Flashes Host Penn State Wednesday in Final Non-Conference Doubleheader
Kent State will get its final non-conference test of the season Wednesday, hosting Penn State in a doubleheader at 3 p.m. The Golden Flashes totaled 25 runs on 27 hits, including eight homers and four two-baggers in a doubleheader sweep of Buffalo this past Sunday.
Wednesday's games serve as a tune-up for a huge weekend of Mid-American Conference competition. Kent State currently sits in third place in the overall MAC standings at 10-4, just one game behind Ball State (10-2), who will visit the Diamond at Dix for a doubleheader on Friday. Miami (9-5), who is just one game back of the Flashes in fourth place, comes to Kent for single games Saturday and Sunday. This season, the top two teams in the MAC regular season standings receive double byes at the conference tournament, while the third and fourth seeds receive one bye.
Laughlin Named Player of the Week
Senior Shannon Laughlin (Fairview Park, Ohio) was named Mid-American Conference East Division Player of the Week Tuesday. In two games, Laughlin hit .600 (6-for-10) with two doubles, a home run and seven runs batted in. She carried a 1.100 slugging percentage, a .636 on-base percentage and scored four runs.
In the Flashes' game one, 10-inning marathon victory, Laughlin singled and scored in the ninth and hit a home run in the 10th. Kent State put up four-run first innings in both games against the Bulls, each of which started with RBI doubles by Laughlin.
Laughlin joins Abbey Ledford (West Liberty, Ohio) as the second Kent State player to earn MAC Player of the Week honors this season. Emma Johnson (Groveport, Ohio) has earned two Pitcher of the Week honors.
A Tough Out
In her last four games played, sophomore Alex Marcantonio (North Canton, Ohio) is carrying a .769 on-base percentage, reaching base 10 times in her last 13 plate appearances. In her last four games, Marcantonio is hitting .625 with a 1.125 slugging percentage. An injury has prevented her from playing in the Flashes' last three games.
Kent State's seven home runs in Sunday's opener at Buffalo, broke a single-game school record.
Ledford hit .500 (4-for-8) in Sunday's doubleheader with a pair of home runs and four runs batted in.
Senior Jess Blanton (Wheelersburg, Ohio) had a pair of home runs in Kent State's game one win over Buffalo.
In her last four games, junior Lauren Grimes (Tallmadge, Ohio) is hitting .500 (8-for-16) with four doubles and a home run.
Over her last four games, freshman Dani Ramos (South Euclid, Ohio) is carrying a .529 on-base percentage and is 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts. In MAC games, Ramos is hitting a team best .391 with 11 runs scored.
Senior Lauren Mokler (Uniontown, Ohio) hit her first career home run on Sunday. She became the 10th player to homer for the Flashes this season. KSU ranks 52nd in the nation in home runs per game (0.82).
After a 4-9 start, Kent State has gone 20-11 since March 4.
In non-conference games, Johnson has four shutouts and carries a 1.86 ERA. Johnson ranks 47th in the nation in strikeouts per seven innings (7.7) and 27th in saves.
Kent State ranks 19th in the nation in doubles per game (1.43), led by Laughlin with 11. Since last season, Laughlin has totaled 12 doubles in conference play.
In her last non-conference start, junior Danielle Abernathy (Adairsville, Ga.) was perfect through six innings, retiring the first 18 Robert Morris batters she faced.
Kent State's current RPI is 109 of 289 Division I teams. Eighteen of the Flashes' games played have come against opponents with higher RPIs.
In conference only games, the Golden Flashes rank fourth in the MAC with a 3.09 ERA.
Penn State (13-26, 5-10 Big Ten)has played a difficult schedule, carrying an RPI of 101. Junior outfielder Cassidy Bell's .364 average and seven home runs pace the Nittany Lions' offense. Adding to the team's offensive output is sophomore catcher Kasie Hatfield, who leads the team with 20 RBIs on the season. Hatfield was an integral part of Penn State winning 2-of-3 games against Indiana on April 14 and 15. The right-handed hitter took home the Big Ten Player of the Week for hitting .400 during the series, including her first career grand slam in a 9-4 win over the Hoosiers on April 15. The Nittany Lions struggled to follow up the performance last weekend, being swept by Wisconsin in a three game series. While senior right-handed pitcher Lisa Akamine ranks fifth in the Big Ten in strikeouts (127), the pitching staff has combined for a team earned run average of 4.81 in 39 games.
Penn State leads the all-time series with Kent State 24-15 and has won the last six meetings. Last season, the Nittany Lions needed extra innings in game two to complete a doubleheader sweep. Ledford hit a two-run homer in game two, while Grimes had a hit in each game. The Flashes last defeated Penn State in 2008.
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.
Team & MAC Leaders
Laughlin leads the Flashes with 11 doubles, which ranks fifth in the MAC and 96th in the nation. In conference-only games, she is tied for first in the MAC with Grimes in doubles (6) .
In conference-only games, Laughlin is eighth in the MAC in RBI (13), sixth in total bases (30) and 10th in slugging percentage.
Johnson's 2.04 ERA ranks third in the MAC. She has thrown four shutouts, which is tied for third in the conference. Her 16 complete games are tied for fourth and her 170 strikeouts are second. Johnson's four saves are third in the MAC
Ledford leads the team with seven homers and 30 RBIs.
Grimes has a team-high 28 runs scored.
Ramos has a team best .333 batting average and nine stolen bases. In conference-only games, she is tied for sixth in hits (18).
Senior Jess Blanton leads the Flashes with a .441 on-base percentage, which ranks eighth in the MAC. Her 27 walks rank fourth in the MAC.
In conference-only games, Kim Kirkpatrick (Olmsted Falls,Ohio) is fifth in the MAC in stolen bases (5