Reynolds stifles CMU for two wins

Chris Gates

Softball sweeps Chippewas, EMU

Since the Kent State softball team started its Mid-American Conference schedule, the story behind the Flashes’ success has been a resurgent offense.

This weekend, the story changed.

Junior pitcher Kylie Reynolds allowed just three hits and struck out 21 batters as the Flashes (21-17, 12-1 MAC) beat Central Michigan 2-0 Saturday and 1-0 yesterday to complete a 4-0 weekend.

“She pitched with a lot of confidence and pretty much dominated Central Michigan,” Kent State coach Karen Linder said.

Reynolds recorded 11 of her 21 strikeouts in a complete-game one-hitter yesterday. The lone Central Michigan hit came after the Chippewas were no-hit through four innings.

“I was really comfortable this weekend,” Reynolds said. “I was really just trying to stay focused on staying ahead in the count. I knew that if I ever got behind they would capitalize on my mistakes.”

Kent State’s lone run came in the top of the second inning. Junior designated hitter Amy Hair was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Linder then sent junior outfielder Lauren Brocklehurst in to pinch-run, and Brocklehurst wasted little time before stealing second base.

Brocklehurst advanced to third on a bunt by senior outfielder Katie Wheeler and scored on a single by senior first baseman Chelsey Jones.

The combination of stellar pitching by Reynolds and strong defensive play prevented the Chippewas from advancing a runner into scoring position all day. That protected the Flashes’ lead and led to the 1-0 win.

“It was huge for (Reynolds) to be able to control them,” Linder said. “Our defense did a nice job behind her.

“There are going to be times we’re going to win because of our offense, there are going to be times we win because of our pitching and our defense. (Saturday and yesterday) was a case where our defense and pitching carried us.”

Jones was the quiet hero over the weekend, driving in the winning run on Saturday as well. Sophomore infielder Jessica Carmichael reached base on a single to left, then stole second and advanced to third on a groundout by sophomore catcher Ashlee Hein.

Linder again chose to substitute Brocklehurst as a pinch-runner after Hair walked. It paid off, as she stole second base. Jones then stepped to the plate and directed a single to left-field, driving in Carmichael.

“(Jones) had a great weekend,” Linder said. “She came through in clutch situations in all four games.”

Hair eventually crossed home plate as well when Central Michigan catcher Amanda Patrick tried to pick her off at third base. The ball skipped past the third baseman and into left field.

The Kent State bats were significantly more active Friday in a doubleheader at Eastern Michigan. The Flashes won game one 5-4 on nine hits from seven different batters.

The offense increased in game two, with an 11-2 win in five innings. Jones led the way again, hitting her second home run of the season and driving in three runs.

“Any time that you can go 4-0 in the MAC when you’re on an away weekend, it’s a great performance,” Linder said. “It’s very rare that any team is able to do that.

“I’m just happy that we stayed mentally strong and played good defense all weekend.”

Contact principal sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected].