Softball team uses tough schedule to prepare for the MAC

Matt Lofgren

The Kent State softball team has had a rocky season thus far by posting a 9-16 record nearing the halfway point in its season.

In her 15th season as the head coach for the softball team, Karen Linder has built the program into a Mid-American Conference powerhouse. Currently, the Flashes have won the MAC East five consecutive years.

Kent State has won the MAC two times in the past three seasons.

The Flashes are experiencing effects from consecutive road trips.

To this point, every game the team has played has been on the road. The team is being tested after making long trips to North Carolina and Florida for tournaments.

Eight teams that the Flashes have played this season were in the NCAA tournament last season. The tough schedule has been essential for the team’s development as they prepare for the MAC season.

“Ultimately every year our number one goal is to peak during the MAC tournament because that’s how that bid to the NCAA tournament,” Linder said. “Our goal is to finish the year strong, but it’s also to win the regular season.”

Despite their losing record, half of the Flashes losses have been by one run. Five of those losses were in extra innings.

“We need to get better with our pitching and our defense,” Linder said. “Pitchers need to be a little bit more consistent as does our defense and we can do that and I think we can be very successful in the MAC.”

The Flashes have one of the best power hitters in the MAC in senior Jessica Carmichael. Currently, the third baseman is leading the MAC in homeruns with seven and also has a team high 26 RBIs.

Sophomore outfielder Lauren Grimes is one of the team’s best fielders with a 1.000 fielding percentage and 34 put-outs while senior Shannon Laughlin has registered a .994 fielding percentage with 150 put-outs and 160 catches.

Struggling with consistency with starting pitching, the only pitcher with a winning record is sophomore Danielle Abernathy with a 4-3 record and a 3.85 earned run average.

“From a pitching standpoint, we’re very inexperienced,” Linder said. “Even though we have a senior, a junior and a sophomore, they pitched very few innings last year.”

Freshman Lauren McNeil is the gem of the rotation for the Flashes. Despite a 2-7 record, McNeil has a team best 3.35 ERA and is the anchor of the staff and will be for years to come.

Run production has been reliable all season for the Flashes and coach Linder has found her best lineup.

“Very recently we have come into a lineup,” Linder said. “ The only position that will continue to fluctuate would be our designated player.”

The team will play its first home game on Wednesday at the University of Pittsburgh is in town for a double header.

Contact Matt Lofgren at [email protected].