lester started to struggle with command, and the talented lineup of the Warriors did not miss the mistakes.  Boardman quickly saw the Warriors break the game open and roll to a 16-4 victory.  Lester is a great pitcher, her movement is high level and tough to read, the problem she can run in to is because her velocity isn’t high, her accuracy and location has to be.  In the Spartans opener she just simply lost her command against a very good lineup.  I don’t expect her to have many games like that, her spin is just too good.  It is definitely better to have a rough night in March than in May.

I did two Poland games this week and caught up with the young Bulldog team.  They have looked very impressive in the two games I have seen from them.  Katie McDonald is their workhorse in the circle, and that was certainly a question mark coming in to the season.  McDonald has answered any doubters by pitching every inning so far this season, and holding an ERA of under 1.00.  She does a great job moving her pitches, and uses both sides of the plate.  I saw many hitters go after her riseball, which tells me it breaks late.  Obviously at some point, Poland will have to find an answer for a number 2 pitcher in the circle, but for now McDonald is holding down the fort.  McDonald is also a leader in the Poland offense, she has already hit 3 HR.  But, she isn’t alone, Mary Brant has kicked the door own her freshman season being tied for the team lead in HR with 3.  She already has her first grand slam of her career, and has shown tremendous range at shortstop.  Poland will be very much in the conversation in the NE8 alongside South Range, and Hubbard.

There are some other performances this week that i can’t ;let go unnoticed in week 1. Lydia Spalding is off to a great start in the circle, which is no shock.  She opened the season by throwing a perfect game in Fitch’s win over LaBrae.  You literally can not start a season much better than throwing a perfect game.  The Falcons are being exactly what we expected, their lineup is deep and hard to pitch around and their ace in the circle is one of the best in the area.  Their schedule might make their record lower than some other teams, but they will be prepared for tournaments no doubt about that.  In the preview last week I talked about Crestview’s Kaedyn Sutton, who led the Rebels her freshman year in the circle.  Sutton is still going strong, and impressing after a tough first game against Howland. However, the Rebels proved that they have more to offer in the circle.  On Saturday against Campbell, they sent out McKenna Schultz who threw her first career no hitter.  Schuktz will definitely be someone to keep an eye on as the season goes along.  For Columbiana, Tori Long is putting on a show hitting .800 at the dish with 8 RBI in the young season.  Long is also 2-0 in the circle with an ERA of 1.50.  Bri Callow is another star in the circle in the area, she is leading a tough McDonald team.  In their victory over Girard on Saturday, Callow struck out all 15 batters in a 5 inning win.

YSN Alums

Since we have last met in the Hot Corner Allison Smith and her Buckeyes continue to impress. They have taken the first three games of the series this weekend against Penn St.  Allison now has an ERA of 2.26 in 8 games started.  She has struck out 64 batters and continues to be a big impact for the Buckeyes.  YSU has multiple local talents and are off to a 11-3 start to Horizon League play.  Conchetta Rinaldi has seemingly locked down the starting catcher job.  Her ability to navigate the deep pitching of the Penguins has been very impressive as a player with not a ton of experience.  Sophie Howell is still putting in some innings for the Guins.  Lisbon’s Kennedy Vrabel has gotten a few at bats over the weekend. She is hitting .279 in the few opportunities she has gotten.  Brooke Bobbey, formally of Poland has collected her first collegiate hit with St Bonaventure.  She has only gotten 10 ABs so far but is being used off the bench to pinch run from time to time.  Former South Range Raider, Caragyn Yanek is 5-2 for Findlay with an ERA just above 2.00.  She has 53 strike outs compared to just 11 walks.  Yanek pitched the Raiders to a state runner up in 2016, and is now in her senior year with Findlay.

Special Guest: Rachel Lawson

Rachel Lawson.
Kentucky beat EKU 6-5.
Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

I am very excited about this week’s special guest.  I was lucky enough to get some time with the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats, Rachel Lawson.  The Wildcats are currently ranked 7th in the nation, and have taken a series from then number 2 Alabama.  They are one of the best team’s in the country and I am truly humbled to be able to interview her, and to share her insights with all of you.

