Kent State 8, Northern Illinois 7
KENT, Ohio - A two out, bases clearing double by Jess Blanton capped off a dramatic five-run seventh inning to lift Kent State past Northern Illinois 8-7 Sunday at the Diamond at Dix. The Golden Flashes (16-19, 6-2 MAC) trailed 6-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth and 7-3 in the seventh with two outs.
With a pair of runners on, Shannon Laughlin laced a double into the right center field gap, cutting the lead to 7-5. The next batter, Beth Cinadr was hit by a pitch on a 1-2 count, bringing Mary Holt to the plate. At that point NIU coach called for the re-entry of starting pitcher Morgan Bittner, who had fanned Holt twice already.
Following several foul balls and a 2-2 count, Holt swung and missed at strike three, which went into the dirt and to the backstop. Holt reached first safely to load the bases for Blanton, who smashed the ball into the left center field gap.
"Every softball player wants to be in that moment," Blanton said of the two out, bases loaded situation. "That play was all Mary (Holt). I don't know how she scored from first. That seventh inning was a team effort for sure."
Taking a look at the outfielder's depth ahead of time, third base coach Karen Linder never hesitated to wave Holt home.
"The one thing I noticed throughout the game was that their center fielder would play in on certain batters with runners on base," Linder said. "Their whole outfield was playing in and I knew all we needed was a gap shot. And J.B. is great at hitting the gap."
Blanton finished with a game high five RBIs, also driving in two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Lauren Grimes went 3-for-4 with an RBI with an RBI double in the fifth, trimming the lead to 6-3. Grimes also gunned down a runner at home plate from center field to end the top of the third.
"I was extremely happy with the way we played defense," Linder said. "And this win was huge. It keeps us right up top and every game is going to be dogfight. Every weekend is going to be like this because there's so much parody in the conference right now."
NIU's Adriana Sanchez lined a two-run homer to left center in the top of the first and the Huskies piled up four runs on four hits in the fourth. KSU needed an answer and Cinadr, who went 2-for-3 on the day, laced a fourth-inning double down the right field line to give the Flashes their initial spark on offense.
Trailing 7-3 in the sixth, the Flashes put two runners on with one out, but could not bring a run across.
"I'm really proud of this team because they kept battling throughout the whole game," Linder said. "A number of times throughout the year we've showed we can score four or five runs at a time. Even though being down four is a difficult spot, I still felt we were capable of tying or even winning. And our energy was really high in the seventh."
The Flashes third pitcher of the day, Danielle Abernathy, tossed the final two innings to earn her ninth win of the year..
The Golden Flashes return to action Wednesday with a non-conference doubleheader at Penn State.
Ohio 3, Akron 2
Ohio 6, Akron 3
ATHENS, Ohio - The Ohio University softball team posted a pair of wins over Mid-American Conference (MAC) East Division rival Akron on Sunday. The Bobcats won their second extra-inning contest in three games with a 3-2 decision in eight innings in the first game, and scored four runs in the fifth en route to a 6-3 win in the night cap.
Junior shortstop Alexis Joseph (Alvin, Texas) went 3-for-7 at the plate with two runs scored and an RBI. Freshman Raven King (Alpine, Utah) batted 3-for-4 with two walks in the twinbill, and senior pitcher/designated player Emily Wethington (New Palestine, Ind.) notched two wins over 10.2 innings pitched and struck out seven batters. After starting the first game, she pitched 2.2 innings of relief for classmate Melissa Bonner (Kings Mills, Ohio) who threw the first 4.1 innings of the second game.
After solo home runs tied the score at one a piece in the first game of the series, rain stopped play on Saturday. When the teams picked up on Sunday, Ohio (14-16, 3-3 MAC) claimed a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth. King drove a leadoff double to right field. After two outs were recorded, freshman Erin Lashley (Pickerington, Ohio), who ran for King, came around to score on an RBI single by Joseph.
The Zips responded in the top of the sixth to even the score at 2-2, when Alissa Birkhimer used an RBI single to left center field to score Katie Gross. Birkhimer finished game one 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs.
After Akron (16-15, 2-4 MAC) left the bases loaded in the seventh, the game went to extra innings. In the eighth, Bonner drove a two-out double off the centerfield wall, and Wethington drove in the game-winning run with a single down the right field line.
Bonner worked out of trouble early in the second game. She loaded the bases in the first inning after hitting two batters and allowing a base hit with one out. Bonner responded by getting one of her team-high three strikeouts and a ground out to end the frame.
The Bobcats got on the board first for the third time in the last four games. Joseph and senior Paige Kemezis (Hackensack, N.J.) notched back-to-back doubles into the outfield gaps. Lashley scored her second run of the day in the fourth to build a 2-0 Ohio lead.
Akron plated three runs in the fifth after an RBI single up the middle by Birkhimer and a two-run double by Sarah Earley. After the Zips' half of the fifth, they held a 3-2 lead.
However, Ohio answered with four runs of its own in the bottom half of the frame to take the lead for good. The Bobcats sent nine batters to the plate in the inning and tallied six hits. Runs were scored on base hits by Bonner, Wethington and senior Jordan Paden (Walla Walla, Wash.). Bonner stole home to account for the fourth run.
Wethington retired eight of the nine batters she faced in 2.2 innings of relief, including the final seven consecutively. She threw 27 pitches and 23 strikes to earn her 11th win of the year.
The Bobcats return to MAC action on Friday, April 15 against the Huskies of Northern Illinois. The teams will meet in a doubleheader with game one scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. in DeKalb, Ill.
Ball State 1, Miami 0
OXFORD, Ohio - With a 1-0 shutout of Miami (16-15, 2-4), Sunday afternoon at the MU Softball Stadium, the Ball State Softball team improved to 24-15 on the season and 5-1 in Mid-American Conference play.
After four scoreless innings, the Cardinals' junior catcher Amanda Montalto (Las Vegas, Nev./Palo Verde) blasted a homer through center field to give Ball State the first and lone run of the contest.
Montalto paced the Cardinals offensively after going a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate. Sophomore pitcher Audra Sanders (Lynnville, Ind./Tecumseh) earned the win after seven innings of work, improving to 13-8 on the season after allowing five hits, while striking out six batters.
Head coach Craig Nicholson and the team return to the BSU Softball Complex for a contest with Wright State Tuesday at 3 p.m.