Kent State softball kicked off its 2020 season, going 3-1 in the Red and Black Showcase against the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Howard and no. 16 University of Georgia.
Kent State 5 vs. UNCW 3
Pitcher Madi Huck struck out five Seahawks over four innings to secure her first win of the season. Huck gave up one run off of three hits and walked three.
The Seahawks struggled defensively, giving up two unearned runs on two throwing errors. The Flashes were able to capitalize on the Seahawks’ errors, which helped secure the 5-3 win over UNCW.
Sophomore infielder Sabrina Kerschner went 3 for 4 with a double and two singles. She scored two runs for the Flashes. Her offensive support backed up strong pitching performances from Huck and Anilese Kelly, who recorded her first career save.
“Sabrina and Kennedy as our one-two were great this weekend. … It was a nice weekend for her to kind of get her feet under her and she had a great opportunity,” coach Eric Oakley said.
Kelly pitched three innings of relief, giving up two runs on two hits. Kelly and Huck struck out 10 Seahawks, and only gave up five walks.
Georgia 10 vs. Kent State 1 (F/5)
Junior utility Brenna Brownfield hit her first home run of the season off of Georgia’s pitcher Lauren Mathis. It was the only run Mathis would allow over five dominant innings against the Flashes.
The Flashes had multiple opportunities to score when in the top of the third; the bases were loaded after Brownfield was intentionally walked. The Flashes weren’t able to get a hit and left three women on base.
Going into the bottom of the fourth inning, the Flashes were only down one, but weren’t able to limit the Bulldogs’ offense. Georgia scored eight runs in the bottom half of the fourth to win 10-1.
Redshirt sophomore and Mid American Conference Pitcher of the Year Andrea Scali gave up eight runs on seven hits over 3 ⅔ innings. Despite giving up seven hits, she struck out five and walked three.
“Georgia did a good job of putting pressure on our defense with trying to take extra bases. So we were kinda defensively making some mistakes and that can rattle a pitcher when things are happening behind you,” Oakley said.
Kent State 8 vs. Howard 1
In Scali’s second start of the season, she was able to shake off her struggles against Georgia and gave up only two hits over seven innings.
The redshirt sophomore’s dominant performance showed why she won MAC Pitcher of the Year, striking out 11 Bison and walking three. Scali secured her first win of the season as the Flashes beat the Bisons 8-1.
Howard’s pitcher Nevaeh Castruita didn’t make it through one inning. The freshman pitcher pitched a ⅓ inning, giving up five runs on four hits, and was unable to record a strikeout.
The Flashes’ offense was led by Brownfield, who went 1 for 2. In the bottom of the first, Brownfield homered to left center for her second home run of the season, with a two-run shot to score Kennadie Goth.
“She’s a dangerous part of our lineup for other teams because she can make good contact and there’s so much power behind it when she does,” Oakley said.
Three batters later, Madyson Cole hit her first home run of the season against Howard with a two-run shot to center to score Maria Cegledy. The two home runs would be enough to take Castruita out of the game.
Kent State 9 vs. Howard 1 (F/6)
In the first inning, Brownfield hit her third home run in three days to give the Flashes a 2-0 lead. The junior utility player hit a shot over the left field fence to drive in her and Goth.
Brownfield finished the day going 2 for 4 with three RBIs and a run. The Flashes’ strong offensive performance helped Kent State beat Howard 9-1 in six innings.
“Starting out with the home run against Georgia, every home run she hit was just a no-doubter off the bat, just crushed it. And you know, that’s just the kind of power she has,” Oakley said.
Freshman second baseman Morgan Bowers both hit and scored runs, going 4 for 4 with two RBIs. In the top of the second, Bowers hit her first home run of the season with a solo shot to center.
With the Flashes’ strong offensive game, Kelly shut down the Bison offense and threw four innings, giving up one run on four hits. She secured her first win of the season without recording a strikeout.
The Flashes’ second game against Georgia was cancelled due to weather.
Kent State will resume tournament play Feb. 14 in the Maverick Classic in Arlington, TX against Kansas City, Texas Southern, Stephen F. Austin and University of Texas at Arlington.
Amanda Levine is a sports editor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.