Flashes Smash Seven Homers in 10-Inning Win and Go On to Sweep Buffalo
BUFFALO, N.Y.- Finding a way to win close games has been a recurring theme for the Kent State softball team this season. The Golden Flashes (24-20, 10-4 MAC) took that theme to a whole different level Sunday with a 10-inning, 14-11 opening game victory over Buffalo in a contest that saw 32 hits and nine home runs. Kent State completed the sweep with a 9-6 win at Nan Harvey Field, which featured another 20 hits.
"The whole day was a battle," Head Coach Karen Linder said. "I was really happy with the way our offense kept responding. And I can't ever remember one of our teams hitting seven home runs in a game."
In the opener, a feisty Buffalo team trailed 6-1 early on, scored twice in the seventh to force extra innings and scored three times in the ninth to force one more frame.
The Flashes jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first, beginning with a two-run double to center by senior Shannon Laughlin (Fairview Park, Ohio). Junior Lauren Grimes (Tallmadge, Ohio) followed with a two-run single to center.
"Shannon had a ton of big hits today," Linder said. "The middle of our order really came through for us."
After the Bulls responded with a run in the first, senior Jess Blanton (Wheelersburg, Ohio) extended the lead to 6-1 with a two-run homer to center on a hit-and-run. Freshman Dani Ramos (South Euclid, Ohio) scored for the second time in as many innings on Blanton's homer.
A grand slam to center field by Holly Luciano in the bottom of the second brought Buffalo back to within a run (6-5).
Center field continued to be the popular spot as sophomore Abbey Ledford (West Liberty, Ohio) hit a solo homer there in the fifth and Grimes went to deep center in the seventh. The Flashes led 8-6 heading into the bottom of the seventh, before a leadoff walk set up a two-run homer to right center for Kristin Waldron.
Both teams were held scoreless in the eighth, but Kent State came up with three runs in the ninth. Laughlin led off the inning with an infield single and scored on a double by Grimes. A sac fly by senior Mary Holt (Providence, R.I.) plated Grimes and senior Lauren Mokler (Uniontown, Ohio)
sent a two-out solo shot over the right field fence. It was the first home run of her career.
The 11-8 lead was not enough as Buffalo came back with three runs of its own in the ninth on four hits and a hit batter. Freshman Emma Johnson (Groveport, Ohio) started the game and re-entered in the ninth, leaving two runners on.
"Our defense was very sharp in the first game," Linder said. "Our pitchers didn't have their best stuff, but they battled. It was so cold it was hard for them to feel the ball."
Blanton, Laughlin and Ledford gave the Flashes their fifth, sixth and seventh home runs of the game in the top of the 10th. Johnson struck out the side in the 10th to end the 3 hour and 40 minute marathon. She fanned 12 batters in 7.2 innings.
Much like the opener, the Flashes put up four first-inning runs in game two. And just like game one, Laughlin got the scoring started with a two-run double.
Holt led off the top of the third with a deep drive to left, extending the lead to five. An infield error in the bottom half of the inning helped the Bulls come up with their first two runs.
Grimes doubled and scored in the fourth, making it a 6-2 game, but buffalo came right back with two more runs in the fourth, again with the help of an infield error.
Laughlin delivered again in the fifth with a bases loaded single, driving home two more runs. Ledford tacked on another run with sac fly to left field.
Laughlin ended the day with six hits, while Grimes had five. laughlin drove in seven runs, while Ledford and Grimes each drove in four.
Junior Danielle Abernathy (Adairsville, Ga.) got the start and the win in game two, while Johnson earned a two-inning save.
"I was wearing two coats and three pairs of pants and was still cold," Linder of the seven and a half hour doubleheader.
The Golden Flashes will host Penn State in a doubleheader Wednesday at 3 p.m.