Softball completes 4-0 weekend

Chris Gates

Flashes move above .500 after sweeping MAC foes

Junior second baseman Heather Duhon forces out an Ohio player at first base during Friday’s doubleheader. The Flashes won both games, 8-2 and 3-2. Kristina Deckert | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

For the first time in 57 days, the Kent State softball team is over .500.

The Flashes (17-16, 8-1 Mid-American Conference) beat Akron 5-1 yesterday at the Diamond at Dix to complete a two-game sweep of the Zips and a 4-0 weekend overall.

The four victories mark the longest winning streak of the season. After a 5-10 start, the Flashes have won 12 of their past 18 games and are in first place in the MAC.

“Since we started the MAC (schedule), we focused only on the MAC season,” junior pitcher Kylie Reynolds said. “We just pushed the earlier season behind us. We played a lot of good teams and didn’t get the wins that we would’ve liked. It’s nice to finally get our win-loss averages up.”

Reynolds pitched her third complete game of the season in the win over Akron, allowing just one run on five hits. She struck out six Akron batters, keeping the game scoreless through three innings.

In the bottom of the third inning, Kent State went on a two-out rally to score four runs and put the game out of reach.

Junior second baseman Heather Duhon hit a home run to left field to start the scoring. Then, after junior outfielder Leah Archual singled up the middle, sophomore outfielder Holly Finchum blooped a double in between Akron’s second baseman and center fielder. The ball fell between the two fielders and took an awkward bounce, allowing Finchum to advance to second.

With runners on second and third, sophomore infielder Jessica Carmichael worked the pitcher in to a full count. On the next pitch, she cleared the bases with a home run to left field.

“Our girls have really hit well since we’ve been in the MAC (schedule),” Reynolds said. “It’s been a big help, as a pitcher, knowing that you have a lead.”

Home runs were the theme of the entire weekend, as the Flashes started strong with six homers from six different batters in a Friday doubleheader against Ohio. Carmichael, Duhon and senior third baseman Kalie Germaine hit homers to beat Ohio 8-2 in game one.

In game two, sophomore catcher Ashlee Hein and seniors Chelsey Jones and Katie Wheeler each hit home solo home runs, with Wheeler’s proving to be the game-winner in a 3-2 win.

“I just think the kids are starting to feel comfortable,” Kent State coach Karen Linder said. “(They’re) seeing the ball really well.”

The Flashes beat Akron 3-2 on Saturday thanks to Hein’s bases-loaded, walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning. Reynolds pitched a complete game, giving up two runs on four hits and striking out four.

Kent State will look to extend its winning streak tomorrow when it plays a doubleheader at Penn State. The first game will begin at 3 p.m.

“Definitely, for us to be able to keep winning within the conference, it just continues to boost our confidence,” Linder said. “We’re finding different ways to win. Of late, our offense has been coming through for us. Especially the long ball.”

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