Tilton leads Flashes in win at Miami

Nick Buzzelli

The first two games of the Kent State softball team’s weekend doubleheader at Miami University nearly mirrored each other.

In both instances, the Flashes jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first, but couldn’t sustain the offensive production. This enabled the RedHawks to tally seven unanswered runs in the first contest and eight in the second.

But things were different in the series finale—specifically, the final score.

The Flashes scored four runs in the first en route to a 9-6 win against Mid-American Conference East Division leader Miami Saturday at the MU Softball Stadium in Oxford.

“The MAC continues to be very balanced and every game matters,” said Eric Oakley, interim head coach, following the game. “Getting the win in game two today was big in terms of keeping us in contention. We finally got the timely hits we needed, and that made the difference.”

The Flashes struck first in game three, scoring senior Arika Roush on a sophomore Holly Speers walk and freshman Hunter Brancifort on a senior Shelbi Tilton sacrifice fly to right.

Kent State infielder junior Maddy Grimm extended the lead in the third when she smacked a homer—the 45th of her career—over the center field wall, giving her sole possession of fifth place on the MAC softball career-home run list.

Junior pitcher Janel Hayes kept the red-hot Redhawks at bay until the bottom of the fourth, when two runners scored because of senior Michele Duffy’s error at second base. However, Kent State responded in the following inning by scoring five runs, including three from a Tilton bases-clearing double.

“Shelbi swung the bat well all weekend, and it’s great to see a senior step up this time of the season,” Oakley said.

Miami slowly began chipping away at the lead, adding three in the fifth and one in the sixth to cut the deficit to three. But by that time, junior Ronnie Ladines had entered the game in relief and secured the victory.

The Flashes open a seven-game home stand at the Diamond at Dix Wednesday afternoon against the University of Pittsburgh.

Nick Buzzelli is a sports reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].