Flashes to Play Five Games Over Three Days at NC State
In four consecutive weekends, Kent State will head south for softball competition, beginning with NC State's Wolfpack Challenge this week at Dail Stadium in Raleigh. The Golden Flashes (1-4) will take on Lehigh and host NC State on Friday. Kent State will get a rematch with the Wolfpack on Saturday followed by a battle with Georgetown under the lights. Sunday will mark the Flashes' fifth and final game of the weekend against Pitt.
Last Time Out
During its opening weekend of competition in Las Vegas, Kent State proved it can compete with some of the best teams in the nation. The Golden Flashes dropped two games against No. 5 Oklahoma, but remained within striking distance throughout each game. In its Feb. 12 game, Kent State led the Sooners 1-0 after three innings and remained tied after five innings, before Oklahoma pulled away. The Flashes also suffered a pair of extra inning losses against Minnesota and Weber State after defeating CSU Bakersfield 11-5.
Freshman Emma Johnson (Groveport, Ohio) went the first 14 innings of her college career without allowing an earned run at UNLV. In her first start against Weber State, she struck out 12 batters and did not allow an earned run. Her second start came against Minnesota, where she fanned 13 batters and permitted just one earned run.
In the loss to Weber State, senior catcher Jess Blanton (Wheelersburg, Ohio) went 2-for-3 with a walk. Shannon Laughlin (Fairview Park, Ohio), Alex Marcantonio (North Canton, Ohio) and Abbey Ledford (West Liberty, Ohio) all doubled.
Junior center fielder Lauren Grimes (Tallmadge, Ohio) hit a three-run homer in the Flashes' win over CSU Bakersfield and showed great range in the outfield throughout the weekend.
Sophomore outfielder Caitie Kilbane (Westerville, Ohio) doubled against Oklahoma.
Lehigh- The Mountain Hawks, who will be playing their first game of the season Friday, were picked to repeat as Patriot League champions in 2012. Lehigh finished 2011 at 33-23 for the program's 11th consecutive season with 30 or more victories. Junior pitcher Rebecca Bliss went 16-8 with a 2.97 ERA last season and was named Patriot League Tournament MVP. Senior Julie Fernandez hit .364 last season with 14 doubles and junior catcher Liz Lucas hit .380 with 10 home runs and 21 doubles.
North Carolina State- The Wolfpack returns 10 letterwinners from a 2011 team that went 19-10 in non-conference games. This season, NC State is 3-5 after a tough early-year schedule. In their most recent game, the Wolfpack held No. 15 Texas A&M to just four hits, but fell 3-2, its second one-run loss of the weekend to the Aggies. Senior shortstop Katie Mansilla is hitting a team best .417, while sophomore Scout Albertson (.353) has two home runs. Freshman Emily Weiman carries a 1.67 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 37.2 innings pitched.
Georgetown- The Hoyas (5-2) went 3-0 last weekend at the South Carolina Upstate Tournament, winning its games by a combined score of 21-0. Senior Cara Savarese is hitting .471, while sophomore Elyse Graziano (.400) has a pair of triples. Georgetown is hitting .318 as a team. Senior Mackensey Carter has earned a spot on the All-Big East Team in each of the last two seasons. Freshman Megan Hyson is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in 13.0 innings pitched.
Pittsburgh- The Panthers are 1-2 after splitting a pair of games with Illinois and falling at No. 13 Texas this past weekend. Freshman pitcher Savannah King allowed just one run in a 1-0 loss against Illinois Sunday and went eight innings without permitting an earned run in a win over the Illini Saturday. Senior Kelly Hmiel doubled and scored in the win. Last season, Hmiel hit .393 with 15 home runs and 10 doubles.
History vs. Opponents
NC State holds an 8-4 all-time series lead against Kent State, but the teams have not met since 2008. The Flashes lead 12-4 in its all-time series with Pitt, after falling to the Panthers 8-0 last February. Last March in Kent, the Flashes led Pitt 5-2 after four innings, before snow forced the cancellation of the game. Kent State will be taking on Lehigh and Georgetown for the first time.
Kent State will play five games in three days at the Marshall Invitational (March 2-4). The Flashes will play two games against host Marshall and IPFW and a single game with Bucknell.