Over the fence, another record

Thomas Gallick

Three softball seniors are slugging their way toward the all-time home run lead

Softball seniors (L to R) Jessica Toocheck, Jamie Fitzpatrick and Kim Hamilton are enjoying a strong last season with a record of 10-2. Tracy Tucholski | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Step one: check record books.

Step two: rub eyes.

Step three: check record books again.

The statistics don’t lie and it isn’t an optical illusion – three seniors on the Kent State softball team: first baseman Jamie Fitzpatrick, center fielder Kim Hamilton and shortstop Jessica Toocheck – are all already in the top four in career home runs and can finish one, two and three by the end of this season.

The Flashes, a team often recognized for its dominating pitching rotation of senior Gabrielle Burns and sophomore Kylie Reynolds, are a team with more than a little pop. Fitzpatrick already holds the record for most home runs in a career with 32.

Fitzpatrick said coach Karen Linder initially gave her the idea that she could break the all-time record her freshman year when she hit five home runs.

“It feels pretty good (to be the home run leader),” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s kind of a goal I had set in mind. It’s something I had in mind, but never really thought that I could achieve it until last year.”

Denae Jones, currently second place on the all-time home run list, was the previous record holder for the Flashes with 28 career blasts. Hamilton, who has 25 home runs in her career and Toocheck, who has 24, both look to pass Jones by the end of the season so the trio can finish one, two and three in the record books.

Fitzpatrick said having teammates with the same type of power is helpful because it pushes her to work harder.

“It definitely pushes you and challenges you every day,” Fitzpatrick said. “They’ve both had (great seasons) and are coming close.somewhat close to my record. It makes it exciting (because) pitchers can’t pitch around all three of us.”

Toocheck said she agreed that having three prolific power hitters in the lineup is beneficial to the whole team.

“It’s awesome because we definitely thrive off of one another, Toocheck said. “It’s awesome being able to play with that high of caliber of players.”

Toocheck, a slick-fielding shortstop, also has a chance to finish in the top-five in career batting average. She entered the season tied with Fitzpatrick for sixth place with a .314 average and is hitting .340 this season.




1. Jamie Fitzpatrick…32 (2005-present)

2. Denae Jones…26 (1997-2000)

3. Kim Hamilton…25 (2005-present)

3. Jessica Toocheck…24 (2005-present)

3. Brittney Robinson…19 (2004-2007)

Linder said Toocheck’s best quality is not her power or average, but her competitiveness and ability to impact the game on multiple levels.

“Toocheck is just a natural shortstop,” Linder said. “She’s just incredible at that position. Her attitude is ‘nothing’s getting by me.’

“She’s also that very competitive kid. She hates to lose, so if there’s a way in her power to find a way to win she’s going to impact the outcome of the game in a positive way, whether it’s defensively or offensively.”

Hamilton also brings more to the team than just power, as she possesses enough speed and savvy on the basepath to hit lead-off for the team.

“I don’t think that there’s a focus on (hitting home runs) between us,” Hamilton said. “We don’t really focus on that at all. We just focus on winning games. Coach always stresses back-to-back hits instead of big home runs.”

Linder said Hamilton is a unique player, because of her combination of speed on the basepaths and pop at the plate.

“Kim is just a very natural athlete who has the ability to play anywhere on the field,” Linder said. “She’s a very intense competitor … and she’s been a great lead-off hitter over the last four years for us because she’s got that combined power and speed that very few people have.”

This season, Hamilton leads the team in home runs, with seven, and steals, with 10 on 11 attempts. She also is third on the team in RBIs with 18, despite batting first.

Thanks in part to the power in the senior class, Kent State currently leads the Mid-American Conference in home runs. The Flashes have 29 bombs, while Toledo and Western Michigan sit tied in second with 19.

Linder said the team likes to hit with power, but never focuses too much on trying to clear the fence.

“I think they enjoy hitting home runs, but I don’t think that they’re always out there trying to hit home runs,” Linder said. “What has allowed us to be successful hitting home runs is we have really focused on improving our bat speed and our visual focus.”

Linder said she could never have predicted the three would impact the Kent State softball team the way they have.

“I thought that they were good athletes and I thought they would make a difference in our program, but for them to achieve what they’ve achieved offensively … it’s been just a joy to coach all three of them.”

Contact sports reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected].