And the Kent State softball coach knew her

By Tom Hardesty Record-Courier staff writer Published:

And the Kent State softball coach knew her Golden Flashes were also well aware of the situation.

So, following Kent State's 5-2 loss to Bowling Green in the first game of Friday's Mid-American Conference doubleheader at the Allerton Softball Complex, Linder decided the best course of action was silence.

In other words, there was no need to mention to her team how crucial the nightcap was to Kent State's MAC Tournament hopes.

Her plan worked.

The Flashes scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning of the second game and, behind a stellar pitching performance by freshman Nicole Karasek, made it stand up for a 3-0 victory.

The win, coupled with Ball State's sweep of Ohio on Friday, ensured the Flashes of a berth in the MAC Tournament May 7-9 at a site to be determined.

"I tried to get them to relax and focus (after the first game)," said Linder, whose team moved to 30-22 overall and 14-12 in the MAC, clinching third place in the East Division ahead of Ohio (12-14 MAC). The top three teams in each division qualify for the MAC Tournament.

"We didn't even talk about the conference tournament between games. I didn't want them to get uptight. Last year, we were in a similar situation against Miami. It was the last weekend of the season, and we got uptight and lost three out of four. We ended up getting in (the MAC tourney) anyway, but that's not how you want to do it.

"I really didn't want our kids thinking anything about the conference tournament. I just wanted them to focus on one pitch at a time."

After allowing the Falcons (22-34-1, 15-11, second in the East Division) to score three runs in the top of the seventh to win the first game, the Flashes came out with a vengeance in game two. They scored three times in the first, chasing Bowling Green starter and loser Garrett Gholston (14-23) after pitching only two-thirds of an inning.

Leadoff batter Kerry Kaser walked to start the game and stole second. Erin Welsh followed with a bunt single and Jamie Oswald walked to load the bases with nobody out.

Gholston's control problems continued when she hit Jamie Kraus with a pitch, forcing home Kaser with the game's first run and leaving the bases loaded. Denae Jones' sacrifice fly to left field scored Welsh, and Erin Carey's single to right plated Oswald with the final run of the inning _ and the game.

The Falcons replaced Gholston with Amy Hamilton, who got out of the inning without further damage and ended up pitching the rest of the way. She and Karasek (7-4) each put on a clinic throughout the second game, neither allowing a run.

Karasek ended up scattering seven hits to go with five strikeouts and no walks in pitching the complete-game shutout. Hamilton gave up just four hits, struck out one and also walked none.

"Nicole's off-speed pitch really keeps people off balance," said Linder of Karasek, who didn't allow a baserunner to reach third until the seventh inning. "She's been successful with that all season."

The Flashes were their own worst enemy in the opener, committing four errors that led to three unearned runs.

Kent State took a 1-0 lead in the first when Kraus' single to center scored Welsh.

But two Kent State errors in the fifth allowed Bowling Green to take a 2-1 lead. With one out and Nikki Rouhana on first thanks to a walk, Gina Michael hit a potential double-play grounder to shortstop Kaser. However, the ball went through Kaser's legs and into left field, keeping the inning alive.

Angie Domschot followed with a double to deep right-center off Kent State starter and loser Carey (8-5), scoring Carolina Reitz (pinch-running for Rouhana). A throwing error by Kaser on the same play brought home Michael for a 2-1 lead.

The Flashes tied it up in the bottom of the inning on Kaser's single to center, scoring pinch-runner Susan Roush.

But the bottom fell out in the top of the seventh thanks to a pair of two-out walks and a bloop single by Colleen Bates that gave the Falcons a 4-2 lead.

"We had our chances offensively in the first game," said Linder. "I think we loaded the bases twice. A hit in either of those situations and we could have had a few more runs."

But the Flashes had a comeback of their own _ they came back to win the second game and give themselves a berth in the MAC Tournament for the second straight year.

Kent State concludes the regular season today at 1 p.m. with a MAC doubleheader against Miami at the Allerton Softball Complex.

_____

Bowling Green 5, Kent State 2

(at Kent State)

BOWLING GREEN 000 020 3 _ 5 7 1

KENT STATE 100 010 0 _ 2 7 4

Garrett Gholston, Amy Hamilton (6) & Missy Phillips, Colleen Bates (7). Erin Carey, Amy Cheney (7) & Jennifer Pinti.

WP _ Hamilton (8-11); LP _ Carey (8-5).

Kent State 3, Bowling Green 0

BOWLING GREEN 000 000 0 _ 0 7 0

KENT STATE 300 000 x _ 3 6 1

Garrett Gholston, Amy Hamilton (1) & Colleen Bates. Nicole Karasek & Jamie Kraus.

WP _ Karasek (7-4); LP _ Gholston (14-23).

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.