Flashes extend winning streak to five

Sean Ammerman

The Kent State softball team extended its winning streak to five games yesterday, sweeping Youngstown State in a doubleheader 6-3 and 12-6.

This marks the team’s longest winning streak of the season and its eighth win out of the last 10 games.

“I think we’re starting to put it all together more consistently than we have all season,” Kent State coach Karen Linder said. “We’re actually starting to hit the ball really well and we’re starting to back that up with good solid pitching and defense.”

Kent State junior starting pitcher Brittney Robinson continued her roll of near-flawless pitching, keeping Youngstown State scoreless in four innings with one hit and 10 strikeouts in game one. In game two, Linder brought Robinson in for the save, closing the game with two more scoreless innings. It has now been 24.2 innings since an opposing team has been able to squeeze in a run against her.

“She’s got four different pitches that keep batters off guard,” Linder said. “Most pitchers don’t have the velocity and movement that she does.”

Meanwhile, Kent State’s batting was able to support the defense.

The Flashes loaded the bases early in the first inning of game one from two walks and a Penguins error. After striking out Robinson, Youngstown State was just one out away from escaping the jam. But senior second baseman Ashley Ball knocked a double into center field that brought in three runs. The Flashes ended the first inning with a lead that set a momentum that was tough to break, Linder said.

“We have won close to 90 percent of our games when we score in the beginning like that,” Linder said.

A one-run home run by freshman designated hitter Chelsey Jones in the second inning gave the Flashes a comfortable 4-0 lead that they would keep until the fifth inning.

In the sixth inning, sophomore left fielder Corey Houk was caught stealing second base, but freshman Dani Monson, who was pinch running for Jones, turned the play around for the Flashes by stealing home from third base. In the following at-bat, Hamilton knocked in a home run, bringing the score to 6-1.

However, the Penguins kept it interesting in the sixth inning countering with two runs off of two hits and an error.

Kent State prevented a comeback and kept Youngstown State scoreless in the final inning.

Game two turned out to be an offensive battle as the two teams combined for a total of 27 hits.

It was tied one run apiece when the Flashes took control with an explosive third inning performance. Sophomore shortstop Jessica Toocheck reached base on an error and sophomore catcher Whitney Lebowitz followed with a single. Sophomore designated hitter Jamie Fitzpatrick then batted everyone in with a home run into right field, marking her 10th home run of the season – one behind the Kent State single-season record. Junior first baseman Megan Verde followed with an RBI single.

The Penguins would not quit, as they scored two runs in the fourth and fifth to bring them within one run.

Houk helped the Flashes pull away with a two-run homer in the sixth inning, but a seventh inning that scored three runs from four hits secured the win.

The Flashes erased all hope of a comeback the same way as in game one – with solid pitching in the final innings. Robinson sealed the save by striking out the final batter.

The Flashes return to the diamond Friday for a doubleheader against Northern Illinois in DeKalb, Ill.

Contact softball reporter Sean Ammerman at [email protected].