Flashes Open Conference Play Hosting Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan
Kent State opens Mid-American Conference play this weekend with four games in three days against West Division foes. The Golden Flashes (13-15) host Central Michigan (12-11) in a doubleheader Friday, beginning at noon. Eastern Michigan (10-16) then heads to the Diamond at Dix for single games on Saturday and Sunday.
Live stats for all games can be viewed on www.kentstatesports.com. Also look for updates on Twitter @ksuathletics
The Flashes are coming off an 8-5 game two victory at Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Kent State totaled 12 hits in the win, including four doubles.
Wednesday marked Kent State's sixth game of the season with 12 or more hits.
Despite a 13-15 record, Kent State's current RPI is 127 of 289 Division I teams because of its strength of schedule. Thirteen of the Flashes' games played have come against Top 100 RPI opponents.
The Flashes have shut out five different opponents this season, including Coastal Carolina, who is 26-9 on the year.
Blanton has reached on either a hit or a walk in all 13 Kent State wins this season.
Following a 4-9 start, the Golden Flashes have hit .284 in their last 15 games, carrying a 2.31 team ERA.
In her last four games, freshman pitcher Emma Johnson (Groveport, Ohio) is 3-0 with a 0.74 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 19.0 innings.
This weekend marks the beginning of a 22-game Mid-American Conference schedule for all 12 league teams.
Kent State has won the MAC East title in five of the previous six seasons and seven times total since the conference went to divisions in 1998. The Golden Flashes have won at least a share of the overall regular season title three times since 2007.
Eastern Michigan - The Eagles finished last season with a 12-8 mark in conference games to finish fourth in the MAC West and earn the No. 5 seed at the 2011 MAC Tournament. Senior infielder Jessica Ricahards has been a formidable force on the base paths this season, stealing 16 bases on 19 attempts to give her 60 in her career. In 24 starts, Richards has stolen a base in 11 contests, with multiple swipes in three separate games. Against both Central Florida (Feb. 26) and Drake (March 9), she stole three bases in each contest to tie a career best. Three stolen bases in a single contest also ties the second most in a single game by an EMU softball player in program history and is one short of the program record set by Dawn Godfrey agaisnt Miami on April 6, 1996.
Central Michigan - is currently riding a six-game winning streak. In the Chippewas' last outing, they run-ruled Detroit in a pair of games, 14-4 and 11-1, on Tuesday. CarolAnn Sexauer recorded her first collegiate grand slam on her way to finishing the day 4-for-6 with seven RBI. Chelsea DeLamielleure ended the two games 3-for-7 with two home runs and four RBI, while Molly Coldren was a perfect 4-for-4 hitting from the plate hitting with three runs scored. In 66.1 innings pitched by Kara Dornbos she has retired the first two batters of the inning 27 times and has retired the side in order 23 times. She currently has a 1.79 ERA along with seven complete games and three shutouts. The Chippewas are 35th in the country averaging .41 double plays per game; they have turned nine this season. They are 45th in stolen bases per game, averaging 1.5, and 79th in earned run average at 2.53. Individually Macy Merchant has the nation's 46th best batting average (.423) while Coldren is 82nd in RBI.
History vs. Opponents
Central Michigan leads the all-time series with Kent State 41-33. The Flashes 2011 season came to an end at the hands of the Chippewas at the MAC Tournament. CMU capped off a 3-0 season against Kent State with a 2-1 postseason victory. During the regular season, Shannon Laughlin (Fairview, Ohio) had a 2-for-3 game with a home run.
The Golden Flashes lead Eastern Michigan 44-29. Kent State ended the Eagles' 2011 season at the MAC Tournament, behind a five-run rally in the seventh inning. Danielle Abernathy tossed 5.1 scoreless innings of relief, while Abbey Ledford went 4-for-4 at the plate. The two teams split the regular season series in Ypsilanti.
On March 13, Johnson was named Mid-American Conference East Division Softball Pitcher of the Week. Johnson earned two victories in one day at the Maryland Round Robin. 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.
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.
The Golden Flashes scored 15 runs in a game for the second time this season, in a five-inning, 15-0 rout of Bucknell on March 4. 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. 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.
Ledford leads the team with four homers, 20 runs scored, 21 RBI and a .529 slugging percentage.
Johnson carries a team best ERA of 1.85. She has thrown 11 complete games in 13 starts and has fanned 109 batters. Johnson's 8.2 strikeouts per seven innings ranks 43rd in the nation.
McNeil carries a 4-1 record in 10 starts.
Blanton has a team best .387 batting average, and a .467 on-base percentage. She is also hitting .450 with runners on base.
The Golden Flashes will remain at home in the midst of a 10-game homestand against Robert Morris in a non-conference doubleheader Wednesday.