Lawson is in her 14th season at the helm of Kentucky.  A program that had never made it to the postseason before her arrival has now become one of the premiere teams in the nation.  Lawson has led the Wildcats to their program’s first WCWS,  and seven NCAA Super Regionals in the last nine seasons.  In 2014, Kentucky won 50 games the most it had ever won. Coach Lawson earned her 400th career win at the Clearwater Invitational against Utah in 2018.  Kentucky has been given a national seed in six of the last seven seasons.  Coach Lawson’s overall record at Kentucky is 524-360.





Welcome back softball! Yes that is right, softball season is back.  The collegiate level of softball is in full swing, and the high school season in the state of Ohio is about to begin.  With a new season comes the return of the Hot Corner on YSN.  Over the summer, the Hot Corner was your place for coverage of travel softball in the area, and the high school season will be no different.  This blog will serve as a source for all our fellow softball fans to get in depth coverage of the YSN softball teams.  We will go beyond the story recaps to dive in to the big matchups, the amazing plays, and the key wins every week on the Hot Corner.  Along with weekly recaps and analysis another section of this blog i am particularly excited about is staying updated on YSN alums in college.  Loyalty is a pillar of the YSN brand and this blog will stay loyal to the players we have covered that have gone on to continue their careers at the next level. Finally as always the Hot Corner will end with a special guest from the softball world that will share their experiences and knowledge with our fans. We had tremendous guests join us over the summer that played on national teams, played in national championships, coached power 5 programs, and much more.

High School Preview

So here as we get started on the Hot Corner let’s get a preview of the upcoming high school softball season.  I will say this particular season might be the hardest to predict and preview that we have ever seen,.  Rosters are dramatically different than when we last saw these teams during the 2019 season.  To really get a grasp on where these programs might land, you have to look at the top.  Which programs have coaches that have been there, done that and will be able to quickly evaluate their roster and adjust accordingly.  A handful of coaches come to mind, and of course it has to start with Cheryl Weaver at Champion.  Weaver has been able to build a dynasty with the Golden Flashes.  In 2019, they won their third consecutive state championship and they did not allow a single run in their tournament journey. Coach Weaver has won 6 state titles as the head coach of Champion.  Now of course a big part of that was their pitching combo of Allison Smith, and Sophie Howell who are now at Ohio State, and YSU respectively.  Champion fans should not blink at that though, because Coach Weaver very rarely doesn’t have an ace in her back pocket.  The Flashes would be going for their fourth straight state championship, in an unconventional way admittingly, skipping 2020 like everyone else. Champion returns a couple standouts from 2019, including Emma Gumant, and Brooke Witt, joining them returning from 2019 and will also be captains are Lauren Fife, and Cassidy Shaffer.

Staying in division three, Jeff DeRose, and Greg Eskra are both helming successful programs, that have shown they are more than one season wonders.  Eskra and the Rebels will have a young talented squad, with a seasoned ace in the circle.  Junior Kaedyn Sutton led the Rebels to a district championship game in her freshman season.  She may have missed her sophomore season, but she got plenty of experience over the summer in travel ball.  Kaedyn won more games than anyone in her conference in 2019 with 16 wins as a freshman.  She will be a problem in the circle for anyone who steps in against the Rebels.  Jeff DeRose has been leading a successful program at South Range for quite some time, and I don’t expect that to change this year.  The Raiders are young as far as high school experience goes, but a majority of their roster plays travel ball, and got plenty of reps over the summer against quality competition,  Bree Kohler will step into the circle for her senior season already owning a chunk of offensive, and defensive records at South Range.  The YSU commit has really sharpened her pitching as the years have gone by.  She brings plenty of velocity to the table, but her change in speeds is what makes her so hard to hit off of.  Reagan Irons should add a good 1-2 punch in the circle for the Raiders as well, that has been something they have missed in the past years, relying heavily on Kohler caught with them at times.  Samantha Susany has already looked impressive in scrimmages as she took Austintown Fitch’s Lydia Spalding out of the park twice in their scrimmage.

Speaking of Fitch, they will be another team to watch out for as they have a ton of talent on their roster.  Coach Ward leads a Falcons team that can shut you down in the circle with Spalding who is locked in to play for Penn State next year, they can also beat you up at the plate with hitters like Maddy Taylor, and Sophia Senediak.  Although Fitch plays in a very tough conference with the likes of teams like Boardman, Howland, and Canfield, i expect them to have a very successful season.

Another team like Champion who is coming off a state championship is Louisville.  The Leopards won a dramatic 10 inning thriller to secure the 2019 state championship.  Sydney McKeever is unfortunately another star from a championship that lost her senior season to the pandemic.  But the Leopards still have plenty of reasons to be optimistic.. They have strength in the circle with Kendra Thomas, and an offense that put up 11 runs in their last scrimmage. Brooke Brendle looked impressive at the plate in that game with 3 RBI. Kaylee Nolte will also be returning for the Leopards.  She was on fire during the Leopards tournament run in 2019.  To see a preview of more teams, every YSN team in fact, check out YSN’s series “Headed Home” which will have a preview of every softball and baseball team in the YSN family.

YSN Alums

*All stats and numbers are as of March 26th

We will be staying updated on YSN alums as they play in college all season long.  This week I want to update everyone on Champion’s aces Allison Smith, and Sophie Howell who are both making immediate impacts in the circle for their teams.  Allison Smith has already started 5 games, and appeared in 10 for Ohio State.  The Buckeyes are playing a conference only schedule this season, but the Big 10 has not intimidated Smith.  She leads the team in ERA with a clip of 1.64.  She has struck out 42 batters already early in her freshman season.  Smith also has 3 complete games to her credit, and a save.  Sophie Howell is another former Golden Flash that is making an immediate impact in the circle as a freshman.  For Youngstown State, Howell has thrown 23.2 innings for the Penguins, who are very deep in the circle.  Howell has started 4 games for the Penguins and a record of 2-2 with an ERA of 4.73.  That ERA can be a bit inflated with lower innings pitched.  Howell has 22 strike outs and just 7 walks on the year so far. Also with YSU, former Cardinal Mooney catcher Conchetta Rinaldi has started 16 out of the 18 games the Penguins have played.  Rinaldi has a batting average of .275 right now and has hit a HR with 4 RBI. Former Poland Bulldog Kaili Gross has appeared in two games for Case Western Reserve and has an ERA so far of 2.33 with 4 K’s. We will stay up to date on more, and more softball alums as the season goes along and more teams get into full gear.  Several college teams have just now started their season.  If you know of a YSN alum that is doing well in the college ranks be sure to let us know on the YSN socials and I will make sure to add them to the blog.

Special Guest: Morgan Howe

Morgan Howe was a guest on the Hot Corner last summer as she was getting ready to start her professional career with Athletes Unlimited. She has quickly become a big supporter of the blog as the summer went on, so what better way to kick off the new season than by catching up with her. To say she had a successful venture into the professional ranks would be an understatement.  Morgan got 51 at bats over the season, and hit .333.  She also gathered 3 HR’s and 12 RBI. Morgan says the ability to grow and learn with some of the world’s best players was an unbelievable experience.  She has had a hectic offseason, as she went from her time with AU to Florida to join the Gators as a graduate assistant.  She got a call asking her to join the FGCL (Florida Golf Coast League) in a trip to play in Spain.  Forced to make a difficult decision Morgan stepped away from the Florida position for the chance to continue playing, and travel to Spain.

In college, Morgan split her time between Fresno State, and then transferring to Arizona State.  As a Sun Devil, Howe hit a career clip of .380.  She hit 20 HRs and hit in 103 RBI.  Howe was named 2nd Team All-Pac 12 in 2018.





Happy September 1st! Very happy for the Class of 2022s who can now officially be contacted by college coaches. How exciting for all the young players who have gone through a summer of uncertainty. I just want to say that despite the craziness of 2020 so far, you don’t have to rush the process. Everyone makes decisions at different paces. If one of your teammates or friends commits, it doesn’t mean you have to. Whatever school you choose, it has to be the right fit for you. With that being said we have another exciting edition of Hot Corner today. First we shine a spotlight on a 2022 and new member of our friends the Ohio Hawks 16U- Hutchinson, Bailey Manos. And I’m very excited to introduce the special guest for this week Georgia Tech Head Coach Aileen Morales.

Spotlight: Bailey Manos

Bailey is a class of 2022 from Harrison high school. According to stats on MaxPreps, in 2019 Manos hit at an average of .389. She didn’t get much action in the circle in her freshman season at Harrison, but believe me when I say Bailey is a duel threat. She has quick speed out of the left handed batters box. She also has great speed on her pitches. Watching highlights from this weekend on “Hawks Day” it is clear Bailey is not afraid to control the inside corner. She also can throw off speed down in the zone. I’m very excited to see what Bailey will do in the fall season with the Hawks. This edition is also released on her birthday. So happy birthday from the Hot Corner!

Special Guest: Aileen Morales

(Danny Karnik Georgia Tech Athletics)

Aileen Morales played for Georgia Tech from 2005-2008. She remains one of the most decorated student athletes in the softball program at Tech. She was recently put in the Georgia Tech hall of fame. After her time at Tech Morales played with the Puerto Rico National Team from 2007-2010. She also played professionally with the Chicago Bandits from 2008-2009. She went back to Tech to start her coaching experience. She was an assistant coach from 2010-2013. Later on Morales would take a head coaching job at Radford. She took a program over that had won just 12 games in the season before. She orchestrated the biggest turn around in NCAA softball as Radford went 35-26 in her first season. That coaching trend didn’t stop when she took over the helm at Tech. A program on a postseason drought, Morales led Tech to their first ACC tournament birth since 2014. She heads in to her fourth season at Tech in 2021. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to have coach Morales as guest.



Welcome to another week inside the Hot Corner. As players begin working towards their fall season we will continue to bring you coverage of all things softball on this blog. In this edition we shine a spotlight on a familiar face. Sydney Mercer of West Branch High School, and Ohio USSSA Pride-Scarlett talks about her summer in our first spotlight interview. I’m excited to do more of these in the future. Also this week’s special guest is Justin McLeod. Softball fans may know him better as Justin’s World of Softball. He does a fantastic job covering softball at every level. The Adam Shefter of the sport we all love.

Spotlight: Sydney Mercer.

Sydney Mercer spent her summer with our friends at Ohio USSSA Pride-Scarlett. She dazzled at the plate all summer long, putting up monster numbers. In 53 games played Sydney hit .544 with 24 HR and 80 RBI. With an eye popping OPS of 1.891 Sydney strikes fear in the eye of every pitcher she comes across. Mercer is a class of 2022 that plays her high school ball at West Branch. She also plays volleyball, and basketball. Her three sport routine keeps in her in shape for achieving her goals. Sydney was kind enough to take time to talk to me about her summer season.


Special Guest Justin McLeod

Justin is one of the premiere people that covers softball on a national scale. He covers the sport at all levels whether it be Division III college, travel ball, or professional. Justin started doing what he does for a similar reason YSN was founded. He wanted to cover a sport he saw no one covering. He started Justin’s World of Softball in 2012. Justin has been very helpfully to me when I started this blog. He gave me great advice on contacting college SID’s in order to get some of the wonderful guests we’ve already had on the Hot Corner. I was happy to return the favor and have the man who is usually asking the questions answer them. You can visit Justin’s World of Softball at for the latest softball news from around the country.




Another week, another great edition of Hot Corner is here. In this week’s edition we shine a spotlight on Nicolinnis Pezzone, and a very special guest Nebraska alum Tatum Edwards.

Spotlight: Nicolina Pezzone

Nicolina is a class of 2022 pitcher from Struthers high school. She plays for Ohio USSSA Pride- Green. She led the Pride in the circle to a tremendous 40 win summer. Nicolina has great control of her pitches and is starting to show a lot of movement on her curve. She is also a threat at the plate carrying a bat with power. She’ll head in to her junior season at Struthers with a lot more movement in store for the tough NE8 lineups she’ll have to face. Keep an eye on this hurler.

