Sweet sweep for softball team

Deanna Stevens

Kent State’s Kim Hamilton slides into second base during the game against Eastern Michigan Friday afternoon. Hamilton’s play was safe, helping Kent State to win 5-1. ALLIEY BENDER | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

The Kent State softball team completed its first Mid-American Conference sweep of the season against Central Michigan this weekend.

Kent State coach Karen Linder said the sweep is huge in the Flashes’ (14-18, 4-3 MAC) hunt for a MAC Championship.

“If you want a shot to win the conference title, you have to sweep people,” Linder said. “No matter who the team is, anytime you can sweep people it is a huge accomplishment.”

Beginning the weekend by splitting a doubleheader to Eastern Michigan, with a 5-1 win in the first game and a 3-2 loss in the second, Kent State earned its first win of the series against Central Michigan in a dominate fashion, with a 11-0 final in five innings.

Yesterday, the Flashes retained the momentum and held off a Chippewa (11-19, 2-4 MAC) comeback. The Flashes earned their second win of the series with a final score of 4-2.

Most of the Flashes’ damage was done in the second inning. Senior Ashley Ball hit a triple to right field, which scored seniors Ashley Fairhurst and Tashia Oliver, who was pinch-running for junior Megan Verde.

Linder said the hit was big for the Kent State offense.

“Ashley Ball had a huge clutch hit to score those two runs,” she said.

Then, a single by sophomore Corey Houk brought Ball home for the third run of the inning.

But unlike Saturday’s game, the Chippewas responded to the runs put up by the Flashes. In the top of the fourth inning, Central Michigan’s Lindsey Calme hit a two-run home run to bring the score to 3-2.

Yet the Chippewas were not the only team to respond to runs scored. The Flashes loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth, and a new Chippewa pitcher walked last week’s MAC East Division Player of the Week Jessica Toocheck, which brought home Ball for her second run of the game.

From there, the Flashes held the Chippewas scoreless and took home the win.

Junior pitcher Brittney Robinson had 12 strikeouts in seven innings and earned her second win of the series. She pitched all 12 innings against the Chippewas with 22 strikeouts, and is now 13-9 on the season.

Chippewa pitcher Jess Garvin took the loss, which leaves her at 4-4 this season.

“I think its a good win,” Linder said. “Yesterday (Saturday) we played extremely well, and I knew Central Michigan would come out fired up and they did.”

The game the Flashes played “extremely well” was the 11-0 shut-out.

Like yesterday’s game, the Flashes’ offense exploded early in the game. In the bottom of the first, Kent State scored seven runs off six hits.

Leading the Flashes was sophomore Kim Hamilton and Toochek, who both went 2-4 with two doubles a piece. Hamilton added an RBI, while Toochek had one run scored.

The Flashes’ top hitter, sophomore Jamie Fitzpatrick, who averages .312 this season went 1-2 and scored 2 runs. Fitzpatrick’s .312 average is second in the MAC.

But the major story of Saturday’s game was Robinson. In her third no-hitter of the season, she had 10 strikeouts. Those 10 strikeouts gave her 203 total on the season, which broke her record of 193 strikeouts in a single season, as well as made her the first Kent State pitcher to have over 200 strikeouts in a season.

Robinson said that breaking her record was great, but getting the victory was more important.

“It’s a lot about the team, I wasn’t too worried about my record today,” she said on Saturday’s victory.

Robinson was also 2-2 at the plate, with a single and a double, with two runs scored and one RBI.

Linder said Robinson’s pitching has been bringing a lot of momentum to the Kent State offense.

“Our defense feeds off her pitching, and her pitching feeds off our offense. A pitcher is able to relax when the team is putting runs on the board.”

Next up for the Flashes is a doubleheader at 1:00 p.m. on Friday at Ohio.

Contact softball reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].