Flashes victory against Bulls record-breaking

Deanna Stevens

Not only did the Kent State softball team sweep Buffalo this weekend, it recorded record-breaking results as well.

The Flashes (24-22, 12-5 Mid-American Conference) defeated the Bulls 8-0 in six innings yesterday. They did most of the damage in the third inning, in which they scored five runs on four hits and two Buffalo errors.

One of those errors was a wild pitch by the Bulls (12-39, 2-12 MAC) that allowed sophomore Kim Hamilton to steal home. The reigning MAC Player of the Week leads the team with 16 stolen bases on the season.

Sophomore Whitney Lebowitz was the second Flash to score, which was off a grounder by sophomore first baseman Jamie Fitzpatrick.

The second Buffalo error occurred during senior catcher Ashley Fairhurst’s at bat. With the bases loaded, Fairhurst hit a long fly ball to left field and two Buffalo players collided in pursuit of the catch. Both players fell to the ground and allowed three Flashes to score.

At the start of the sixth inning, Hamilton put the game away with a home run to left-center field. The long ball not only ended the game, but also put Kent State in the record books once again. It broke the MAC record for most home runs by a team in one season, totaling 41, and was previously held by Akron in 2002.

At the beginning of the season, Kent State coach Karen Linder said she believed the team could break the school’s record but never gave a thought to the MAC.

“When the kids saw it was in our reach, they really went after it,” Linder said.

Junior pitcher Brittney Robinson struck out 14 Buffalo players for her 22nd win of the season. She now has a total of 342 strikeouts on the season and 559 for her career, which broke yet another Kent State record that was set by Kate Leary from 2001 to 2004.

Linder said all the records being broken this season motivates the team to try harder.

“It has motivated them to go after (the records),” Linder said. “It also gives us confidence to know that we have those abilities.”

Saturday, the Flashes set themselves up to break all the records they did in their second game against the Bulls.

Kent State beat Buffalo, 11-1, in five innings in the first meeting.

The runs were distributed more evenly in this game, starting with a home run by Hamilton in the first inning.

In the second, senior Ashley Ball scored off a double by sophomore Corey Houk. Fairhurst scored on the only error by the Bulls, while Houk stole home on a wild pitch.

Robinson and Fairhurst each had sacrifice fly balls to score freshman Dani Monson and Ball.

In the top of the fourth, the Bulls scored their only run off of a fielder’s choice.

Linder said the team was “mentally strong” during the fourth inning because it stopped Buffalo from scoring its other two runners on base.

Hamilton was the only Kent State player to score in the fourth inning, which was off a walk on Ball.

Coming off of her game-winning home run against Western Michigan last week, Jessica Toocheck followed the performance with a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning. The sophomore shortstop led the Flashes by going 3 of 4, with one run scored and four RBIs.

The grand slam is Kent State’s second of the season, after one from Fitzpatrick earlier this season.

Kent State heads to Akron’s Firestone Stadium 7 p.m. tommorrow to face Cleveland State.

Contact softball reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].