Flashes split weekend series at Duke Invitational

Amanda Levine Sports editor

Last weekend, Kent State softball struggled to drive in runs when players were on base. Friday and Saturday, at the Duke Invitational, the Flashes didn’t hesitate to score, outscoring their opponents 30-20. Kent State split its Duke Invitational, going 2-2 against Fordham, Lafayette, Howard and Duke.

Kent State 14 vs. Fordham 5 (F/6)

Kent State’s ability to capitalize on eight errors by Fordham led to a seven-run sixth inning. Three of Kent State’s seven runs in the innings were scored on two passed balls and a fielding error. 

The seven-run inning lifted Kent State past Fordham 14-5, snapping its six-game losing streak. 

Senior pitcher Madi Huck gave up four earned runs, one unearned, over six innings. After a fielding error and a two-run homer from the Rams’ Martine, Huck shut down Fordham’s offense. 

Over the last four innings, the right-handed pitcher gave up just four hits and struck out three. She finished the day with five strikeouts and three walks.

The Flashes combined for 17 hits over six frames, a season high for them. Kent State’s elite offense performance was led by junior right fielder Brenna Brownfield and senior first baseman Vanessa Vodan. The two Flashes combined for seven hits, three runs and three RBIs. Brownfield’s four hits and Vodan’s three hits were both career-highs. 

“Obviously we did a good job against the pitching we saw,” coach Eric Oakley said. “I’m pleased that we put up a lot of runs those first three games. We spread out around the whole team. Obviously Brenna and Kate both had spectacular weekends and they’re playing really well for us through our first 18 games, which is great, but I felt like there were some other people that stepped up this weekend too, which is nice.”

Four Flashes had two or more RBIs, as Olivia Sborlini led Kent State with three after launching a three-run homer in the top of the sixth. It was her first of the season.

“Olivia had a nice home run. … She had a pretty good weekend this weekend. She had the home run. … Her at-bats are looking a lot better,” Oakley said. 

Kent State 9 vs. Lafayette 10

The Flashes’ offensive surge continued in their second game of Friday’s double-header. Kent State put up six runs over the first two innings.

On a handful of errors, the Flashes were able to continue capitalizing on their opponent’s mistakes, but a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh from Malori Pojar led Lafayette past Kent State, 10-9.

Freshman pitcher Gabbie Sherman allowed seven runs, two earned, in her first collegiate start. She walked three over 1 ⅔ innings. Anilese Kelly and Huck came in for relief, combining to throw 4 ⅓ innings and giving up three runs on three hits.

Another multi-hit game from Brownfield and infielder Kaitlyn Miller and two hits and an RBI from centerfielder Maria Cegledy led to a nine-hit performance for the Flashes.

Kent State 6 vs. Howard 2

For the third time this season, Kent State faced off against Howard. Shortstop Sabrina Kerschner led the Flashes with three hits as Kent State racked up 12 hits against Howard. 

The 12-hit performance and a complete game from redshirt sophomore Andrea Scali led a Flashes 6-2 win over the Bison. Kent State has now outscored Howard 23-4 this season in three matchups.

In her first start of the Duke Invitational, Scali gave up one run and one unearned run on three hits. She pitched seven dominant innings, striking out eight and giving up only three walks.

“Having the advantage of having seeing their batting order a couple of times, who do you attack and who to avoid a little bit … I think all three of her walks were four straight balls,” Oakley said. “So those situations, I mean you can really see the difference. Later on in the game she was down 3-0 on a batter and she came all the way back. I think some of it is she’s still working on some of the control stuff. Some of it is you; you’re also trying to get certain pitches to work for you and the umpire is just not seeing them.”

Brownfield led the Flashes in RBIs with two, while Kerschner, Miller and left fielder Madyson Cole drove in one run each. 

Kent State 1 vs. Duke 3

After scoring six or more runs in Kent State’s last three games, the Flashes could only score once against the Duke Blue Devils.

The lone run for the Flashes came from Cole in the top of the seventh. Her ground-out to short drove in Brooklyn Whitt in a 3-1 loss to Duke. 

Junior pitcher Peyton St. George shut down the Flashes’ offense, giving up four hits over seven innings. George struck out six and only gave up one walk.

Duke’s three runs came in the first two innings off of Huck. After the second, the right-handed pitcher limited Duke to just one hit over her last two innings pitched. Grace Suape pitched two innings of relief and gave up no hits, striking out one. 

“She pitched fantastic. She was pitching well. We felt like we got out of her what we wanted to get out of her. We didn’t want to push it, with MAC [Mid-American Conference] games coming up,” Oakley said.

The Flashes’ next game will be at the OU Tournament hosted by Oklahoma University. Kent State will play No. 6 Oklahoma, University of Houston and New Mexico State. 

Amanda Levine is a sports editor. Contact her at [email protected].