YOUNGSTOWN - Sarah Ingalls, a junior utility softball player at Youngstown State University, knew she wanted to play college ball at a very young age.
"I played in the 14-and-under league with Kristen Philen (former YSU softball player) and saw all those girls playing in college and wanted to go too," Ingalls said. "My coach at Ursuline, Michael Kernan, was a big help in getting me to YSU."
Ingalls was a standout player in high school, playing two years at McDonald and finishing her last two at Ursuline. She earned four letters in her high school career, two at both schools. During her high school career, she was named first-team all-conference four times. As a senior, she batted .547, set school records for most home runs (7) and most RBIs (47), and was an all-Northeast Ohio player. She also helped her team reach the state finals as a junior.
YSU was very appealing to her when trying to decide on a college to attend.
"(YSU) was the closest to my hometown so I could be around my family and friends so they could watch me play my whole four years," Ingalls said. "Also, my major is special education with an art minor. They both have really good programs. It is a great university. It feels awesome to be a part of this program because I grew up going to YSU football games with my family. My whole family went to YSU, so I feel like I was born to come here."
Even though Ingalls had such success in high school, moving on to play in college was intimidating to her at first.
"It was a hard transition for me to play college softball because it is a faster-paced game," Ingalls said. "I was only 18 when I came here and was hitting against 22-year-old pitchers who know the game and how to throw and how to get me out. I still get nervous but I think that it is a good thing because in a way it makes me ready for the game. The nerves bring adrenaline and make me feel ready to play."
Her coach, Brian Campbell, knew that she could excel in his program.
"I used to follow her through her summer leagues and watched her play in some of her high school games," Campbell said.
After playing in only 20 games and starting 10 times in her freshman year, her playing time doubled as a sophomore appearing in 45 games with 42 starts. This season, she started in every game so far. As of April 20, she has 22 RBIs, second only to catcher Vicky Rumph who has 28. Her booming strength led her to smash three homeruns this year, second to again to Rumph. Out of the starters, she has the highest fielding percentage with .989.
"She has done a wonderful job hitting for us and has done a good job at first base the last couple of years," Campbell said. "With one swing of the bat, she can change a ball game. She has started all 22 games and has experience. She is a quiet leader that leads by example. She comes out and works hard every day and respects the game. She's a great player. "
Campbell's words mirrored her own when asked what she thought her greatest achievement was while in college.
"I feel like I grew into a leader and got a lot stronger," Ingalls said. "I also got in better shape since I came to YSU."
The competition that the Penguins are facing this year is still tough as usual, but Ingalls has high hopes for her team this season. As of April 20, the Penguins have a record of 12-19, 6-7 in the Horizon League.
"It's still tough but I feel confident in the team," Ingalls said. "I think that we can make it to the conference tournament."
Leading her team next year as a senior with her fellow seniors, she can finally fulfill what she was born to do, play four years of YSU softball.