Lights out

Marcus Barkley

Sophomore ace leads Flashes three-pronged pitching attack

Sophomore Kylie Reynolds pitches against Ball State April 18. In her second season with the Flashes, Reynolds has been strong with a 18-4 record. File photo by Daniel Owen | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

In a rotation where the average season earned run average stands at an impressive mark of 1.31, you have to be a special kind of pitcher to stand out on the Kent State softball team’s pitching rotation. Sophomore Kylie Reynolds is that kind of pitcher.

“It’s awesome to be able to have a pitcher like Kylie because you know she’s going to be able to strike out a lot of the opposing batters,” coach Karen Linder said. “You know that it doesn’t matter if the bases are loaded and no one’s out – you’re still confident she can get you out of that inning without giving up a run.”

Reynolds said it’s great to be able to pitch in a rotation as strong as the Flashes’ and know that she does not have to carry the burden on her own.

The Game

Kent State (34-10) at

Cleveland State (28-13)

When: 4:00 p.m.

Where: Viking Field, Cleveland

“It’s a relief to be able to throw in a rotation with (senior Gabrielle Burns and freshman Markie Pozzuto),” Reynolds said. “It’s nice to know someone has my back – that if I’m not getting the job done, someone can.”

Reynolds leads the Flashes with a record of 18-4 and an ERA of 1.34. The 18 wins include seven shutouts and one no-hitter on April 13 against Northern Illinois. She has won 11 straight games and was named Mid-American Conference East Division pitcher of the week three times.

Reynolds said the honors and accomplishments are nice, but she is much more excited to pitch well and get the team wins as the season winds down.

“I just try to take it one game at a time and just pull through, but my big focus now (and the team’s focus) is getting shutouts,” Reynolds said. “It’s obviously a big thing to get wins by shutting a team down and not letting them score.”

Numbers like Reynolds’ are nothing new. Since she first put on the blue and gold last season, Reynolds has been a force on the mound for the Flashes. In her freshman year, Reynolds broke the single season strikeout record by fanning 17 batters two separate times last season. Also last season, she won a team-high 14 games while receiving honors as MAC pitcher of the year, MAC Freshman of the Year, All-MAC first team member and Mid-East Region All second team member.

Reynolds said that this year has been easier because she is not transitioning into college life and has found her comfort zone as the top pitcher on the conference’s top team, but it’s difficult because she knows the team is counting on her.

“It’s more of a challenge this year when it comes to softball,” Reynolds said. “One thing I’ve realized is that people know what to expect of me now – it’s not like no one knows who I am anymore on the scouting reports or anything.”

Linder said it shows the talent level and resiliency of Reynolds in how she has been able to continue her dominance on the mound and not succumb to an early season sophomore slump of sorts.

“Kylie did have an adjustment to make at the beginning of this year and didn’t start the way she would have wanted,” Linder said. “She had to fight through a lot of things and I’m really proud of how she made that transition (from a freshman to a sophomore).”

Reynolds is a transplant from Greensboro, Ga. She said she was excited to have some friends from home come to Kent to hang out this semester because she only comes home during the large breaks.

Reynolds said she enjoys hanging out with her friends at Kent State and on the team during her time off and jokingly said studying was her other favorite hobby. Reynolds said she enjoys watching “The Hills” and “Grey’s Anatomy” with her teammates on Monday nights as a consistent activity away from the diamond.

Reynolds said her favorite music is Rhythm and Blues but she turns to something a little more fast-paced to get going before a game.

“I listen to a lot of R&B,” Reynolds said. “But when I’m getting pumped up for a game, it’s always rap music.”

Contact sports reporter Marcus Barkley at [email protected].