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.
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
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.