Flashes Win Over Longhorn Faithful
by Lance Lysowski, Kent State Athletic Communications Summer Intern
Kent State head coach Scott Stricklin did not get a chance to soak-in his team's season-ending loss to Texas before receiving praise from the most unlikely of sources.
Stricklin's e-mail account was filled with messages from Longhorn fans following the Kent State baseball team's exit from the NCAA Tournament.
The messages mostly came from Texas season ticket holders, and they all contained one theme -- admiration.
Fans were amazed with the Golden Flashes' professionalism on and off the field in Austin, as well as how talented Kent State's team was.
"I breathed a sigh of relief when the Longhorns won simply because it meant we did not have to play you guys again…your team is outstanding…the pitching…the offense…the defense, but most importantly the integrity and professionalism shown by your team," one fan said to Stricklin in an e-mail.
Following the Golden Flashes' loss to Texas, Stricklin was disappointed. Kent State dropped two straight games to the Longhorns after defeating them last Monday in front of 9,000 fans.
''This is the best season in Kent State history and we didn't want it to end,'' Stricklin said. ''I'm really proud of my team.''
The team's record-breaking season was over, but Texas coach Augie Garrido surprised many with his post-game comments.
He not only gave Kent State credit for their strong play, but called the Golden Flashes one of the best teams in the country.
''After the loss, we played at a level at which we hoped to play all year and that we strive for in our program,'' Garrido said. ''Kent State is a well-structured team. They make contact, they battle, their name is not as recognizable as some others but they play better than most. So my hat's off to their coaching staff and their players. If we had not played at the highest level we have all season we would not have beaten them.''
The kind words may not change the outcome of Kent State's season, but Stricklin and the Kent State baseball team garnered national attention with their play in Texas.
The Golden Flashes defeated Longhorns ace Taylor Jungman last Monday, who was the 12th overall pick in the MLB First-Year Player Draft this past weekend. The Flashes displayed consistency against one of the country's top collegiate baseball programs, and surprised many with their postseason run.
45 wins, MAC Regular Season Champions, MAC Tournament Champions and No. 24 in the nation to end the regular season according to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
The 2011 Kent State baseball team will always be remembered for their NCAA Regional Final appearance, and while the players are disappointed that the season is over, they can find solace in the words of the fans that cheered against them in Austin.
"Before the weekend past, I was one of those people who knew nothing about Kent State's baseball team," another fan said in an e-mail to Stricklin. "What I know about you now is you're a fine group of athletes and coaches with a lot of talent, teamwork and tenacity. I especially note and appreciate your good sportsmanship and graciousness in both winning and losing situations. You guys are a class act!"