A friendly rivalry for Flashes

Deanna Stevens

During summer, Radara McHugh, Kent State pitching coach, and Akron assistant coach Tracee McCoy will be in the same dugout as teammates on the Akron Racers, the National Pro Fastpitch franchise.

But today, the teammates will be on opposite sides of the diamond, in a Mid-American Conference showdown when the Kent State softball team hosts Akron in a doubleheader at 1 p.m.

“It won’t affect the game at all,” McHugh said about the relationship with McCoy. “During the (Racers) season, we joke about the schools, and who did better, though.”

But the connection between the Flashes (17-13, 4-0 MAC) and the Zips (9-14, 1-3 MAC) doesn’t end with the assistant coaches. Akron coach Julie Jones said that she and Kent State coach Karen Linder are good friends.

“Just the closeness of the teams will put a different spin on the game,” Jones said.

Jones added that the rivalry is another aspect that puts a twist to the game.

“It’s a great college rivalry between our two institutions,” Jones said. “Everyone knows that the Kent and Akron game is a big one.”

The match up against Akron will be the home opener for the Flashes, although they were scheduled to play Cleveland State April 4. That game was postponed because of weather.

Inconvenient weather has been an obstacle for both teams. Kent State played its first games in nearly two weeks at No. 35 Penn State on Wednesday. They lost 3-0 in game one of the doubleheader and 3-1 in the second.

“I thought we did a good job competing against a very good team after being off for a week and a half,” Linder said. “Its disappointing that we lost both games, but considering the circumstances, I think we did a good job.

“Our pitchers weren’t as sharp as they normally are because they hadn’t seen batters in nearly a week and a half.”

Kent will also face Ohio this weekend. The Flashes beat the Bobcats, 8-1, in the Greensboro (N.C.) tournament in the first game of the season.

“They pose a different threat than the other teams that we’ve faced in that they have a couple of good drop ball pitchers,” Linder said.

The Flashes will host the Bobcats at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Kent State softball stadium.

Contact softball reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].