Kent State softball ranked No.2 in the MAC, starts season in Georgia

Amanda Levine Sports editor

Kent State softball’s 2019 season ended in a 4-2 loss to Marshall University in the National Invitational Softball Championship. Despite a 28-26 finish to the season, the Flashes were picked No. 2 in the Mid American Conference preseason polls, one point behind Miami.

Kent State received four first-place votes to win the MAC after two Flashes won high honors in the 2019 season. Junior utility player Brenna Brownfield won MAC Player of the Year in addition to redshirt sophomore Andrea Scali, who won Pitcher of the Year.

Scali finished her 2019 campaign with a 22-9 season and a 2.15 ERA.  She limited the opposing batters to 12.2 K/9 and a .183 batting average. The sophomore pitcher finished MAC play with 1.00 ERA, a 9-1 record and four shutouts. 

Scali’s season of three no-hitters was the most in team history, propelling her to Pitcher of the Year, All-MAC First Team and MAC Freshman of the Year.

“You can only get better. I think a lot of it has to do with just a little bit more of her accuracy trying to minimize missed pitches. … She’s going to have to work to not necessarily change a whole lot, but to just kind of keep things better, work on getting more break or hitting spots more accurately, those kinds of things,” coach Eric Oakley said. 

Brownfield finished 2019 with a slash line of .322/.378/.573, helping her secure MAC Player of the Year honors in addition to making the All-MAC First Team. She was second on the team in batting average, tied for first in home runs and third on the team in on-base percentage. 

The senior utility player said she will see more consistent playing time in right field for the 2020 season as well as the designated player. 

“I think my approach changed as to being selective at pitches and knowing what pitchers were going to throw [at] me. Also just getting knowledge from the upperclassmen last year, taking my role at DP and knowing what I have to do and I think they helped me a lot too,” Brownfield said. 

Last season was Brownfield’s last year playing alongside her sister, Bailey Brownfield. Bailey Brownfield will join the team as a volunteer assistant coach. She is second in school history on the all-time hits list with 206.

“I think she’s a very calming influence. She never gets too riled up or never gets too negative. She likes to maintain a pretty positive vibe. And so it’s always nice to have that presence around,” Oakley said. 

Oakley said the team worked on their mental game during the offseason. The team worked on “bringing the mental game into the drills” so that the players can bring the skill set during the season. 

“You know, it’s not just take a bunch of swings on a ball on a tee. It’s about visualizing the picture, what pitch is being thrown, you know, so that you’re preparing yourself for the actual moment,” Oakley said. 

The Flashes will begin their pre-season tournaments Friday, Feb. 7th at 1 p.m. Kent State will start the Red and Black Showcase against University of North Carolina Wilmington in Athens, Georgia.

Amanda Levine is the sports editor. Contact her at [email protected]