Flashes Run Winning Streak to Four Games, Downing Princeton and Rhode Island
COLLEGE PARK, Md.- Kent State extended its winning streak to four games Friday with a 9-7 extra-inning victory over Princeton and an 8-0 blanking of Rhode Island at the Maryland Round Robin Tournament. Sophomore Abbey Ledford (West Liberty, Ohio) launched a key three-run homer in the eighth against the Tigers as the Golden Flashes (8-9) totaled 18 hits over 13 innings on the day.
"A lot of different players stepped up today," Head Coach Karen Linder said. "We hit the ball pretty well and Abbey came up big in the eighth."
The opening game featured 25 total hits, beginning with senior Lauren Mokler's (Uniontown, Ohio) double in the first. Mokler scored on a sac fly by senior Jess Blanton (Wheelersburg, Ohio), but the Tigers responded with one of their own in the first.
"I give Lauren Mokler a ton of credit," Linder said. "She really got things going for us."
Starting pitcher Lauren McNeil (Akron, Ohio) did not allow another run until the fourth, when Princeton took a 2-1 lead on a solo homer by Cara Worden. The Flashes then came right back with three runs in the fifth behind a double from junior Lauren Grimes (Tallmadge, Ohio) and another double by Mokler down the left field line.
Another double by Grimes helped give Kent State a 5-2 lead in the sixth. Meanwhile, relief pitcher Danielle Abernathy (Adairsville, Ga.) did not allow a run in the fifth or sixth. However, the Tigers put togehter a string of four singles in the seventh against Abernathy, two of which did not leave the infield.
Freshman pitcher Emma Johnson (Groveport, Ohio) then entered the game, but not before Maddie Cousens delivered a game-tying single to left.
A pair of walks set up Ledford's three-run shot in the top of the eighth to give the Flashes a 9-5 lead. Princeton did not go away quietly in the eighth with two runs on two hits, but Johnson struck out Kelsey VandeBergh to end the game.
"We've been talking to the players about how we need to respond, when something like that seventh inning happens," Linder said. "And we took control back when Mary (Holt) took advantage of two passed balls to put us ahead."
Mokler went 4-for-5 in the opener with three runs scored. Ledford was 3-for-4 with three RBI and Grimes went 2-for-4 with three runs scored.
Johnson earned her third victory of the season as she, Abernathy and McNeil combined for eight strikeouts.
With her second shutout of the season, Johnson also earned the win against Rhode Island, tossing a one-hitter. She fanned four and allowed just one walk. The only hit Johnson allowed came against the game's first batter.
The Flashes put up five runs against the Rams in the first, beginning with a double by Blanton, scoring Grimes and Ledford. Two batters later, sophomore Alex Marcantonio (North Canton, Ohio) lifted a three-run homer over the right field fence.
A double by Ledford in the second, set up an RBI single from Blanton. Senior Mary Holt (Providence, R.I.) doubled and scored in the third to give the Flashes a 7-0 lead.
Marcantonio led off the bottom of the fifth with a single up the middle and later scored on an error for the run rule to take effect. She and Blanton each went 2-for-3 with three RBI in the second game. Ledoford joined Mokler with four hits on the day.
In two games, the Kent State defense did not commit an error. Ledford made five defensive plays against Princeton, including an impressive fully extended diving grab.