Grimm’s homer lifts Flashes to series win over NIU


Senior catcher Erika Warren drives home a run with a base hit for the Kent State softball team. The Flashes won both games of the double-header against Central Michigan University at the Diamond at Dix, 4-0 and 9-0, on Saturday, March 26, 2016.

Nick Buzzelli

With two outs in the top of the seventh inning and the score tied for Kent State’s softball team, sophomore Maddy Grimm walked to the plate at the Mary M. Bell Field in Dekalb, Illinois.

Grimm already had an RBI double on the day two innings prior, but Northern Illinois University scored the game’s next two runs to knot the score at three.

The Flashes were down to their last out and in need of a quick offensive strike when she came to bat.

And that’s when Grimm, the starting third baseman, came through in the clutch, sending a solo shot over the left field wall and propelling Kent State (22-10, 5-1) to a 4-3 win over Northern Illinois (23-10 4-2) Sunday.

In the first game of the series, NIU pitcher freshman Alex Frenz stymied the Kent State lineup, giving up four hits and getting 10 outs via fly balls and six from groundouts. She also forced the Flashes to strand five runners on base.

Despite striking out 10, junior Ronnie Ladines suffered the loss for Kent State, her second of the season, surrendering four earned runs in six innings of work, including three from NIU senior Emily Naegele’s two home runs.

The Flashes bounced back in the second game, scoring three runs in the top of the second via freshman Hunter Brancifort’s single, an error by Naegele, NIU’s catcher, and junior Michele Duffy’s sacrifice fly.

However, the persistent Huskies – the top team in the Mid-American Conference’s West Division – slowly chipped away at the lead, adding one run in the second and another in the fifth.

But a Brancifort RBI single in the sixth and senior Erika Warren’s three-run double the following inning secured the 7-2 victory.

“All pre-season, we’ve been talking about the dogfight the MAC can be and today was a good example of what we have been preparing for,” Kent State Interim Head Coach Eric Oakley said, following Friday’s double-header. “We took some punches in game one, but regrouped and found our swings in game two.”

Kent State will travel to Athens for a double-header against the Ohio University Bobcats on Tuesday before returning to the Diamond at Dix for a weekend series against Eastern Michigan University on Friday and Saturday.

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