Softball seniors looking for more than last season

Thomas Gallick

Team’s mind already on the tournament while atop the MAC

The seniors on the Kent State softball team won a Mid-American Conference regular season championship last year, but they are making a statement early in conference play that one is not enough.

Senior shortstop Jessica Toocheck said the seniors want to end their final season with a bang and, of course, a MAC Championship.

“We just want to go out big and make a big impact,” Toocheck said. “This is our last season and our last games to play so we hope to end on a good note and go as far as we can.”

The team (24-8) is on pace for its goal of a repeat regular season conference championship, as it sits atop the MAC standings at 7-1 after sweeps of Akron and Ohio last weekend.

This senior class has already left its stamp on the record books with three players (Toocheck, first baseman Jamie Fitzpatrick and centerfielder Kim Hamilton) already assured top-four finishes in career home runs. Fitzpatrick is the Flashes’ all-time home run leader with 32, while Hamilton has 24 and Toocheck has 23.


1. KENT STATE 24-8 (7-1 MAC)

2. Miami 15-17 (6-2 MAC)

3. Bowling Green 4-18 (4-2 MAC)

4. Ohio 15-14 (3-5 MAC)

5. Akron 12-24 (2-6 MAC)

6. Buffalo 3-19 (1-3 MAC)

Coach Karen Linder said the careers of her three senior power hitters have been impressive, but the effort from senior pitcher Gabrielle Burns and senior leftfielder Corey Houk over their careers has been equally important to the team’s success. Burns (11-3) is the team’s ERA (1.05) and shutout (5) leader on the year, while Houk has 2 home runs and 10 RBI on the season.

“Corey is sometimes overshadowed by (her senior teammates), but she has the same competitiveness, the same athleticism and she has really made a difference in our program,” Linder said. “Gabe has made a big difference on the mound (this season).”

Linder said it will be impossible to replace the five seniors on this team and duplicate the impact they have on Kent State softball.

“Those five kids have really been instrumental in our program going from one of the best programs in the East division of the MAC to now being considered one of the best teams in the region,” Linder said. “It’s because of what those five kids have done from their freshman year moving up to through their senior year. That class is going to be one of the most outstanding classes to have ever graduated from Kent State.”

Fitzpatrick said the seniors are striving to finish their athletic careers on top this season, as none of the players have expressed interest in playing softball at the professional level.

“(Our goal for our senior year) is to have no regrets and give it everything we’ve got,” Fitzpatrick said. We only have (four) weeks left to play and then we’re done. You can go play professionally if you want, but it’s really not in any of our future plans.”

The Flashes will play a doubleheader today at Western Michigan, and then travel to play Saturday and Sunday at Northern Illinois. Kent State leads the Broncos 34-26 in the all-time softball series, and trails Northern Illinois 13-1 all time.

Contact sports reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected].