Flashes Take Two to Open 2013 Softball Season
Kent State takes advantage of miscues, delivers timely hits to win pair on opening day of Plainsman Invite.
AUBURN, Ala. – The Kent State softball team won its first two games of the Plainsman Invitational Friday at Auburn's Jane B. Moore Field. The Golden Flashes topped East Tennessee State, 5-4, in the opener and then defeated Army in the nightcap, 5-2.
"You have to be pleased any time you can get two wins your first time out," said head coach Karen Linder.
The Kent State lineup did its damage early against ETSU, scoring all five runs in the first two innings. After being hit by a pitch, sophomore Kim Kirkpatrick (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) advanced to second on an illegal pitch. Sophomore Dani Ramos (South Euclid, Ohio) moved her to third on a bunt single. Ramos was then thrown out attempting to steal second, but Kirkpatrick was able to come home on the play for the first run of the game. Junior Kim Morgason (Grove City, Ohio) reached on an error and scored on a double by senior Lauren Grimes (Tallmadge, Ohio).
After surrendering three runs in the top of the second, the Flashes were able to regain the lead with three runs in the bottom of the inning without recording a hit. An error, a walk, and hit batter loaded the bases for the Flashes. The bases were not full for long thanks to junior Abbey Ledford (West Liberty, Ohio), who knocked in three runs with a two-out double.
"We really took advantage of mistakes by the other team and came through with some clutch hits," Linder said. "Lauren and Abbey had clutch hits for us in that first game."
Kent State would only get one more hit the rest of the way, but that was all of the run support junior Lauren McNeil (Akron, Ohio) needed. McNeil recorded seven strikeouts in the complete game victory. She allowed six hits and was nearly unhittable aside from a pair of home runs by ETSU's Sam Carpenter that generated all of the team's four runs.
"Lauren gave up those two big hits, but other than that, she pitched very well for us," Linder said. " She was able to recover and shut down their momentum after the home runs. That was huge."
The Flashes never trailed in the nightcap, striking first on a throwing error in the third inning. A pair of walks and an error loaded the bases for Kent State in the forth inning. Freshman Lauren Kesterson (Everett, Wash.) doubled down the left field line to clear the bases, just as Ledford had done in the opener. Kesterson finished 2-for-2 from the plate and scored two runs.
Sophomore Emma Johnson (Groveport, Ohio) picked up where she did a season ago, striking out 11 batters and allowing just five hits in the victory.
"Emma took awhile to get in a rhythm, but once she did, she had a nice game."
Despite only nine hits on the day, the Flashes were able to produce 10 runs. They were able to capitalize on six errors by their opponents with timely hitting.
"As a team, we will be better hitting the ball than what we showed today," Linder said.
Kent State continues play at the Plainsman Invitational on Saturday against host Auburn at 1:30 p.m. and Furman at 4:00 p.m.