Kent State hope to recover after losses

The Kent State softball team (22-22, 10-5 Mid-American Conference) has a chance to make a run for the MAC East Division lead this weekend as it hosts Buffalo.

The Bulls (11-36, 2-12 MAC) currently sit at the bottom of the MAC East, but Kent State coach Karen Linder said the Flashes will be making a grave mistake if they go into the games assuming victory.

“We definitely have to be mentally prepared to play against them,” Linder said. “Our offense has to show up.”

Linder said the Bulls’ pitching is one of their strong points. Their leading pitcher, Sophie Barstad, has an ERA of 3.15 with 108 strikeouts on the season and can be particularly deadly, Linder said.

“Buffalo is a feisty team,” Linder said. “Its win-loss record isn’t that good, but the one pitcher it has is Barstad; she can keep you off balance.”

Kent State will benefit from playing a single game Saturday and Sunday, opposed to a doubleheader, Linder said. The Flashes have had more success with MAC opponents in single games, sweeping Central Michigan, Akron and Western Michigan.

“We’re on a little bit of a roller coaster ride,” Linder said. “If you look at the teams in the MAC we’ve swept, we’ve swept the top teams other than Bowling Green.”

To become No. 1 in the MAC East this weekend, Kent State will need help with losses from No. 2 Akron, which is facing Northern Illinois and Western Michigan, as well as from No. 1 Bowling Green, which is facing Toledo.

Kent State is coming off a pair of losses from Wednesday’s double header against Penn State.

Linder said she was disappointed in her team’s enthusiasm after the Nittany Lions managed to shut down the Flashes’ offense which is just two home runs shy of setting a MAC season record.

“With this team, a loss motivates us to win,” Linder said. “So, in some respects it might have been good that we lost because it kind of kicks us in the rear and says you gotta be ready to play.”

Despite the losses, junior pitcher Brittney Robinson continued to break records for the Flashes. In the first game against the Nittany Lions, Robinson recorded 10 strikeouts, giving her 317 for the season. The count was enough to break the MAC record for most strikeouts in one season.

“I think it’s realistic for her,” Linder said. “It will be interesting to see how far she takes it.”

Contact softball reporters Sean Ammerman at [email protected] and Deanna Stevens at [email protected].