After slow start, baseball team playing consistently

Rachel Jones

Flashes win 10 of last 14 games to reach .500

Flashes win 10 of last 14 games to reach .500

After a rocky start this season, the Kent State baseball team is starting to get the swing of things.

The Flashes (15-15, 4-2 Mid-American Conference) started out losing 11 of their first 16 games. Since then the team has won 10 out of its last 14 and leads the MAC East. Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said this is usually how seasons start out.

“I think it’s pretty typical for early season struggles from teams in the north,” Stricklin said. “We went into this doing good at times, and we’ve played poorly at times. We’re a little inconsistent, but I’m encouraged by the way that we played (Sunday against Western Michigan).”

Kent State defeated Duquesne yesterday by a score of 5-0 to get back to the .500 mark. Junior Brennan Glass got his second win of the season allowing only two hits in four innings.

Today, the Flashes take on Pittsburgh (19-6) at 3 p.m. at Schoonover Stadium. The teams have not played each other since the 2008 season.

On Sunday, the Flashes buried Western Michigan, 14-4. Stricklin said the win provided a major confidence boost.

“The last six innings of Sunday’s game was the best that KSU’s played all year long,” he said. “Hopefully, we can take that and use it as momentum to keep going.”

Stricklin said the games played in the middle of the week tend to be easier for the Flashes to handle.

“Those are non-conference games, so a lot of times the pitching you see from other team(s) isn’t going to be as good,” he said. “In order for us to win in the middle of the week, we need to score a lot of runs.”

Stricklin said taking notes from Sunday’s game will also help the team win today.

“We need to do what we did this past weekend, which is swing the bat really well and play great defense,” Stricklin said. “If we do that, then I like our chances.”

The Flashes have been switching up the offensive lineup, but Stricklin said he feels they have it figured out.

“Early in the season, you let a lot of guys play and see who steps up,” he said. “Now we’re pretty much in the mode of we know who our guys are and those are the guys who are going to continue to play.”

Sophomore shortstop Jimmy Rider stepped up early in the season as the team’s leading hitter.

“I don’t think anyone has been as consistent as they’d like to be except for Jimmy,” Stricklin said. “He’s probably the guy who’s playing the best and playing more consistent than anybody we’ve got.”

Freshman second baseman Evan Campbell did not play much in the beginning of the season. He stepped in when another player was injured and hasn’t left the lineup since.

“Jimmy is our most consistent player, but Evan Campbell’s been pretty darn close to being there, too,” Stricklin said. “He really plays well for a freshman and has really stepped up and given our team a really big spark.”

Stricklin said if all of the players can play this way, the rest of the season should be successful.

“That’s all you can do: try to be consistent and play hard,” Stricklin said. “We have a lot of talented guys on our team. The thing that any coach looks for is consistency and that’s what I hope to see more of throughout the rest of the week.”

Notes: Sophomore catcher David Lyon was named Mid-American Conference East player of the week. Lyon hit two home runs in Kent State’s 14-4 win over Western Michigan. Over the span of last week, Lyon was 8-for-20 with two doubles, two home runs, 11 RBIs and six runs scored.

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Rachel Jones at [email protected].