The Kent State softball team has won five of the last six games and currently sit on top of the Mid-American Conference standings, which is exactly where the Flashes want to be at this point in the season.
“We have positioned ourselves in a good spot but there are a lot of games left,” coach Eric Oakley said. “The ultimate goal is to win a conference championship and a tournament championship."
On Wednesday, the Flashes beat defending MAC champions Ohio University 1-0 in Athens.
“This was a very cool setting today, to have one game with beautiful weather,” Oakley said. “We are two very similar programs, so to have this single game that meant so much played in the middle of the week was cool.”
They previously split a two game series against Ohio a week ago.
“We played Ohio the week before so we had a little bit of a different plan for them and the way we pitched them resulted in a different result,” Oakley said.
Ohio pitcher Madi McCrady allowed only four hits, with the Flashes’ winning run coming in the sixth inning.
“McCrady did a good job of keeping us off balance,” Oakley said. “We had a couple of silly strikeouts because we weren’t swinging at the right pitches.”
Sophomore left fielder Kennadie Goth led off the sixth inning with a walk and advanced to second on a hit from senior third baseman Bailey Brownfield. When sophomore designated hitter Brenna Brownfield lifted a fly ball to right that was caught, a throw to third kept Goth from advancing on a tag.
Ohio senior third baseman Alex Day attempted to throw to first to tag out freshman pinch runner Brooklyn Whitt who was leaning off the bag, but threw into the wall instead to allow Goth to score from second. The next two hitters were quick outs, but the Flashes had already scored the only run they would need to win the game.
“Basically, it was good baserunning capitalized on an error,” Oakley said. “In recent games, we have shown we can score late to seal a win and that’s what we did.”
Freshman Andrea Scali, who pitched all seven innings, struck out five, walked two and gave up six hits. On average, Scali has allowed four hits per game this season.
“This was not a typical outing for her,” Oakley said. “She only had five strikeouts when she normally has 10, 12 strikeouts, so for her to have most of her outs by pop outs was a little bit of a different approach. It’s awesome to see she can hold an excellent hitting team and hold them to one run in two outings.”
Two of the hits happened in the seventh inning, with two runners being left on base and senior right fielder Jen Cader throwing out Ohio senior right fielder Deanna Cole at home for the final out.
“Our defense has been really stellar through this entire MAC season and that has been a big difference for us,” Oakley said. “Our pitchers can pitch with a lot more confidence when they know the defense has their backs.”
Kent State returns home for a three game series against Miami University over the weekend. The first game starts at 3 p.m. on Friday. Miami is currently second in the MAC, with a 6-3 conference record.
“There is a big weekend ahead, this weekend against Miami who are right behind us,” Oakley said.
Gina Butkovich is a sports reporter. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.