Five Opponents Await Flashes at USF Invitational
Winners of five of its last seven, Kent State State (9-11) will play in its final regular season tournament at the USF Invitational this weekend. The Golden Flashes will play five games in three days, beginning Friday, March 16 at USF Stadium in Tampa, Fla. Kent State opens against Dartmouth Friday morning, immediately followed by a matchup will Colgate. On Saturday, the Flashes take on Coastal Carolina at 9 a.m., prior to a 4 p.m. game against the host Bulls. KSU closes out its tournament Sunday at 9 a.m., against Providence.
Live stats for Kent State's game against South Florida can be viewed at gousfbulls.com.
Recent Winning Streak
Following a 4-9 start, the Golden Flashes recently put together a five-game winning streak, outscoring opponents 43-14. During that span, senior Lauren Mokler (Uniontown, Ohio) hit .625 (10-for-16) with three doubles. Senior Mary Holt (Providence, R.I.) hit .467 with two homers and two doubles. In a 5-3 victory over Rhode Island, Holt hit a key home run in the sixth inning, to give Kent State a two-run lead. She recorded at least one hit and scored at least one run in all five Kent State victories. Senior Jess Blanton (Wheelersburg, Ohio) also hit .467 over those five games with seven RBIs, two doubles and a home run. Sophomore Alex Marcantonio (North Canton, Ohio) joined Holt with a pair of home runs during the streak.
Sophomore Danielle Abernathy (Adairsville, Ga.) went 2-0 with a 2.21 ERA and a shutout in three appearances during the winning streak. Freshman pitcher Emma Johnson (Groveport, Ohio) went 3-0 with a shutout.
On Tuesday, Johnson was named Mid-American Conference East Division Softball Pitcher of the Week. Johnson earned two victories in one day last Friday. She came on in relief against Princeton to help give the Flashes a 9-7 extra-inning win. Immediately afterward, she got the start against Rhode Island and threw a one-hit shutout.
Later in the weekend, she struck out 20 Maryland batters over 13 innings in two games. Johnson threw complete games in all three of her starts, never allowing more than two earned runs. For the week, she carried a 1.81 ERA, struck out 26 batters and walked seven.
Johnson became the second Kent State player to win a conference award this season. Sophomore Abbey Ledford (West Liberty, Ohio) was named MAC East Player of the Week on Feb. 29. Since the Wolfpack Invitational, Ledford is hitting .386 with four home runs and 17 RBI in 15 games. She is also carrying a .727 slugging percentage since the final weekend of February.
The Golden Flashes scored 15 runs in a game for the second time this season, in a five-inning, 15-0 rout of Bucknell. Kent State also set a season-high for hits in a game against the Bison with 19, all of which came in four innings. The last time the Flashes had 19 hits in a game was in 1990, during the team's run to the College World Series. Abernathy threw a one-hit shutout against Bucknell and struck out three. Three different players homered against the Bison, while three players doubled. The Flashes also put up 15 runs in a victory at NC State. Kent State has scored 11 or more runs in a game three times. The Flashes have smacked 12 or more hits four times this season.
Ledford leads the team with four homers, 17 RBI and a .610 slugging percentage.
Johnson carries a team best ERA of 2.14. She has thrown nine complete games in 10 starts and has fanned 84 batters.
Blanton has a team best .373 batting average and a .477 on-base percentage.
Holt has a team best five doubles.
Dartmouth- The Big Green started their season at the Coastal Carolina Tournament going 1-2. Sophomore infielder Kara Curosh has been the offensive leader early on, batting .556 with five hits in their three games. Junior outfielder Morgan Wharton has provided speed on the bases going 2-for-2 in steal attempts. In the circle, senior Hillary Barker has gone 1-1 in 10.2 innings with a 3.28 ERA and holding opponents to a .195 batting average. Dartmouth opens up with Kent State in their first of six games in the South Florida Invitational.
Colgate- It's been a tough start to the season for the Raiders, who have gone 2-8 in their first 10 games. Junior Courtney O'Connell leads the team in innings pitched with 27.1, going 1-2 with a 2.30 ERA in five games, three of which were complete games. She has recorded 10 strikeouts and opponents are hitting .238 against her. O'Connell has also helped fuel the offense with a .263 batting average including one home run and four RBIs. Emma Dolfi and Tera Vaughn are tied for second in RBIs with three each.
Coastal Carolina- The Chanticleers are a young team off to a tremendous start this year (20-5). They have been explosive offensively, led by freshman Kory Hayden who is swinging a hot bat with a .433 average with seven home runs, 24 RBIs and a .791 slugging percentage. As a team, the Chanticleers have hit 21 long balls while driving in 107 runs in their 25 games. Freshman Kiana Quolas has emerged as the ace of the staff, earning half the teams wins with a 10-2 record, 0.45 ERA, 54 strikeouts, and an opponent batting average of .146 in 77.2 innings pitched.
South Florida- The host Bulls have stormed out of the gates at 19-4 and are ranked No. 23 in the USA Today Top 25. Kenshyra Jackson and Janine Richardson have been the driving force behind the offense thus far. Jackson, a junior infielder, is hitting .321 with 18 hits, one home run, and 18 RBIs. Richardson, a senior outfielder, has a .348 batting average, including four home runs and 14 RBIs. Sophomore pitcher Sara Nevins has been dominating opponents going 9-2 with 3 saves in 18 appearances and 80.2 innings pitched. Nevins was named USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week after throwing a no-hitter against Central Connecticut and a perfect game against Toledo. She posts a 0.78 ERA with 94 strikeouts and has held opponents to a .179 batting average.
Providence- The Friars have begun the year 5-9 and are currently on a two-game winning streak. Junior outfielder Jessie Bryant has been the offensive leader with 14 hits in 36 at bats to give her a .389 batting average. She has hit two home runs and has eight RBIs. The Friars are led by junior Corinne Clauss in the circle, who is 2-3 in her five appearances with two complete games and 22 innings pitched.
History vs. Opponents
The Golden Flashes are 1-2 all-time against South Florida, 0-1 against Providence. Kent State is 6-2 against Coastal Carolina, most recently topping the Chanticleers 7-3 in 11 innings in 2010. Lauren Grimes went 3-for-6 in that game with two runs scored. Danielle Abernathy tossed 3.2 innings and allowed just one hit. The Flashes have not played Colgate and Dartmouth.
Kent State will play a single game at Central Florida Wednesday, March 21, before taking a week off from competition.