Kent State women’s softball finished the 2018 season with a 29-23 record. It set the single-season team records for runs scored (284), hits (443), RBIs (240) and slugging percentage (.466). Seven different players received post season honors.
For the 2019 senior class, that wasn’t enough.
“At the beginning of the year we met with the seniors and talked about some of the disappointments from last year,” coach Eric Oakley said. “I said, ‘it wasn’t a terrible year.’ And they said, ‘coach, we didn’t win a ring.’ That’s our goal this year. We want to be conference champs. We want to be MAC tournament champs.”
The Flashes currently at 13-18 overall and 3-2 in the Mid-American Conference.
“We feel like we have the kind of talent that we can make some noise in the postseason,” Oakley said. “That was the point of the schedule early on, playing tougher teams, so when we do make it to the NCAA regionals we're not fazed by the venues or by the opponent. Our goals are high. We have to play better than we played today to get their, but we have to be playing our best ball in a month.”
On Tuesday, the Flashes split a double-header against Ohio University. The Bobcats are the defending MAC tournament champions.
“This wasn’t our best day of softball, but we still got a split,” Oakley said. “And that’s a good team. All their power is back, and they are hitting home runs like crazy.”
Ohio University hit six home runs on Tuesday, with five coming in the second game
Redshirt freshman Andrea Scali pitched a complete game in the first game of the double-header, a 2-1 Kent State win.
“It felt really good,” Scali said. “It was a victory for me because last year was rough. It felt good to squash them.”
Last year, Scali tore her ACL two weeks before the season started, sidelining her for the whole season.
“It was pretty awful,” Scali said. “You're really excited to start your freshman year and then it gets ripped away from you in a blink of an eye. But I feel like it’s made me a lot stronger mentally.”
Ohio University left 11 runners on base while Scali recorded eight strikeouts.
“That’s a good hitting team, so to hold them to one run is a positive,” Oakley said. “We were able to make some plays and (Scali) was able to get us some balls that got us out of some innings. I think we saw the top of their order one too many times, so we have to work on minimizing giving them extra batters. But I’ll always put my money on her when it comes down to her and a good hitter.”
In the second game, Ohio only left three runners on base and scored 10 runs.
“We have to do a better job of playing two games consistently,” Oakley said.
The Flashes have previously split series against Youngstown State and Lehigh. The Flashes swept Monmouth and took two out of three from Toledo
“You can’t lay down you have to keep fighting,” Oakley said.
Kent State only had four hits and two runs in the second game. The aforementioned runs came on a pinch hit home run by Alexis Taube in the bottom of the fifth inning.
“I think we showed a little bit of better energy towards the end of the game,” Oakley said. “But we didn’t have enough to keep it going.”
Junior Madi Huck started, recording two strikeouts while giving up seven earned runs.
“Some of it is stuff she needs to work on,” Oakley said. “Some of it is our approach. Defensively we have to know that there's going to be more balls in play with Madi.
Last year that carried us, and this year for some reason we're not playing a solid defense behind her."
Kent State will play Western Michigan in Kalamazoo once on Friday and twice on Saturday, before going to Athens to play Ohio again on Wednesday.
Gina Butkovich is a sports reporter. Contact her a firstname.lastname@example.org.