Softball looks to continue success at Winthrop


Freshman pitcher Emma Johnson wound up for a pitch during the Flashes’ game against Eastern Michigan on Saturday, March 31, 2012. Kent State won with a final score of 6-1. Photo by Jenna Watson.

Christian Petrila

Kent State will look to build on last weekend’s promising performance when they travel to Winthrop for another five-game series starting Friday.

Pitching was dominant for the Flashes last weekend, putting together an ERA under three at the USF Invitational. Should the pitching continue to be stellar, the Flashes have a golden opportunity to have another solid weekend.

Last week, pitchers Emma Johnson and Lauren McNeil stole the show for the Flashes. The two combined to allow a total of nine runs in their 28 innings of work.

“First of all, Emma [Johnson] is a big part of that,” head coach Karen Linder said. “Also, Lauren McNeil is a junior, and I’ve seen a lot of growth from where she was a year ago as a sophomore, and that’s just maturity on her part.”

Another aspect the Flashes will look to build on was an offense that, after scoring only four runs two weekends ago, scored 15 in its five games last weekend.

“I hope that they’ll continue to improve,” Linder said. “I think we averaged about eight runners left on base in the five games that we played over the weekend, which is a huge positive.”

Kent State’s first opponent will be the Leathernecks of Western Illinois. The Leathernecks may be fighting some rust, as they’ve had six games canceled on the season, including all four they were scheduled to play last weekend. Although they enter with a 2-5 record, their losses include a 21-0 drubbing at the hands of Alabama and a 12-4 loss to Iowa.

After the conclusion of the first game, the Flashes will take on the North Carolina A&T Aggies. The Aggies enter the game with a 1-9 record, but much like the Leathernecks, they’ve fallen victim in some lopsided losses. They’ve lost by scores of 12-0, 17-0 and 20-0.

On Saturday, the Flashes begin the day with a 1 p.m. game against the No. 24 Georgia Bulldogs. Despite a 12-7 record, many of Georgia’s wins have come on its home field. When it comes to playing on a neutral field, Georgia is just 1-4 on the season. Their only trip to a neutral site was two weeks ago when they played in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, and after winning their first game, the Bulldogs not only lost their next four games, but they were also shutout three straight times and lost the finale by a dozen runs.

Immediately following the Georgia game, Kent State will face host Winthrop. The Eagles enter the weekend with a 7-10 record. Offense has been a struggle for Winthrop, as they’ve been held to three runs or fewer 10 times so far this season.

The finale for the Flashes is Sunday morning against Delaware State. The Hornets are 1-7 entering the weekend. Much like Winthrop, offense has been an issue for the Hornets, as they’ve been limited to three runs or fewer in six of their eight games on the season. Unlike the Flashes, the pitching rotation has been a struggle for Delaware State, as their pitchers have a cumulative ERA of 6.18 on the season. Opponents are averaging a 2.38 ERA against them.

Linder said the big key to having a successful weekend was continuing to put everything together. She also continued to stress the importance of offensive consistency.

“I think if we can start getting to the point where we’re putting four or five runs on the board, we’re going to come away with a lot of wins this season,” Linder said.

First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday in Rock Hill, S.C.

Contact Christian Petrila at [email protected].