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KENT, Ohio—Big fifth innings proved to be the key as the Kent State softball team rallied for a pair of wins over rival Akron on Saturday afternoon at the Diamond at Dix to finish 3-1 on the opening weekend of Mid-American Conference play. The Golden Flashes came away with a 2-1 victory in the first game and closed the sweep with 5-3 win, earning a crucial point for Kent State in the PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge.
"I'm very pleased with how we were able to battle back in both of those games today," said head coach Karen Linder. "You would like to be able to win all of your games when it is your home weekend, but we did a great job to win three out of four given the circumstances."
Saturday marked the first time the Golden Flashes (12-12, 3-1 MAC) were able to play on their home field at the Diamond at Dix. Weather conditions from earlier in the week made the field unplayable and forced the Flashes to travel to Athens for Friday's "home" doubleheader.
For the second straight day, Kent State received an outstanding performance from sophomore pitcher Emma Johnson (Groveport, Ohio), who earned her second victory of the weekend to improve to 9-6. Johnson allowed just three hits and completely shut the Zips down after scoring a run in the top of the third inning. Only one batter reached base over the final four innings, as Johnson retired the final eight batters she faced to end the game.
The Flashes scored both runs in the fifth after collecting just one hit in the first four innings. Seniors Lauren Grimes (Tallmadge, Ohio) and Lauren Balodis (North Royalton, Ohio) started the rally with singles and freshman Erika Warren (North Canton, Ohio) moved them into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Linder then sent junior Kim Morgason (Grove City, Ohio) in to pinch hit, and Morgason came through with a clutch double down the left field line that allowed both runs to score.
In the second game, Akron took advantage of a Kent State miscue to get on the scoreboard first. Alexa Montesano scored on a groundout by McKenzi Rhodes, who moved to third base on a throwing error. Rachael Ratcliffe blasted a two-run home run over the left field fence to give the Zips a three-run cushion.
Kent State responded to tie the game with three runs in the bottom portion of the inning, all coming with two outs. Sophomore Kim Kirkpatrick (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) started the rally with a double and was able to score on a single by sophomore Dani Ramos (South Euclid, Ohio). Junior Abbey Ledford (West Liberty, Ohio) sent a ball deep to right field that the Akron fielder was able to haul in, scoring Ramos. Freshman Shelbi Tilton (Massillon, Ohio) brought Ledford, who advanced to second on the error, around to score on a single to centerfield.
Freshman Lauren Kesterson (Everett, Wash.) got the fifth inning started with a single and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Kirkpatrick. Ramos then singled and Ledford reached on an error by the pitcher on a ball hit back up the middle, loading the bases for the Flashes. Tilton delivered her second hit of the day to allow the go-ahead run to cross the plate and Grimes followed with an RBI groundout to conclude the scoring.
Senior Lauren McNeil (Akron, Ohio) earned the victory, her third of the season for the Flashes. McNeil pitched five innings with two strikeouts. Only two of the three runs she allowed were earned. Johnson entered after Kent State took its first lead of the game and shut the Zips down over the final two innings to record her first save of the season. She threw nine innings on the day, allowing just one run and four hits, while striking out seven batters.
"Emma (Johnson) really did a nice job for us today," Linder said. "Our pitching and defense is what allowed us to stay in both games. And we were able to get some clutch hits and take advantage of a few mistakes that they made."
Freshman Erin Seiler (8-9) was the pitcher of record in both games for Akron. Seiler allowed seven runs (four earned) on 11 hits in 11 innings of work on the day. She entered as the conference's leader in strikeouts, but recorded just two on the day.
Kent State goes back on the road next weekend with a doubleheader at Eastern Michigan on Friday and games at Central Michigan on Saturday and Sunday.
Ball State 14, Toledo 5
Toledo, OH - Toledo (5-19, 0-4 MAC) gained its first lead in four games this weekend in the nightcap against Ball State (18-10, 4-0 MAC) on Saturday, but was unable to hold on and was swept for the second consecutive day at Scott Park, 14-5 & 10-7.
