Softball season opener an up and down weekend

Joe Harrington

The Kent State softball team began the season with an up-and-down type of weekend at the Carolina Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C. On Friday, the Flashes shut out their opponents with impressive play from two pitchers, sophomore Kylie Reynolds and freshman Markie Pozzuto. But on Saturday and Sunday, the Flashes went 0-3 and are now riding a three game losing streak.

Kent State defeated George Washington 1-0 on Friday in a game where Reynolds allowed just one hit and had 12 strikeouts. The Flashes scored the only run of the game after senior shortstop Jessica Toocheck stole home in the sixth inning. Coach Karen Linder said she was impressed by the pitching performance, but the offense still needs improvement.

“We played very well, I’m pretty pleased where our pitchers are,” Linder said. “From an offensive standpoint, I think we can do a little bit better job of hitting.”

In the second game on Friday, Pozzuto pitched a five-inning no-hitter in a 9-0 victory over North Carolina Central. Pozzuto had 10 strikeouts and struck out the side in the first inning of her college career. Freshman Jess Carmichael went 4-4, including two home runs and five RBIs, while Ashlee Hein added a two-run home run. Hein and Carmichael each homered in the fourth inning.

On Saturday, the Flashes failed to carry over the momentum from Friday’s wins as they lost to East Carolina and North Carolina.

Kent State lost to East Carolina 2-1 in the opening game behind senior pitcher Gabrielle Burns, who gave up six hits over six innings and allowed two earned runs. The game came down to the final inning, when senior Kim Hamilton led off the seventh inning with a solo home run cutting the lead to 2-1. Kent State loaded the bases, but a Carmichael ground ball failed to get through the middle of the infield and the game was over.

“We were inches away from winning that game,” Linder said in a statement after the game.

The Flashes then lost to North Carolina 6-3 later that afternoon. The Tarheels took advantage of a second-inning error that allowed them to score three unearned runs after a Tarheel home run. Reynolds allowed three earned runs and struck out five, while Pozzuto came on in relief to strikeout three hitters. Hamilton continued to play well, hitting a three-run home run in the fifth inning to make the score 3-3. The Tarheels scored all their runs with two outs.

The Flashes played East Carolina again on Sunday morning, and again they came up short by one run. The Flashes lost to the Pirates 3-2. The Flashes scored their only runs of the game after senior Corey Houk hit a two-run home run in the top of the second. The Pirates were led by sophomore pitcher Toni Paisley, who had a 1.57 ERA for the weekend.

Reynolds, last season’s pitcher of year in the Mid-American Conference, struck out nine hitters and allowed six hits. The Pirates hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning. East Carolina took the lead in the sixth inning after a leadoff home run by senior Erin St. Ledger.

Kent State failed to bring the tying run home in the seventh inning for the second time in two days.

“They were tough losses, but we played pretty well from a defensive standpoint,” Linder said. “I felt like one clutch hit in either one of those (Saturday and Sunday) games and we would have won.”

Contact assistant sports editor Joe Harrington at [email protected].