Cleaning up on the road

Thomas Gallick

Strong pitching gives Flashes the sweep at Akron and Ohio

Freshman Maria Conti celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run against Akron in the second game of their doubleheader. The Flashes swept the Roos, winning their first game 4-3 and their second game 12-1. The Flashes also went on to sweep Ohio Uni

Credit: Ron Soltys

The Kent State softball team capped off a big weekend yesterday with a 1-0 win in Athens over Ohio, the team’s seventh consecutive Mid-American Conference win.

One unearned run was all the Flashes (24-8, 7-1 MAC) needed to complete a sweep of the Bobcats and a 4-0 weekend in conference play. Senior first baseman Jamie Fitzpatrick hit a pop fly, which Ohio senior shortstop Amanda Sacks mishandled, allowing senior centerfielder Kim Hamilton to score.

Coach Karen Linder said the team could have scored more runs today if they had a few more hits with runners in scoring position.

“We put runners on base all day today,” Linder said. “We just didn’t come through with clutch hits or back-to-back hits. I’m not really concerned about our offensive performance.”

The only Kent State batter with more than one hit on the day was Lauren Brocklehurst, sophomore right fielder and infield single specialist, who had two. She leads the team with a .343 batting average, but has not recorded an RBI or extra-base hit in 70 at-bats.

The offense didn’t need to produce more than one run yesterday thanks to a three-hit shutout from sophomore pitcher Kylie Reynolds (12-4), her fourth shutout of the season. Reynolds also struck out nine Bobcats in seven innings of work.

Watch a slideshow of the softball team’s game from the weekend.

Reynolds said she and senior pitcher Gabrielle Burns both feel confident in their abilities to shut down teams in MAC play.

“We’re working together really well,” Reynolds said. “It’s nice to know there’s always someone there to have your back.”

The Flashes won the first game in their series with Ohio 3-0 Saturday on the strength of a two-hit shutout thrown by Burns. With the win, Burns’ record improved to 11-3 and her conference and team-leading ERA fell to a minuscule 1.05.

Ohio’s starter, freshman Emily Wethington, took a no hitter into the fourth inning when Fitzpatrick hit a single with two outs. The Flashes broke up her shutout when senior shortstop Jessica Toocheck and Fitzpatrick hit back-to-back homeruns in the sixth inning.

Fitzpatrick has four homeruns this season and sits in first place in Kent State history with 32 in her career. Toocheck’s homerun, her fifth of the season and 23rd of her career, puts her in fourth place in career homeruns.

On Friday the Flashes swept the rival Akron Zips in a doubleheader marked by cold temperatures and two rain delays. Kent State won a close first game, 4-3, holding off the Zips’ offensive attack in the final two innings.

Reynolds recorded the win in the first game, but needed relief help from Burns, who earned her second save of the season after two innings of relief work.

Burns inherited two runners and no outs when she entered the game in the sixth and struck out the side. Akron loaded the bases and scored a run in the seventh, but Burns struck out her fifth batter in two innings to secure the win.

“Gabe did a very nice job,” Linder said. “That was an extremely difficult situation coming in (with two runners on) and she got out of it and pitched with a lot of confidence in that inning.” Linder said.

The next game was never close, as the Flashes opened the game with a three-run first inning and finished the game up 12-1.

Sophomore designated hitter Leah Archual had three hits and 2 RBIs in the game and freshman first baseman Maria Conti had her first career homerun pinch hitting for the Flashes in the fifth.

Burns pitched for the Flashes in the second game, giving up only two hits, including a solo homerun to Akron’s junior designated hitter Julie Boyes. Burns struck out 10 Zips in the game.

Burns gave credit to the offense for giving her ample runs support for her start in the second game.

“I feel like I can breathe when I go out there (after the offense scores),” Burns said. “One run’s better than nothing, so I’m just excited if we can score early like that. It definitely makes me able to relax a little bit more.”

Since losing to Bowling Green in the opening game of MAC play, the Flashes are unbeaten and have shut out their opponents four times. Linder said the team goes into every conference game with enough confidence to come out with a victory.

“(Our success in the MAC) is kind of what we expected,” Linder said. “We expect to win conference games. The thing that was nice about this weekend is that we won in a variety of ways.”

This weekend in Softball


Kent State 4 Akron 3

Kent State 12 Akron 1


Kent State 3 Ohio 0


Kent State 1 Ohio 0

NOTE: Senior pitcher Gabrielle Burns and sophomore pitcher Kylie Reynolds both shut out Ohio in the Flashes’ sweep of the Bobcats. It was Burns’ fifth shutout and Reynolds fourth on the season.

Contact sports reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected].