Tag Archive for: YSU Softball


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.


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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.


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