After dropping the early contest, UT starter Marla Gooding (6.2 IP, 8 H, 9 ER, 4 K, 3 BB) found her groove in the second game and kept the league's top offense in check by holding them hitless through four of the five opening frames.
UT gained an early 2-0 lead off an RBI double by sophomore shortstop Allisa Turkovitch (2-for-4) and tacked on two more later after a pair of BSU runs for a 4-2 advantage. The runs plated by Turkovitch were her first RBI's of the season.
Gooding retired the first two batters to open the sixth, but the Cardinals' three-hole hitter, Jenny Gilbert, provided instant offense with her fourth home run of the day to tie the game. She finished an impressive 6-for-8 (.750) with four homers, a double, seven runs batted in and six runs scored.
Controversy ensued shortly after when a BSU runner tested the arm of UT right fielder Lindsey Tobias and was called safe on a close play that would've ended the inning. The next batter laced a double to the right-center gap, allowing both runs to score and shifting the mometum completely into Ball State's favor.
The Cardinals cushioned their lead with five more in the seventh to make it 10-4. That proved to be valuable as Tobias (2-for-4) clubbed her third long ball of the season to score three in Toledo's final at-bat, but UT couldn't mount the comeback and fell 10-7.
Toledo struggled to get things going in the first game with four miscues on defense, while Ball State scored a run in six of the seven innings for an easy 14-5 win.
Senior infielder Courtney McCarthy carried over her outstanding performance from yesterday into the opening game with another multi-hit effort, going 3-for-4 with a double and her second home run while plating three runs.
Four Rockets had two hits apiece in the nightcap, including junior Lani Ernst (2-for-4; 2 R), junior Erinn Wright (2-for-4), Turkovich and Tobias.
BSU's Nicole Steinbach (7-7) earned the complete-game win in game one, while Audra Sanders (5-2) claimed the game two victory in relief.
Toledo out-clubbed Ball State in game two 12-9, but was out-hit in the first game 18-8.
UT will be back in action on Wednesday, April 3 in a road doubleheader at Dayton (11-14). The first game of the non-conference tilt is slated for 3:00 p.m. at UD Softball Stadium.
DEKALB, Ill. – A three-run seventh proved to be the difference as Western Michigan handed the Northern Illinois University softball team a 7-6 setback in Mid-American Conference action at Mary M. Bell Field Saturday.
“They continued to play to according to their strengths and when push came to shove they did a nice job of staying in it and putting the pressure on us,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe on Western Michigan. “Unfortunately, we didn’t make the plays when it mattered.
“You can always get better at playing when the game’s on the line. This is what the MAC’s all about, one-run games. There aren’t too many blowouts in our conference. We have to learn to play under pressure. Better now than come May.”
Northern Illinois lead much of the game, scoring two runs in the first, three in the third and one in the fifth to take a 6-2 lead into the sixth inning. Sophomore Emily Norton (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) held the Broncos (10-17, 1-1) in check for five innings, allowing two runs on five hits.
However, the Western Michigan offense got to Norton in the sixth. A lead-off double by Caity Pixley started the rally. A hit batter and two-out walk loaded the bases. Pixley scored from third on a wild pitch for the first run of the inning, while a single by Diane Patterson pulled WMU to within a run and chased Norton from the game.
Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) came in to get the final out of the sixth and faced the Broncos in the top of the seventh. The Broncos capitalized on a pair of Huskie errors to take the lead in the seventh, scoring three runs on two hits and two errors.
A hit batter, error and single loaded the bases for Western Michigan in the top of the seventh with no outs. Pixley pulled the Broncos to within a run on her RBI single and a Marleen Rodriguez ground out scored the tying run. The lead Bronco run scored a Huskie error.
Northern Illinois had a chance to tie the game in bottom of the inning as Erika Oswald (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) moved to third after stealing second and advancing to third on a wild pitch with no outs. However four Huskie batters failed to drive her in and NIU suffered its first MAC loss of the season.
