Flashes to Conclude Regular Season at Akron and Ohio
Kent State closes out Mid-American Conference regular season play this weekend with four road games against East Division rivals. The Golden Flashes (26-24, 11-7) visit Akron for a doubleheader Friday with a PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge point on the line. Kent State then heads south to Athens for single games with Ohio Saturday and Sunday. The Golden Flashes currently hold a one-game lead over the Bobcats (23-26, 10-8) for fourth place in the overall MAC standings, which earns a first round bye at next week's conference tournament.
The 2012 MAC Championships will be held 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.
Kent State's Players and Pitchers of the Week
Senior Shannon Laughlin (Fairview Park, Ohio) was named Mid-American Conference East Division Player of the Week on April 24. In two games at Buffalo, 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.
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 10 games, sophomore Alex Marcantonio (North Canton, Ohio) is hitting .478 with three home runs, two doubles, seven RBIs and a .567 on-base percentage. In four conference games this past weekend, she hit .417 with two home runs and four runs scored.
The Golden Flashes have earned conference road sweeps against Western Michigan and Buffalo.
In her last eight games, Ledford is hitting .417 with a pair of home runs.
Senior Mary Holt (Providence, R.I.) hit her team-leading eighth home run of the year on Sunday. She has driven in 11 runs over her last nine games.
Laughlin is hitting .355 over her last nine games with three doubles and six runs scored.
In her last 10 games, junior Lauren Grimes (Tallmadge, Ohio) is hitting .333 with four doubles a home run, seven runs scored and seven runs batted in.
Over her last 10 games, freshman Dani Ramos (South Euclid, Ohio) is carrying a .432 on-base percentage with 10 runs scored and is 6-for-6 on stolen base attempts.
Senior Lauren Mokler (Uniontown, Ohio) is hitting .405 (15-for-37) with runners in scoring position. Mokler became the 10th player to homer for the Flashes this season.
Kent State's seven home runs at Buffalo on April 22, broke a single-game school record.
After a 4-9 start, Kent State has gone 22-15 since March 4.
The Golden Flashes are 14-of-15 on stolen base attempts in conference play.
Senior Jess Blanton (Wheelersburg, Ohio) has three home runs over her last eight games, while hitting .364.
KSU ranks 56th in the nation in home runs per game (0.82).
Johnson ranks 45th in the nation in strikeouts per seven innings (7.9) and 32nd in saves.
Kent State ranks 26th in the nation in doubles per game (1.38), led by Laughlin with 12. Since last season, Laughlin has totaled 13 doubles in conference play.
Kent State's current RPI is 104 of 289 Division I teams. The Flashes have played 24 games against opponents with Top 100 RPIs.
Since 2006, the Golden Flashes have gone 103-38 in conference play.
Akron (19-29-1, 10-2) ranks second in the MAC and 34th in the nation with a .303 team batting average. The Zips have won five of their last eight games and finished 16-15-1 in non-conference play. Five of Akron's conference losses have been by either one or two-run margins. Junior Alyssa Birkhimer is hitting .368 with seven home runs, nine doubles and ranks sixth in the MAC with 41 RBIs. Freshman Rachael Ratcliffe is batting .326 with eight homers, seven doubles and 30 RBIs. Senior Alex Helfrich is hitting .348 with 26 stolen bases. Freshman Brittany Maurer (3.98) leads the pitching staff with 16 victories and 124 strikeouts.
Ohio (24-27, 10-8) is coming off a doubleheader split at Wright State Wednesday and will take on Buffalo in a doubleheader Friday, before hosting the Flashes. Sophomore Raven King was named MAC East player of the Week Tuesday, after hitting .526 (10-for-19) with 14 RBIs and 10 runs scored over six games. King leads the Bobcats with 12 home runs and a .640 slugging percentage. Junior Lauren Gellerman has also provided power for Ohio with 10 home runs and eight doubles. Senior Jillian Van Wagnen is hitting a team best .358 with 27 stolen bases. Freshman right-hander Lauren McClary is 8-7 in conference play with a 2.77 ERA and 93 strikeouts over 96 innings. The Bobcats are 10-6 at home and 7-3 in conference home games.
Kent State leads Akron 63-41 in the all-time series and has won 13 of the last 14 meetings. The Zips have not defeated the Flashes in Akron since 2005. Last season the rivals split a doubleheader in Kent. Ledford went 4-for-6 with a home run, two walks and four RBIs. Blanton went 3-for-7 with a homer, a double and four RBIs.
The Flashes lead Ohio 56-39 in the all-time series after splitting a pair of games last season. Marcantonio reached base six times against the Bobcats, going 3-for-5 with a double and three runs scored.
Strides For Autism
The Kent State softball team would like to thank everyone for their support of Strides For Autism. The Golden Flashes recently reached their goal of raising $1,000. For the second straight season, six-year old Joey Cheney threw out the first pitch of a game this past weekend. 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 Family Child Learning Center. The Golden Flashes had the opportunity to see first-hand, the benefits of attending FCLC. Donations can still be made through the middle of May at FirstGiving.com.
Team & MAC Leaders
Laughlin ranks sixth in the MAC with 12 doubles. In conference-only games, she is tied for first in the MAC with seven doubles. Grimes is just behind her with six doubles in MAC play.
Johnson's 2.10 ERA ranks fourth in the MAC, while her 207 strikeouts are second. She also ranks in the MAC's Top 10 in shutouts, wins, opponent batting average, innings pitched, saves and complete games.
Ledford leads the team with 30 RBIs, just four shy of cracking Kent State's Top 10 for most in a season. Ledford also has a team-high 47 hits and 31 runs scored.
Ramos has a team best 11 stolen bases.
Blanton leads the Flashes in hitting (.328) and on-base percentage (.448), which ranks sixth in the MAC. Her 31 walks rank third in the MAC.
Marcantonio has a team best .520 slugging percentage.
In conference-only games, Kim Kirkpatrick (Olmsted Falls,Ohio) is sixth in the MAC in stolen bases (6).
Sunday evening, the Golden Flashes will find out their seed and first opponent for next week's MAC Championships. The No. 3-8 seeds will play in the tournament's first four games on Wednesday, May 9.