Flyin’ high

Deanna Stevens

Sophomore shortstop Jessica Toocheck hit the game-winning home run last weekend against Western Michigan for a final score of 2-1. JAKE KELLOGG | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Shortstop Jessica Toocheck has a reputation on the Kent State softball team as being a clutch player in tough situations, Kent State coach Karen Linder said.

And the game-winning home run in the top of the eighth against Western Michigan Saturday only strengthened that reputation.

Toocheck’s seventh home run of the season came after she went 0-for-3 in her previous at bats. The long ball was No. 13 of her career, moving her into No. 5 of all time at Kent State in home runs.

Toocheck said when she went up to bat, she knew fellow teammates Whitney Lebowitz and Kim Hamilton were on deck, so she just wanted to get on base to give them a chance to pull it out.I used to.”

She said she tries to keep the rest of the team “upbeat and energetic” about the sport as well.

Her passion for softball has led Toocheck into the top five on the team in slugging percentage (.481), on-base percentage (.371), runs scored (26), hits (40) and RBIs (19).

She is also first on the team in plate appearances with 154 and at bats with 135.

Toocheck said making contact with the ball is the most important aspect of her offensive game at this point, and she doesn’t want to get “caught up” in chasing any records.

But one goal Toocheck said she would like to accomplish is making the All-MAC team.

Toocheck is not the only person who recognizes the team’s ability. The rest of the league does as well. This week, sophomore outfielder Hamilton was named MAC East Player of the Week and junior pitcher Brittney Robinson was named MAC East Pitcher of the Week.

Hamilton earned her honor after she continued her seven-game hitting streak and batted .409 with two home runs, two doubles, and six RBIs last weekend. She also scored seven runs and stole one base.

Robinson won all four of her games with a 0.93 ERA. She struck out 59 batters and set the Kent State single-game record for strikeouts with a 16-strikeout performance against Northern Illinois. She also became the second pitcher in MAC history to have more than 300 strikeouts in one season, with 307.

Kent State will return home at 3 p.m. today in a doubleheader against Penn State.

This will be the second time the teams have met this season. The first encounter ended in a 5-3 Penn State victory.

Kent State has won eight of their last nine games, and Linder said the Flashes are looking forward to another chance to play the Nittany Lions.

“It gives us a chance to prove that we’re at the same level as some of those Big Ten teams,” she said.

Contact softball reporter Deanna Stevens at

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