Jennifer Barnett (Indianapolis, Ind./Roncalli) led the way for the NIU offense, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored. Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) went 1-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.
The Huskies return to the field Wednesday when NIU faces travels to Bloomington, Ill. to take on Illinois State. First pitch is set for at 4 p.m. and fans can follow all the action live, via Gametracker at NIUHuskies.com.
BUFFALO, NY - Freshman Nicole Aviles pitched a complete game one-hitter with 12 strikeouts on Saturday afternoon as she helped lead the Bulls to a doubleheader split with Ohio at Nan Harvey Field. The victory was UB’s first in MAC play, winning the second game, 4-3. Ohio took the opener, 8-1.
Aviles was dealing in the second game of the doubleheader as she didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning. She had six strikeouts through the first four innings during which UB took a 2-0 lead. The Bulls had two runners in scoring position with just one out when a passed ball scored sophomore Alexis Curtiss from third base. UB tacked on a second run in the bottom of the fourth as pinch runner Kenzie Koch scored on a long double to left field from junior Heather Ryder, her first hit and run batted in at UB.
The Bulls held the 2-0 lead into the fifth inning when a few defensive miscues gave Ohio the lead, despite the brilliant pitching from Aviles. Two runs came in to score on a wild pitch, while a third came in on a dropped fly ball in center field. It wouldn’t be the last time that center field play was the story in this game. UB got out of the inning trailing 3-2, but that didn’t last long as junior Sammi Gallardo opened the bottom half of the inning with home run to left center, tying the game up at 3-3.
Following a scoreless top of the sixth, the Bulls got a one-out single from freshman Anissa Pinedo, who was replaced on the base paths by junior Holly Luciano. After a perfect sacrifice bunt from freshman Ryleigh Fitzgerald, which moved Luciano to second, Ryder came up again and hit a high fly ball into center field, which was unable to be caught by the Ohio center fielder, scoring Luciano with the go-ahead run. Aviles came out in the top of the seventh and struck out the first two batters before walking the next two. She came back to strike out the final batter, her 12th of the game.
Aviles improved to 3-1 with the win allowing just one hit and three unearned runs. She walked five and struck out 12. Senior Jessica Griffin went 2-for-3 in the contest as the Bulls had seven hits.
“I thought Nicole was outstanding this afternoon and she listened to her catcher and the pitches being called,” said head coach Jen Teague. “She worked through some issues in the field and got us an important first MAC win today.”
The Bobcats got on the board quickly in the first game scoring a run in the top of the first off Ryder, who pitched the complete game in the opener. Ohio had its biggest offensive inning in the third with four runs and added another two in the sixth and one in the seventh. It took to the bottom of the seventh inning for the Bulls to get on the board as Pinedo doubled into left field, scoring Koch, who pinch ran following a single from Griffin.
Ryder picked up the loss despite pitching all 7.0 innings, allowing 10 hits and six walks, while striking out four. Lauren McClary, who picked up the loss for Ohio in game two, recorded the victory in the opener, allowing just four hits and striking out six. UB got singles hits from Gallardo, Griffin, Pinedo and Tori Pettine in the first game.
The Bulls will step out of conference play for a doubleheader on Wednesday at Niagara. The first game begins at 3:00 pm.
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio -- The Bowling Green State University softball team earned a split with Miami University Saturday afternoon, falling to the RedHawks in game one, 3-2, before bouncing back with a 5-1 victory. The Falcon's game-two win marks their first MAC victory of the season, giving them a conference record of 1-3 with a 13-11 record overall.
Freshman Marisa Shook collected one of the Falcons’ six hits in game one, going 1-for-4 with two RBI. Sophomore Paris Imholz (9-4) was credited with the loss, giving up three earned runs and striking out three in the first 6.1 innings. Sophomore Jamie Kertes also saw action, allowing just one hit on the final two batters of the sixth inning.
