Flashes Fall in Extra Innings After Winning Opener
LAS VEGAS- Kent State split its first two games of the Sportco Kickoff Classic Friday at UNLV's Eller Media Stadium. The Golden Flashes topped CSU Bakersfield 11-5, before dropping a 2-1 extra-inning affair against Weber State. Kent State scored 11 runs in its first two innings of the day, before going 12 straight frames without a run.
A three-run homer by junior Lauren Grimes (Tallmadge, Ohio) capped off an eight-run first inning in the opener. The Flashes took advantage of four walks in the first and singles by Jess Blanton (Wheelersburg, Ohio) and Abbey Ledford (West Liberty, Ohio).
The Flashes tacked on three more runs in the second, highlighted by a two-out, two-run double to left field by senior Mary Holt (Providence, R.I.). Senior Lauren Mokler (Uniontown, Ohio) then drove in Holt to give Kent State an 11-0 lead.
The Roadrunners responded with two runs on three hits in the bottom of the second. After holding the Flashes scoreless in the top of the third, CSU Bakersfield began to pick up momentum with three more runs on four hits, including a pair of doubles.
Sophomore starting pitcher Lauren McNeil (Akron, Ohio) then settled down and completed six innings to earn the victory. McNeil did not allow a run past the third inning. Freshman Emma Johnson (Groveport, Ohio) retired three straight batters in the the final frame.
Johnson then went all eight innings against Weber State, as both sides were held scoreless after seven frames. She struck out 12 batters and allowed just four hits, but the Wildcats caught a break in the eighth. With a runner placed on second to start the inning, a throwing error contributed to two runs.
KSU did not go away quietly in the bottom of the eighth as Grimes scored on an error and Blanton kept the game alive with a two-out single, before Wildcat pitcher Sarah Clark notched her eighth strikeout of the game.
The Flashes knocked four doubles and out-hit the Wildcats 6-4, but left nine runners on base. Kent State's golden opportunity came in the bottom of the seventh, when Ledford led off with a double to right center. She then moved to third on an infield single by Holt. However, Clark struck out the next batter, forced a short ground out back to the circle to keep the runner at third and ended the inning with a ground out to second base.
The Golden Flashes (1-1) will take on No. 5 Oklahoma at 4:30 Eastern (1:30 Pacific) Saturday followed by a matchup with Minnesota at 6:45. Kent State will take on the Sooners once again on Sunday to close out the five-game weekend.