Story Courtesy of KSU Media Relations
AKRON, Ohio - After going 13 innings without scoring a run, Kent State rallied for five runs in the seventh for a 5-2 come-from-behind victory over Eastern Michigan Thursday, during day two of the MAC Tournament at Firestone Stadium. Sophomore Danielle Abernathy tossed 5.1 innings of relief without allowing a run.
"Danielle has grown so much in the last week," Head Coach Karen Linder said "It's incredible how much she's matured as a pitcher. She's doing a great job pitching with confidence, keeping her composure and hitting her spots to get ahead in the count."
With Eastern Michigan leading 2-0, Abernathy entered the game in the second inning with two runners on and two outs. She got the next batter to pop out and never got rattled the rest of the way through. Abernathy left the bases loaded in the fourth and left five more runners on in the last three innings.
However, Kent State was also leaving runners on. The Flashes stranded eight in the first six innings with no runs on the board for the second straight tournament game.
"We knew it would be a close battle," Linder said. "But I was confident we could hit their pitching because we just played them this past weekend. I felt like our hitters got better as the game went on with their pitch selection."
Eagle starter Jenna Ignowski tossed six scoreless innings, but was replaced to start the seventh and reliever Jamie Melchert walked Holly Finchum on four straight pitches. After a fifth straight ball out of the zone to Lauren Grimes, Melchert was replaced by Lauren Wells. Grimes then looped a double to left, just missing the diving glove of outfielder McKenna Russ.
"Throughout the game, we never lost our composure," Linder said. "The players got together before the seventh inning and talked about believing and trusting in each other. We went up there very confidently and took advantage of their mistakes."
With runners still on second and third and one out, Jess Carmichael drove an outside pitch through the right side, scoring both Finchum and Grimes. Shannon Laughlin then drew a walk and Beth Cinadr singled to left to load the bases for Abbey Ledford. Already with three singles, Ledford made it a 4-for-4 day with a single to left, giving the Flashes a 3-2 lead.
"Abbey has been one of the most consistent performers for us all year offensively and defensively," Linder said. "She puts the extra time in and she's confident."
With two outs in the seventh, Jess Blanton hit a hard grounder through the legs of Nellie Coquillard to bring home two more runs.
EMU did not go away quietly in the bottom of the seventh, drawing a pair of walks to put the tying run at the plate. Ledford then made a diving backhanded stab and tossed to second from her knees for the game's final out. It was her second diving stop of the game.
"We know we're a good hitting team," Carmichael said. "It was just a matter of staying persistent and making adjustments. It was do or die for us in the seventh and we made the adjustments that we needed to."
Friday, Kent State will take on the loser of Thursday's Ohio-Central Michigan game at 11 a.m. If the Flashes win, they would play again Friday at 7:30 p.m