Flashes to Close Out Regular Season at Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan
Wrapping up the 2011 regular season with a four-game trip to the state of Michigan, Kent State (18-26, 8-7 MAC) looks to clinch a spot in next week's conference tournament, beginning with a doubleheader at Central Michigan (26-18, 10-8) Friday. Trailing the top of the division standings by a game and-a-half, the Golden Flashes could also have a chance to clinch an unprecedented sixth straight MAC East title with single games at Eastern Michigan (23-13, 9-7) Saturday and Sunday. Ten teams are still in the hunt for the eight available spots at the Mid-American Conference Championships, while the top eight teams are currently separated by only three-and-a-half games.
A Look at Central Michigan
The Chippewas carry the second lowest team ERA in the conference at 2.69. Sophomore Kara Dornbos ranks second in the MAC with a 2.26 ERA, while senior Kari Seddon ranks sixth at 2.47. A two-time all-conference selection, Seddon has fanned 108 batters this season. She is also one of five players in the CMU lineup hitting over .300. Junior Molly Coldren, who was named MAC West Player of the Week Tuesday, is tied for league lead in home runs with 13 and ranks fourth in batting average .at .411. Coldren has driven in 35 runs, while senior Amanda Patrick (.298) leads the team with 39 RBI. Senior Brittini Merchant (.338) has a team-high 11 doubles, while sophomore Macy Merchant (.331) leads the Chippewas with 21 stolen bases. Central Michigan is 10-2 at home this season.
A Look at Eastern Michigan
The Eagles recently dropped a 9-7 battle with No. 2 Michigan (45-4) on Tuesday, tying the most runs scored by any Wolverine opponent this season. Junior Jessica Richards went 3-for-4 with a double and three runs scored in the game. Richards is hitting .359 on the year with 35 runs scored and 19 stolen bases. Senior Stacie Skodinski leads the team with nine home runs and ranks fifth in the MAC in hitting (.404). Junior McKenna Russ is a batting a league best .439 with 16 extra base hits. As a team, the Eagles are hitting .314, which ranks third in the MAC. EMU's 2.84 ERA ranks third in the league. Sophomore pitcher Jenna Ignowski is 12-5 with a 2.75 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 102 innings. Freshman Lauren Wells (7-4) also ranks among the league's 10 best ERAs at 2.76.
All-Time Series and Last Season
Kent State holds a 42-28 all-time series lead against Eastern Michigan. The Flashes split a doubleheader with the Eagles last season in Kent. Jess Blanton went 2-for-3 with three RBIs in a 6-5 KSU win and Jess Carmichael went deep in a 12-6 loss. KSU has won six of the last seven meetings with Eastern Michigan.
Central Michigan leads the all-time series with Kent State 38-33, but the Golden Flashes have closed the gap in recent years, winning the last seven meetings. The Flashes swept a pair of 2010 regular season games from the Chippewas in Kent, before capturing a third meeting at the MAC Championships. Lauren Grimes smashed a pair of home runs in a 9-1 victory. The very next day, she and Beth Cinadr homered in a 4-2 win. Grimes also delivered a clutch RBI triple on day two of the conference tournament in another 4-2 win over CMU.
• Kent State ranks fifth in the nation with 1.75 doubles per game. Its 77 doubles on the year are the second most in program history.
• Offensively, the Golden Flashes are having their best season since their College World Series run in 1990. KSU is hitting .296 as a team with 117 extra base hits in 44 games.
• The Flashes' 38 home runs are the fifth most in program history.
• Kent State began conference play by scoring 44 runs in 22 innings. The run rule took effect in three of KSU's wins. The Golden Flashes hit .369 with eight doubles and six home runs in four games. On April 2 at Toledo, the Flashes scored 20 runs in a game for the first time since 1980.
• On Friday against Akron, Kent State scored 10 runs in a game for the 11th time this season.
• Freshman Alex Marcantonio has gone 14-for-21 in her last six games with six walks. In 16 plate appearances over four weekend games, she carried an on-base percentage of .733, a slugging percentage of .800. and hit .600 with six runs scored. Marcantonio leads all MAC hitters in conference-only batting average at .485. She leads the league in conference-only on-base percentage (.622) and overall on-base percentage (.535). Her 1.25 runs scored per game in conference play are more than other MAC player. Her .697 slugging percentage in conference games rank eighth among league players and first among freshmen. Nationally, Marcantonio ranks 25th in on-base percentage and ranks in the top 100 in batting average (.391), walks (24) and runs per games.
• In her last 30 games, Beth Cinadr is hitting .442 with 14 doubles, three home runs and 23 runs batted in. She had the Flashes' longest hitting streak of the season at 12 games. Cinadr leads the MAC lead in doubles with 16 and ranks 10th in the nation with 0.37 doubles per game. In a doubleheader against Ohio Saturday, she launched a pair of home runs, ripped a double and drove in six.
• In 15 MAC games, Shannon Laughlin has driven in 18 runs, which leads the MAC in RBIs per game. She has also scored 16 runs in 15 conference games, ranking third in the league in runs per game.
• Jess Carmichael is hitting .347 in conference play and her seven doubles against league opponents are the second most. Kent State's career RBI leader, Carmichael has driven in 126 runs over four seasons. She ranks second among KSU's career home run leaders with 34, trailing only Jamie Fitzpatrick who finished with 36. Her 173 hits are tied for fourth among KSU career leaders and her 37 doubles rank fourth.
• Two of the team's top three hitters are freshmen, as rookie Abbey Ledford is batting .369 on the year with five home runs. Last Friday in a doubleheader against Akron, Ledford went 4-for-6 with two walks, four RBI a home run and three runs scored.
• Since March 12, three different KSU players have earned MAC East Player of the Week honors: Mary Holt, Abbey Ledford, Jess Carmichael.
The top eight teams in the MAC standings will advance to play in the conference tournament Wednesday, May 11 through Saturday, May 14 at Firestone Stadium in Akron.