Special Guest: Tatum Edwards

(Courtesy NU Athletics)

Tatum Edwards hails from Murietta California, and spent her collegiate career at Nebraska before spending time as a professional in the NPF. Tatum has a experience pretty unique. She got to go through her softball career not just with her sister, but with her twin sister. Her sister Taylor and her decided early that wherever they went to college to play, they’d go together. They were a packaged deal. Nebraska was the program that jumped on the opportunity. Coach Rhonda Revelle saw what potential the two had. Tatum struggled at the start of her Nebraska career. The mental weight was getting to her. Coach Revelle had to have some tough conversations with her, and it was those conversations that built a strong trust between Tatum and her coach. In her junior season, Tatum showed everyone what she was truly capable of. She was named the Big Ten pitcher of the year and also an NFCA All American. She finished her career at Nebraska with a record of 70-28 with a career ERA of 2.02. She struck out 551 batters and only gave up 24 HR’s. Tatum was also a force at the plate finishing fourth all time at Nebraska in HR with 46 and fifth in RBI with 158.  After Tatum graduates she was signed as a free agent by the Pennsylvania Rebellion of the NPF. She also played for the Chicago Bandits winning back to back Cowles Cup Championships. Tatum is currently an assistant coach at Omaha. Taylor Edwards is currently on the USA National Team. Since USA decided to keep their Olympic roster in tact after the COVID postponement, Taylor will be competing in Tokyo in 2021.



Hello fellow softball junkies! It’s another edition of Hot Corner coming at you! In this edition we shine a spotlight on a new member of our friends the Ohio Lasers Yellow team, Holly Zeuch, we recap the Ohio Hawks final weekend of the summer at Scenic City, and our special guest this week is Arizona State alum and a member of the new professional softball league Athletes Unlimited,  Morgan Howe.

Spotlight: Holly Zeuch

Holly is the newest member of friends of the blog the Ohio Lasers Yellow-Easton squad. She is a 2022 pitcher from Mason High School. Holly brings incredible velocity to the circle, and she matches her speed with pretty consistent control. She’ll also be an asset outside the circle where she can easily throw runners out from the outfield. We also can’t let her great pitching and defense overshadow the fact that she has a pretty solid bat. Holly is going to bring some depth to the circle, and the lineup of the Lasers, and look for her to also keep Mason softball near the top of their region. It’s a tremendous softball program that continues to pop out D1 talent. Holly just might be the next in line.

Friends of The Blog

The Hawks had another productive weekend in Chattanooga for Scenic City. The Hawks went 4-2 over the weekend. Kendall Forren hit .583 over the weekend with 10 RBI, including a 2 run bomb. Jena Rhoads Hot .416 with a HR. Belle Hummel went 11/14 at the plate (.786 average) with a home run. On the second day of the weekend Hannah Hunt shines with a 5/9 showing in 4 games with 2 doubles. On day one, Hailey Massaro went just a double away from a cycle with a HR, a single, and a triple. Emma Schutter saw her last time on the diamond with the Hawks. She now heads into her senior season at Centerville as a Dayton commit. Congratulations to the Ohio Hawks 16U Gold- Hutchinson team on a great summer and thank you for being friends of the Hot Corner. We look forward to staying updated on your team in the future.

Special Guest: Morgan Howe

Arizona State plays Lipscomb in the during the Tuscaloosa NCAA Softball Regional, hosted by Alabama, Saturday, May 18, 2019, at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Photo by Vasha Hunt

Morgan grew up as a girl with a passion for playing softball, not so much for watching. When it came to her recruitment, she really didn’t have a understanding of the college softball scene. She didn’t know at Fresno State she was stepping into a program that wasn’t afraid of going up against the powerhouses in the sport. Fresno State was the definition of an underdog story.  After her freshman season Fresno head coach Trisha Ford left the program for Arizona State. Morgan roughed it out at Fresno as a sophomore leading the team with .418 average and earning a 1st team All-Mountain West nod. After her sophomore year Morgan made the decision to ultimately follow her original coach to Arizona State. She was stepping up in the softball world, going from an underdog program to a Sun Devil team that played in the PAC-12 and had plenty of success. Some of Morgan’s accomplishments at Arizona State are:

A career .380 hitter as a Sun Devil, 103 RBI, 20 HR, and a slugging percentage of .654. 2018 2nd Team All-Pac 12.

Morgan is now a graduate manager for Florida softball. She recently signed on to be an athlete in the new professional softball league, Athletes Unlimited. Their season starts August 30th.