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Women’s basketball heading into the final stretch

Brittany Lucia
Junior Jenna Batsch going for the layup against Eastern Michigan University during the women’s basketball game on Jan. 24, 2024.

So far this season, the Kent State women’s basketball team is 13-6 overall and 8-2 in the Mid-American Conference. 

Coming into the season, the Flashes were projected to finish third in the MAC in the preseason coaches’ poll. 

They currently sit in third place behind Ball State (10-0 MAC) and Toledo (9-1 MAC)

After starting the season with five consecutive road games, the Flashes opened their home schedule with a 77-40 win over Coppin State. 

After dropping its next two games, Kent State went on a season-high six-game winning streak.

The Flashes lost three of their top five scores from last season due to graduation or transferring; however, junior forward Jenna Batsch has stepped into a role she never envisioned.

Before this season, Batsch had appeared in 47 games and logged 475 minutes. She averaged 1.8 points her freshman season and 3.1 during her sophomore season. 

This season, she has started all 19 games, averages 12.6 points and played 600 minutes.

“I didn’t see myself being a leading scorer coming into the season,” Batsch said. “My biggest focus has just been defense and rebounding, and I’ve tried to just let the offense come to me, and I think that’s really helped me not try not to think about it.”

Confidence is at an all-time high for Batsch, sophomore guard Corynne Hauser said.

“We have a lot of confidence in her just by seeing how hard she plays and how much work she has put in,” she said. “It gives us a lot of energy seeing her go off whenever she is able to go on a run by herself. It really gets the whole team going.”

Batsch’s running mate, redshirt senior guard Katie Shumate, is fifth in the MAC in scoring (14.2 average) and seventh in rebounding (6.6 average). 

“Sometimes it’s Jenna who starts the game strong for us,” coach Todd Starkey said. “Then Katie can just as easily take over the game. You can take one away, but the other one will step up for us.”

A consistent part of their game that continues to be critiqued both by the players and coaches is their struggle to play a complete game. 

“We’ve got to start getting to a point where we’re playing four solid quarters instead of letting one or two quarters really affect us in a negative way,” Starkey said. “That’s something that we definitely have room for growth on.” 

Starkey earned his 300th career win against Bowling Green and is now tied with Laurel Wartluft for the second-most wins in program history.

Checking in

In their last game, the Flashes lost 57-46 to MAC-leading Ball State. 

Despite the loss, Shumate had her fourth 20-plus point game of the season and had seven rebounds. 

‘I can’t say I was surprised; Katie is very capable against anybody,” Starkey said. “She can play at any level and have success. I think when she is that determined, she is a really talented player.”

Graduate students Abby Ogle (head) and Mikala Morris (ankle) are making their way back from injuries after appearing in the season’s opening 17 games. 

Ogle is one of three players to play over 200 minutes off the KSU bench, and Morris has started in all but one game.  

“Mikala and Abby are coming along, so they will be back here at some point in the near future,” Starkey said. “Their health comes first, and when they’re ready to play, they will be back in the lineup.”

Team stats 

Through 19 games, the Flashes have four players who average nine or more points: Shumate (14.2), Batsch (12.6), Hauser (9.6) and freshman forward Janae Tyler (9.2).

Hauser is sixth in the MAC, averaging 4.2 assists and has the fourth best assist to turnover ratio at 1.7.

Junior forward Bridget Dunn has recorded the most three-pointers at 29.

As a team, KSU is second in the conference in scoring (72.4) and defense (60.7) and is second in the MAC in total rebounds per game (41) and offensive rebounds (13.4).

Emily Lowen is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

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