Mid-American Conference regular season championship still not enough for softball

Thomas Gallick

The Kent State Softball team secured its third straight 30-plus win season this weekend, but the players know regular season dominance does not always equal postseason success.

The Flashes won the Mid-American Conference regular season championship last year after going 30-17, but were knocked out of the MAC Tournament after three games.

With a tournament record of 1-2 after losing only three conference games in the regular season, the Flashes finished sixth in the MAC.


1. Kent State 31-9, 14-2 MAC

2. Bowling Green 12-20, 10-3

3. Miami 19-21, 9-5

4. Ohio 18-19, 5-9

5. Akron 15-31, 4-10

6. Buffalo 5-27, 2-10

Coach Karen Linder said the disappointing finish to last year’s postseason still acts as motivation for the returning players on the team.

“I don’t think we’re going to underestimate anybody (in the MAC) because we learned our lesson last year,” Linder said. “I think this team is extremely motivated.”

Senior left fielder Corey Houk said the team cannot afford to play with less intensity against teams with worse records in the MAC.

“(We need to) just take every opponent one step at a time,” Houk said. “(We need to) play at our level and don’t go to theirs. Last year we did underestimate our opponent and they beat us. (We were) disappointed because we knew we were the better team there.”

Linder said the team set its sights on winning regular and postseason titles in the MAC since the end of the final game last season.

“We’ve talked about (and) set our sights on doing two things: One is winning the regular season and two, winning the conference tournament,” Linder said. “I can’t even tell you the last time a team went into the conference tournament as the number one seed and won the tournament.”

The Flashes will have an out-of-conference tune-up today against Penn State. The doubleheader begins at 3 p.m. at the Kent State Softball field.

Penn State is already 2-0 against MAC teams this year with a 10-2 win against Toledo and a 14-3 win against Miami.

The series history goes surprisingly deep for the Flashes and Nittany Lions, who have met 32 times. Penn State leads the all-time series 18-14 and has swept the Flashes in the last two seasons.

Linder said the team needs to focus on getting hits and keeping Penn State’s baserunners from controlling the tempo of the game.

“The Big Ten is one of the better conferences out there,” Linder said. “(Penn State) usually has pretty decent pitching (and) they’re pretty aggressive on base paths.”

Penn State comes into the game after splitting a series with Ohio State last weekend in Columbus.

Contact sports reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected].