Tournament play keeps KSU on road

Deanna Stevens

Along with pitching, catching and hitting, the Kent State softball team has been getting a lot of practice in bag packing.

The Flashes (9-8) have been playing in tournaments all over the country in order to prepare for the start of Mid-American Conference play March 30.

“We understand it’s a new year,” coach Karen Linder said. “It’s a different year and we are going to be faced with different challenges.”

As the reigning MAC-Tournament champions, Linder said the Flashes are no longer the underdog, but the target. She added that playing some of the toughest teams in the country, like No. 23 Hawaii, would only help the Flashes during conference play.

Kent State started their season in mid-February at the Greensboro Tournament, where they compiled four-straight wins.

Even though Flashes were in North Carolina, they could not get too far away from the MAC, beating Ohio 8-1 in the first game of the season.

The Flashes followed up that tournament with a trip to Kentucky for the Louisville Tournament. There they faced off with Kansas and Iowa.

The highlight of the Louisville Tournament was a 4-1 win over Kansas, which gave the Flashes their fifth consecutive win. Kent State then fell to Iowa, 5-2, and Kansas, 4-0, to end the tournament.

At the Hawaiian Tournament, the Flashes lost five of seven games. All of Kent State’s losses were by two runs or less, however.

“Even though we don’t have the wins,” Linder said, “we have the confidence to know we can play with the top teams in thecountry.”

They did have some success against St. Mary’s College (Calif.), winning both match ups 3-1 and 9-0.

The Flashes just returned from last weekend’s South Florida Tournament. They split four games, winning against Rhode Island, 10-0, and Long Island, 4-3.

“It was a good test for us from a mental stand point,” Linder said.

Kent State started the trip with a 6-1 loss to UNLV and ended with a 3-1 loss to Wisconsin.

The Flashes will head back to Florida for the Stetson Tournament, their final intra-league tournament of the season. They will face Princeton, Cornell and Liscomb over the weekend.

Contact softball reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].