Miami jumped out to the early lead, scoring the game’s first run on three hits in the top of the first inning. Bowling Green escaped further damage, however, as Imholz forced a pop up for the third out with the bases loaded. The RedHawks would add two more runs to their lead, giving Miami the 3-0 advantage heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
With one out and a runner on, two straight singles from junior Katie Yoho and senior Adrienne Dick loaded the bases for the Falcons in the final frame. Shook belted a two-run single to left field in the next at bat, bringing Bowling Green to within one run of a tie. However, the Falcons were unable to cross the plate a third time in the inning, giving Miami the 3-2 game-one win.
Dick led Bowling Green with a 2-for-3 performance in game two, earning three RBI in the victory. Junior Erika Stratton also went 2-for-3, while Shook earned her fourth career double in a 1-for-4 outing. Kertes (4-6) earned the complete-game victory, striking out four and holding the RedHawks to zero earned runs.
Bowling Green jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in game two, putting up three runs on five hits in the bottom of the first. Singles from seniors Hannah Fulk and Paige Berger started the frame, followed by a walk to Yoho to load the bases. Dick made the most of the early opportunity and fired a two-run single to right field. Another RBI single from sophomore Chloe Giordano capped the scoring, putting the Falcons up early.
The Orange and Brown added to the lead in the bottom of the second, putting up two more runs on two hits to put the score at 5-0 in favor of the Falcons. Kertes held the RedHawks to just one run in the remainder of the contest, giving Bowling Green the 5-1 win over Miami for the doubleheader split.
The Falcons are back in action this Tuesday, April 2 in a doubleheader at Detroit Mercy. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.
YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) – The Eastern Michigan University softball team dropped its second Mid-American Conference game of the 2013 campaign, 3-0, against Central Michigan University. The Eagles were unable to pick-up a second-straight victory despite stellar pitching performances Saturday, March 30, at Varsity Field.
Lauren Wells (Lowell, Ind.-Lowell) earned the start for Eastern (10-13-1, 1-1 MAC) and was charged with the loss. Wells (0-7) tossed the opening 3.2 innings and was touched for just one run on four hits, while striking out three. Lindsay Rich (Perrysburg, Ohio-Perrysburg) tossed the final 3.1 innings for EMU, surrendering two runs on # hits. Chelsea Sundberg (4-3) picked up her fourth win of the season, tossing a complete game shutout for the Chippewas (13-11, 1-1 MAC).
Offensively, the Eagles were held to just two base hits, one from Nellie Coquillard (Niles, Mich.-Niles) and one from Amanda Stanton (Homer Glen, Ill.-Lockport Township).
Central threatened in the second with a pair of doubles but it was a stellar relay from the outfield that gun down Katelyn Rentschler at home. Courtney Nicholson (Navarre, Ohio-Canton Central Catholic) tossed a frozen rope from right field to the second baseman Stanton who relayed a throw to the catcher Courtney Loe (Temperance, Mich.-Bedford), who then delivered the tag on Rentschler at the plate to keep the Chippewas off the board.
In the bottom half of the second, Coquillard snuck a single through left side of the infield and then stole second. In the next at-bat, Stanton reached safely on a miscue from the Chips' third baseman to put runners at first and second with one out, but the Eagles were unable to convert on the early opportunity.
The Chippewas struck first in the fourth inning when CarolAnn Sexauer hit her second home run of the series to give CMU a 1-0 lead with two outs. Central continued to get to Wells, putting runners at second and third with two outs, prompting Head Coach Karen Baird to go to the bullpen and bring in Rich. Rich got the Eagles out of the inning with a groundout.
Central launched another long ball in the top of the seventh when Cory DeLamielleur poked a ball over the fence with a runner on second to give the Chips a 3-0 lead, which is where the score remained through the rest of the contest.
Eastern is off until Wednesday, April 3, when they play host to the Crusaders of Valparaiso, for a doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. which is an hour earlier than the originally scheduled game time due to the threat of darkness.