Cash is doggone ready to return

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Lordstown graduate Sarah Cash is ready to return to action for the Penguins after being injured last season.

YOUNGSTOWN — Sarah Cash loves that quick 23-minute drive from Youngstown State’s University’s campus.

The Lordstown High School graduate knows what’s waiting for her — three dogs. Eddie is a Labrador, Addie is a poodle. Then there’s Kyrie — yes, named after the Cleveland Cavaliers point guard. This dog is thought to be a beagle/lab mix.

“I honestly I don’t know what he is,” Cash said of Kyrie.

There are also two Yorkies, which are her grandparents’ dogs, staying at her parent’s home.

The energy she expended as YSU women’s basketball player is harnessed in Kyrie, kind of fitting for it to be stuck with a basketball player’s name.

“My one dog is so excited,” Cash said. “He likes to play fetch all day. He plays for hours. He’d bring you the ball 5 minutes later after he’s like dying on the floor.

“It’s good because he’s always excited and happy. It makes me think there’s no reason to be down. It’ll always be next year.”

That’s the 2017-18 season for Cash, who received a medical redshirt after succumbing to a lingering right knee injury from the summer of 2016. She played seven non-conference games last season, but only started one.

Cash, who was the team’s leading scorer as a 6-foot-1 sophomore forward, gave the Penguins a much-needed inside presence. Her injury, coupled with other starters Nikki Arbanas and Kelsea Newman having their own season-ending setbacks, led to YSU’s 9-21 season.

Wednesday was the Penguins’ final summer practice of the season and Cash didn’t hesitate on her side-to-side movement, range of motion, jumping ability or driving to the basket.

YSU coach John Barnes sees the difference in her play and appreciates the influence she has on the team offensively and defensively.

“It’s such a difference for our offense with her in there,” Barnes said.

Win or lose, Cash always has her dogs to bring a smile to her face — something that wasn’t too prevalent last season.

“I always look forward to going home playing with my dogs after games, especially when we didn’t play as well as we could have,” Cash said.

This year, it could be a different situation with the Lordstown native back on the floor.

“She’s been doing great,” Barnes said. “Knock on wood, no problems with them and playing as hard as she can which is what we want.”