Flashes softball prepares to open season


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

The weather may be as cold as it has been all winter, but that won’t slow down the Kent State softball team as they prepare for another season on the diamond.

An extremely young Flashes team prepares to travel to the Auburn Invitational, where the season begins with a three-day, four-game event where the Flashes will be joined by host Auburn, Army, Austin Peay, East Tennessee State and Furman.

“I think what we’ve gotta do is play confidently and we have to trust ourselves and understand we’re not gonna be perfect the first time out,” Flashes coach Karen Linder said.

The Flashes went 27-30 (11-11 in the Mid-American Conference) in 2012 and went 1-2 in the conference tournament before being eliminated by Miami. However, there is plenty of optimism entering the new season surrounding the Flashes.

Many of the key players from last season are returning, including the team’s batting average leader Dani Ramos and Abbey Ledford, who led the team in RBI.

“Abbey is going to move up in the batting order,” Linder said. “She’s been batting well and showing a lot of leadership.”

The Flashes also bring back all three starting pitchers from last season, including Emma Johnson, who went 16-15 with a 2.27 ERA.

“Emma did a really nice job last year as a freshman pitcher, and I think this year she has a chance to be even better,” Linder said. “She really has more weapons this year, so we’re definitely going to rely on her on the mound.”

Joining the returning cast is a group of 10 freshmen who Linder says will contribute plenty this season, including catcher Erika Warren.

“Erika Warren, the catcher, is a player beyond her years,” Linder said. “She’s had a lot of experience and won a state title last season (at Hoover).”

Other freshmen Linder said would have an impact were Shelbi Tilton, Kim Granata and Michele Duffy. She also said that the freshmen would bring depth and give the team the opportunity to use many different lineups.

On top of competing for a MAC title, there’s another thing the Flashes will be aiming for. Last season, Kent State had the third-highest team GPA in the country as the team put together a 3.645 mark.

“I’m so excited and so proud of what we accomplished and all the credit goes to our players and the academic support staff at Kent State,” Linder said.

Should they build on the momentum they gained last season and take advantage of so many returning players, this could be a very special spring for the Flashes both on the diamond and in the classroom.

Contact Christian Petrila at [email protected].