Softball weekend recap against MAC play


Abbey Ledford, sophomore 2nd and 3rd baseman, slids safely back into 1st base during saturdays game against eastern michigan, march 31. The flashes came out with a win 6-1. Photo by Emily Martin.

John Dvozenja

After a shaky 13-15 season start for the Kent State softball team, the Flashes began Mid-American Conference play 4-1 after sweeping Central Michigan and splitting two games against Eastern Michigan.

The home stand brings a warm welcome for not only the players, but also for the coaching staff.

“We have been on the road since the middle of February,” Flashes coach Karen Linder said. “It is nice to play at home because we are at a point where we are more rested. We also get into more of a routine in terms of playing double headers and single games at home.”

Friday (Game 1) — Kent State 5, Central Michigan 2

Game one of the double header against Central Michigan could have easily gone either way, being that both offenses had little offensive production.

Kent State was in dire need of a spark offensively and it all came in the fourth inning.

The Flashes gathered four of their five total hits in the inning thanks to a freshman Dani Ramos single, an error from the Chippewas, a three-run homerun from senior Jess Blanton, a double from senior Shannon Laughlin and the spur concluded with a 2-run homerun from senior Mary Holt.

“I’m really happy with how our team played today,” Linder said. “Though, we could have had more hits against their pitching.”

Holt and Blanton were the big bats in this matchup, and Linder was thrilled with their performance.

“Blanton has been a definite vocal leader and a leader by example,” Linder said. “She has performed extremely well in the clutch and in pressure situations. [Holt] has a great work ethic and she too has come in the clutch with big RBI hits.”

In terms of defense, the Flashes were flawless starting with freshman pitcher Emma Johnson. Johnson went the entire game, going seven strong innings, only giving up two earned runs, walking one and striking out five. Johnson improves to 8-8 for the season.

“Emma does a very good job against very good offensive teams,” Linder said. “She kept them off balance and when she put runners on base, she was able to get out of it.”

Friday (Game 2) — Kent State 3, Central Michigan 2

Game two was another nail-biter that came down again to a late offensive spark.

The Chippewas were all over Flashes’ sophomore pitcher Lauren McNeil, scoring two runs in the first inning on two hits and an error. McNeil was pulled after two innings of work.

“Central is a team that likes to hit pretty good pitching speed and McNeil has pretty good speed,” Linder said. “We thought that bringing Danielle [Abernathy] in would keep them a little off-balance.”

In the fifth inning, Ramos came in the clutch with a big RBI single to take the lead and would be the eventual game winner.

“Dani is doing a really nice job,” Linder said. “What I’m excited about is that she did it offensively and defensively. She’s been very focused and she’s been doing her job.”

Saturday — Kent State 6, Eastern Michigan 1

The Flashes made sure their first game against Eastern Michigan would not be as close as their games against Central Michigan.

The Flashes went on a tear in the fourth inning, totaling five hits and one defensive error by the Eagles of Eastern Michigan.

With the score tied at one, the offensive spree began with sophomore Abbey Ledford singling down the left field line. Sophomore Alex Marcantonio then singled to right. Senior Shannon Laughlin then doubled to left, scoring both Marcantonio and Ledford. Holt then slapped a single to right center scoring Laughlin. Holt would later score in the inning due to a throwing error by Eastern Michigan pitcher Jenna Ignowski.

Kent State later tacked on an extra run in the fifth with a run-batted in single from freshman Kim Kirkpatrick to close the score 6-1.

Sunday — Kent State 4, Eastern Michigan 7

The Flashes weren’t able to complete the four-game weekend sweep, losing to Eastern Michigan by three runs Sunday evening.

The pitching production wasn’t as sharp, and the defense was a bit lackadaisical.

“Pitching did hurt us,” Linder said. “But it was also the lack of defense. We bobbled the ball a couple times and made some bad throws.”

The Eagles tacked on three runs in the third inning after Flashes’ pitcher Lauren McNeil opened the inning up with back-to-back walks. A double and a costly error later, the Eagles were up 5-2.

“We hit the ball right at people,” Linder said. “We weren’t popping balls up; everything was good contact.”

The Flashes will get a couple days of rest before they have to take on Robert Morris University in a doubleheader at home.

“Although we lost today, I am very pleased with the way this team played this weekend,” Linder said.

Kent State’s next matchup is at home against Robert Morris. The first pitch of game one is scheduled to be thrown at 3 p.m. Wednesday with the start of the second game beginning shortly after the conclusion of game one.

Contact John Dvozenja at [email protected].