Brownfield’s grand slam gives softball its fourth MAC series win this season


Matthew Brown

Kent State graduate student Madyson Cole breaks for home base.

Isabella Schreck, Reporter

The score was 1-1 with bases loaded for the Kent State softball team in the top of the sixth inning against Akron.

Then fifth-year utility player Brenna Brownfield hit her first grand slam of her college career.

“She came out looking to hit, not looking to walk,” head coach Eric Oakley said. “She’s a smart hitter, and she knew that was a good pitch. Brenna’s consistent and a good hitter.”

Brownfield suffered a season-ending injury last year, and this was her first home run back.

“We didn’t know what she’d be able to do,” Oakley said. “Even for her to step in and get a hit a couple of weeks ago, and the hit she had against Northern Illinois [March 16] made me realize she’s still got her power, which is amazing.”

The Flashes defeated Akron 5-2 Tuesday in the Crystal Clinic Wagon Wheel Challenge.

Despite the win, KSU has moved back to ninth place in the Mid-American Conference. Miami has maintained its lead at 17-3. After winning its series against Western Michigan, Central Michigan is now in second at 13-7.

Kent State had a scoreless and hitless first two innings, only getting on base once with a walk. The Zips totaled two hits, one in each inning. KSU’s pitcher, redshirt senior Andrea Scali, struck out two batters in the top of the second.

“Andrea did a good job of keeping us in the game,” Oakley said. “We had a couple hard hits that went right to their outfielders. We just needed to be patient.”

The score was still 0-0 going into the bottom of the third, but then the Zips put a run on the scoreboard. Infielder Carley Auten reached first on a bunt, then advanced to second after another bunt single. After a single to left field from infielder Lexi Campbell, recording her an RBI, Akron scored the first run of the afternoon.

With one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, Kent State had its first and only hit of the inning with a home run from fifth-year utility player Madyson Cole to tie the game 1-1. This was Cole’s seventh home run this season.

“Our hitting has definitely gotten better,” Oakley said. “And that’s key because the pitching early on was doing a great job of giving us opportunities to win, and we just weren’t getting the timely hits. Some of our hitters that were struggling early on, like Madyson Cole, have found a groove and are hitting better.”

The Flashes had only one hit in the sixth inning, a single to left center from sophomore pitcher Jessica LeBeau. The Zips got on base once with a walk, Scali’s second walk allowed of the afternoon.

Kent State’s offense took control of the sixth inning. Brownfield, who pinch hit for senior infielder Chole Cruz, came out with a grand slam, bringing the score to 5-1 with two outs remaining. The Zips had no hits or runs.

Akron opened the seventh and final inning with a home run to right field but was never able to narrow KSU’s lead. The Flashes finished victorious 5-2.

Scali allowed only five hits and two walks. She totaled six strikeouts.

“We need our defensive pitching to keep us in until the hitting can come around,” Oakley said. “She’s given us a chance in most of the games she’s pitched.”

The Flashes play Western Michigan, which is tied for eighth in the MAC at 7-13, Friday at 3 p.m. and in a double header Saturday 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. at the Diamond at Dix.

A dedication ceremony will be held for the renaming of the softball diamond to the Devine Diamond between Sunday’s games. The change honors women’s athletics pioneer Judy Devine, who worked as a coach and administrator during her 31 years at Kent State.

“It’s hard to really appreciate where you are without knowing where you were,” Oakley said. “She’s such a huge part of the history of the athletic department. She fought for years for the student athletes to be getting what they deserve. She’s done it all, and her gift is incredibly appreciated.”

Isabella Schreck is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].