Flashes Travel to Western Michigan and Northern Illinois This Weekend
Kent State will be tested this weekend in four Mid-American Conference road games against West Division opponents. The Golden Flashes (20-18, 6-2 MAC) take on defending MAC regular season and tournament champion Western Michigan (18-12, 4-2) in a doubleheader Friday, beginning at 1 p.m. Later that evening, the Flashes will hop back on a bus and head to DeKalb, Ill., for game single games at Northern Illinois (16-21, 4-4) Saturday and Sunday.
Miami, Bowling Green and Kent State currently sit in a three-way tie for the best record in the conference at 6-2. Five other teams, including Western and Northern Illinois, are within two games of the top spot.
Live stats for Friday's games can be viewed at www.wmubroncos.com Saturday and Sunday's live stats can be viewed at www.niuhuskies.com.
Abernathy at Her Best
Junior Danielle Abernathy (Adairsville, Ga.) is coming the best week of her career. In three appearances on the week, Abernathy went 3-0 with a pair of complete games and a 1.53 ERA. She carried a perfect game through six innings against Robert Morris, retiring the first 18 batters she faced. On Sunday, she retired the first nine batters she faced against Toledo. Abernathy allowed only three walks and just one extra-base hit in 18.1 innings on the week.
In conference play, Abernathy is 2-0 in four appearances with a 1.71 ERA. In her last five appearances, she is 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA in 23.1 innings.
In four conference games last weekend, freshman Kim Kirkpatrick (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) hit .500 with a .583 on-base percentage and an .800 slugging percentage. She hit a key two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth Saturday in a win over Toledo, that broke a 2-2 tie. The Flashes went 4-1 in her five starts on the week.
Playing in four games last week, sophomore Kim Morgason hit .500 (5-for-10) with a home run and a double.
Kent State ranks 23rd in the nation in doubles per game (1.42), led by senior Shannon Laughlin (Fairview Park, Ohio) with nine. Since last season, Laughlin has totaled 10 doubles in conference play.
In her last 12 appearances, freshman Emma Johnson (Groveport, Ohio) is 7-2 with a 1.38 ERA and a pair of shutouts. She ranks 55th in the nation in strikeouts per seven innings.
Freshman Dani Ramos (South Euclid, Ohio) is hitting .391 in conference play.
In conference only games, the Golden Flashes rank second in the MAC with a 1.88 ERA.
Kent State's current RPI is 107 of 289 Division I teams. Fifteen of the Flashes' games played have come against opponents with higher RPIs.
After a 4-9 start, Kent State has gone 16-9 since March 4.
Western Michigan–The Broncos enter the weekend on a three-game winning streak after sweeping Eastern Michigan last weekend and topping No. 20 Michigan 1-0 on Wednesday. Western Michigan has maintained consistency on both offensive and defense this season. The team's .976 fielding percentage leads the conference and ranks 13th in the nation, while senior pitcher/first baseman Meredith Whitney continues to excel on the mound. Whitney's 107 strikeouts rank fifth in the MAC, while her 2.67 ERA and 112.2 innings pitched have paced the Broncos. She tossed a four-hit shutout in Ann Arbor Wednesday. Whitney's .341 batting average also leads the team. Fellow senior and outfielder Courtney Rousseau is hitting .330 with four doubles.
Northern Illinois- After winning 3-of-4 conference games on the road last weekend, the Huskies dropped a midweek matchup to DePaul, 6-1. The Huskies rank second in the Mid-American Conference in batting average (.289). Northern Illinois sophomore infielder Stephanie Tofft continued her dominance at the plate. Tofft leads the conference with a .405 batting average and is tied for the Huskies' team lead in RBIs. Behind Tofft is sophomore Shelby Miller. Miller's eight home runs lead the team, and her 27 RBIs are tied with Tofft. Freshman pitcher Megan Dortch has been solid for the Huskies. Dortch's 8.7 strikeouts per seven innings ranks 23rd in the nation and she ranks second in the MAC in K's.
Strides For Autism
For the second straight season, the Kent State softball team is sponsoring Joey Cheney and the Family Child Learning Center during Autism Awareness Month. Joey was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 ½ and has had major breakthroughs in the areas of communication and motor skills since enrolling at the FCLC. The Golden Flashes had the opportunity to see first-hand, the benefits of attending FCLC. During home games throughout the month of April, the softball team will be taking donations to benefit children with autism. Donations can also be made at FirstGiving.com.
Johnson was named Mid-American Conference Co-East Division Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season last week. In her first four conference appearances, Johnson went 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA and two complete game victories. Sophomore Abbey Ledford (West Liberty, Ohio) was named MAC East Player of the Week on Feb. 29.
Team & MAC Leaders
Johnson's 1.79 ERA ranks third in the MAC. She has thrown four shutouts, which is tied for second in the conference. Her 16 complete games are tied for first and her 142 strikeouts are third.
Ledford leads the team with five homers. She ranks seventh in the MAC in runs scored with 24. Her 25 RBIs rank ninth in the conference.
Jess Blanton (Wheelersburg, Ohio) has a team best .330 batting average and a .424 on-base percentage. Her 18 walks rank fifth in the MAC.
Laughlin is tied for fifth in the MAC in doubles per game.
Lauren Mokler (Uniontown, Ohio) carries a team best .505 slugging percentage.
The Golden Flashes will travel to Buffalo for single games April 21 and 22.