KSU salvages twinbill split

By Don Dreger Record-Courier assistant sports edi Published:

Kent State University opened the Mid-American Conference softball season at the Allerton softball complex with a doubleheader split with Ball State.

After losing the opener, 1-0 in 12 innings, Kent came back to win the nightcap, 2-0.

Kent is 11-9 overall and 1-1 in the MAC. Ball State is 13-9 overall and 1-1 in the conference.

"I'm happy that we came back to win the second game," said Kent coach Karen Linder. "I felt we played well the first game. Our pitching was good and our defense was good. I'm disappointed that we didn't get the hit at the right time."

"We had too many strikeouts. It was what we talked about between games. In the second game, we learned. We didn't have any (strikeouts)."

In the second game, which featured two left-handed catchers, Kent scored twice in the sixth to earn the split.

In the bottom of the sixth, Kent second baseman Erin Welsh led off with a single. She moved to second on a swinging bunt by left fielder J.J. LaBenz.

Catcher Jamie Kraus sent a double to deep center, scoring Welsh. Right fielder Denae Jones followed with a single putting runners on the corners. Le Ann Fonner hit a hard ball to short, ruled a hit, that Ball State shortstop Heather Hinkle barely knocked down, scoring Kraus. That gave Kent a 2-0 lead.

"I waited for an inside pitch to hit," said Kraus, who is just a freshman. "Coach JoAnn Gordon told me to turn on the next pitch and I did."

Nicole Karasek took the win for the Flashes, improving her record to 3-1, giving up six hits and striking out three. Jessica Rose took the loss, giving up eight hits and striking out none.

"Kent played well and we didn't play the type of ball we are capable of playing," said Ball State coach Terry Laux. "We seemed to be flat for both games. We were lucky to win the first.

"We had a lot of opportunities to win it early but so did Kent. Defensively, we made some great plays but we left our bats at home. Give credit to Kent for taking advantage of their opportunity in the second game."

In the opener of the doubleheader, Erin Carey pitched nine shutout innings for Kent. Unfortunately, Ball State pitcher Cherie Ball, matched her pitch for pitch, going the distance for a 1-0 win in 12 innings.

There were plenty of chances for either team to win the game early. In the top of the ninth, Cardinal Jodi Workman led off with a single up the middle. Laux immediately put pinch runner Jennie Tilford in for Workman.

Heather Windes followed with a sharp single between first and second base. Krista Peterson then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to put Tilford and Windes on second and third.

Carey bore down and struck out the side to get herself out of the first real jam of the ballgame.

Kent had a golden opportunity in the bottom of the ninth as Jamie Oswald walked with one out. Singles by Kraus and Jones loaded the bases but strikeouts by Fonner and Jen Pinti saved the day for the Ball State pitcher.

In the top of the 12th, Hinkle tripled for Ball State and then scored on a ground ball hit by Erin Phelan.

Amy Cheney (Field H.S.), who came on in relief in the 10th, took the loss as Kent failed to score in the bottom of the 12th. Cheney's record dropped to 3-4 as she gave up one run while giving up two hits and striking out one. Carey gave up eight hits but struck out six.

Ball scattered three hits while striking out 12. Her record rose to 7-5.

"We were hurt a little by not having Kerry Kiser in the offensive lineup," said Linder. "She was able to play shortstop but couldn't hold a bat. She has a cut that took five stitches to close in her palm. The doctors don't want her to have pressure on it.

"Kiser is our leadoff hitter and we missed her."

The Golden Flashes are scheduled to host Toledo.

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