Flashes Host Pivotal MAC Series with Ball State and Miami in Final Home Weekend
Kent State enters a huge weekend of Mid-American Conference competition as three of the top four teams in the MAC will be in action at the Diamond at Dix. 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 for a doubleheader on Friday, beginning at 1 p.m. Miami (9-5), who is just one game back of the Flashes in fourth place, comes to Kent for single games Saturday and Sunday. Following Sunday's 1 p.m. game, Kent State will honor its eight-member senior class.
Live stats for all games can be viewed at www.KentStateSports.com.
Just two regular season weekends remain prior to the 2012 MAC Championships at Firestone Stadium May 9-12. Like previous seasons, the top eight teams make the double elimination tournament. However, this season, the top two teams in the regular season standings will receive double byes and will not compete until Thursday. The third and fourth seeds receive one bye and take on winners of the opening round games.
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.
In her last four games, Ledford is hitting .538 (7-for-13) with a pair of home runs.
Sophomore Alex Marcantonio (North Canton, Ohio) returned Wednesday after missing three games with an injury. In her last six games, Marcantonio is hitting .545 with a .667 on-base percentage and a 1.000 slugging percentage.
Senior Lauren Mokler (Uniontown, Ohio) is hitting .405 (15-for-37) with runners in scoring position. Mokler hit her first career home run on Sunday, becoming the 10th player to homer for the Flashes this season. KSU ranks 52nd in the nation in home runs per game (0.82).
Kent State's seven home runs in Sunday's opener at Buffalo, broke a single-game school record.
Senior Jess Blanton (Wheelersburg, Ohio) had a pair of home runs in Sunday's game one win over Buffalo.
In her last six games, junior Lauren Grimes (Tallmadge, Ohio) is hitting .429 (9-for-21) with four doubles a home run, six runs scored and six runs batted in.
Over her last six games, freshman Dani Ramos (South Euclid, Ohio) is carrying a .522 on-base percentage and is 5-for-5 on stolen base attempts. In MAC games, Ramos is hitting a team best .391 with 11 runs scored.
After a 4-9 start, Kent State has gone 21-12 since March 4. Since then the Flashes have hit .281 as a team with a 2.86 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.
Kent State's current RPI is 109 of 289 Division I teams. Twenty 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.
Prior to Wednesday's second game with Penn State the Flashes totaled 36 runs on 41 hits over a three-game span.
Ball State (32-12, 10-2) enters the weekend riding a seven-game winning streak. Senior catcher Amanda Montalto garnered MAC West Division Player of the Week honors for leading the team to a 5-0 record last week. Montalto's .406 batting average leads the team and ranks 50th in the nation. The Cardinals' team batting average of .316 ranks first in the MAC and 12th in the nation. Sophomore outfielder Jennifer Gilbert (.353) leads the conference in home runs (14), RBIs (43), runs scored (54) and doubles (16). She ranks third in the nation in doubles per game and seventh in runs scored per game. Accompanying a pitching staff that sports an earned run average of 3.05 is the conference's second-best fielding team. The Cardinals' .968 fielding percentage ranks 44th in the nation.
Miami (28-16, 9-5) enters the weekend coming off a two-game sweep of Eastern Michigan and will play a Friday doubleheader at Buffalo. The RedHawks sport the conference's best pitching staff as the team's earned run average (1.70) ranks tops in the MAC and 15th in the nation. The ace of the pitching staff for Miami is senior right-hander Jessica Simpson. The North Canton native was named the MAC East Pitcher of the Week for the fifth time this season on Tuesday. The senior struck out 43 batters in 30.2 innings pitched last week and did not allow an earned run. She was also the 2011 MAC Pitcher of the Year. Offensively, freshman Shannon McIntyre is hitting .421 in MAC play. Senior Daniela Torres (.316) has a team-high 10 extra-base hits.
Kent State and Miami are tied 46-46 in the all-time series. The RedHawks swept last year's series with a pair of shutouts thrown by Simpson. The last time the teams met in Kent, the Flashes swept a doubleheader and scored five runs on 11 hits in the opener against Simpson. The Golden Flashes lead the all-time series with Ball State 44-28. Audra Sanders threw a shutout for the Cardinals in the lone meeting last season in Muncie. Kent State won both games in 2010 the last time the teams met in Kent.
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 2.10 ERA ranks third in the MAC. She has thrown four shutouts, which is tied for third in the conference. Her 17 complete games are fourth and her 178 strikeouts are second. Johnson's four saves are third in the MAC
Ledford leads the team with seven homers and 30 RBIs.
Grimes and Ledford have a team-high 28 runs scored.
Ramos has a team best .346 batting average and 10 stolen bases. In conference-only games, she is tied for sixth in hits (18).
Senior Jess Blanton leads the Flashes with a .449 on-base percentage, which ranks eighth in the MAC. Her 29 walks rank fourth in the MAC.
In conference-only games, Kim Kirkpatrick (Olmsted Falls,Ohio) is fifth in the MAC in stolen bases (5).
A PNC Wagon Wheel point will be on the line when the Golden Flashes visit rival Akron, Friday, May 4 in a doubleheader.