Softball ends non-conference season with loss, sits starters

Brad Tansey

Linder wants backups to get experience before MAC tournament

With the usual starters sitting out, the Kent State softball team finished up its non-conference season yesterday with a 7-3 loss to Robert Morris.

Kent State coach Karen Linder opted to sit the starters and give other players game experience.

“One of the reasons why I started them is that when we play non-conference games, I try to mix kids that aren’t everyday starters in so that they get experience if you need to go to them in the MAC tournament,” Linder said. “I just wanted to give them a chance to show what they can do.”

Robert Morris jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning after sophomore catcher Sarah Capp ripped a two-run double to right-center field.

The Colonials (26-17, 13-6) scored again to make the score 3-0 in the top of the second after an RBI single by sophomore outfielder Allie Patton. The third run forced Kent State junior left-handed starting pitcher Markie Pozzuto from the game.

In the bottom of the second inning, Kent State scored three runs to tie the game. Junior catcher Ashlee Hein led off the inning with a solo homerun. The next batter, freshman first baseman Lauren Balodis, launched another solo homerun to left-center field. The homerun was Balodis’ first of her career. She was 2-for-4 on the day. Sophomore second baseman Sarah Starr added an RBI single.

“It felt pretty good to get that first one out of the way,” Balodis said. “It was an inside pitch, a changeup, so I had to wait on it. I wasn’t really thinking much, just looking to drive the ball.”

Robert Morris added another run in the top of the third inning after an RBI single by freshman first baseman Britta Grafton.

The Flashes’ defense proved strong throughout the game. In the top of the fifth inning, junior outfielder Holly Finchum and senior outfielder Lauren Brocklehurst made diving catches.

Linder said she was pleased with the way the defense played in the team’s loss.

“I think for the most part defensively we played really well,” she said. “I think the outfielders made some very nice diving catches.”

In the top of the sixth inning, Finchum made another diving catch, robbing Grafton of an extra base hit. The Colonials added three insurance runs after a two-run triple by Patton. Sophomore shortstop Jessica Calderone added an RBI single to make the score 7-3.

Kent State tried to rally in the bottom of the seventh after a double by junior third baseman Jessica Carmichael, but the next two batters struck out to end the game.

The Flashes left eight runners on base in the game. Linder said she was disappointed with the amount of strikeouts by hitters. Kent State batters struck out 11 times.

“I would have liked to see more clutch hits,” she said. “We had runners on base and every time we play, we shoot for eight hits. Usually with eight hits, we are expecting to score more than three runs.”

Sophomore pitcher Maleeya Coleman (1-1) took the loss for the Flashes. Coleman pitched 4 1/3 innings in relief of Pozzuto.

Linder said despite the loss, the team still has “great team chemistry.”

“The starters were very supportive of those other kids that were out there,” Linder said. “It’s hard to get everybody playing time, but yet they all get along and support each other. I think that’s part of the reason we’ve been so successful is that we have good team leadership and a very unselfish team.”

Contact sports correspondent Brad Tansey at [email protected].