Record-Courier staff report
The Kent State softball team displayed its ability to win different types of games in sweeping Toledo in a doubleheader Friday afternoon at the Diamond at Dix in Kent.
Junior Emma Johnson no-hit the Rockets as the Golden Flashes' offense exploded to take the opening game 13-0 in five innings, while freshman Ronnie Ladines was nearly as good in a 1-0 shutout victory in the nightcap to complete the MAC sweep.
"It was great to be able to get two wins day," Kent State coach Karen Linder said. "Emma did a wonderful job on the mound and the offense had a really good day. Toledo made some mistakes and we were able to take advantage of those."
Johnson (10-7) was finally able to get the no-hitter that had eluded her after throwing a pair of one-hitters earlier this season. She retired the final 13 batters she faced, and a walk to Toledo's Lani Ernst in the top of the first inning was the lone thing keeping her from perfection. Johnson was almost literally unhittable, as she recorded nine strikeouts and only five batters managed to put the ball in play.
While Johnson was putting on a show in the pitcher's circle, her teammates put on an offensive clinic. The Flashes exploded for 13 runs and 10 hits, matching their highest run total of the season in only four innings.
The Flashes' bats cooled in the second game, but received timely hitting to come away with the 1-0 victory. A single by Patterson in the fourth was Kent State's lone hit entering the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Grimm blooped a double that hit the left-field line. After advancing on a sac bunt by junior Dani Ramos, Grimm came home to score the winning run on a two-out double to the gap in left-center by Kirkpatrick.
Ladines (5-5) allowed just four hits in tossing the first shutout of her collegiate career. The freshman had seven strikeouts and retired the final nine batters she faced.
After being walked by Central Michigan in 7-of-8 plate appearances last weekend, freshman slugger Maddy Grimm was eager to get the bat off her shoulder and finished with a 4-for-7 performance at the plate with two doubles, a home run, four RBI and two runs scored.
Kim Kirkpatrick collected three extra-base hits on the day while driving home one run and scoring twice. Erika Warren also had a big day at the plate as she had a pair of hits and drove in three runs.
BUFFALO 6, KENT STATE 0
The Kent State bats could muster no more than two hits against Buffalo starter Kevin Hughes on Friday night, leading to a 6-0 loss against the MAC East Division foe at Schoonover Stadium.
The Golden Flashes remain tied with Akron atop the East with a 9-4 conference record and a half-game behind Ball State overall. Central Michigan still leads the MAC with a two-game advantage.
Kent State's two hits came by way of a Sawyer Polen double in the thirrd and a Justin Wagler single in the fourth.
"We hit some balls hard," said KSUoach Jeff Duncan. "We hit 12 balls hard right at some guys and really couldn't get anything going offensively."
KSU pitcher Eric Lauer had his shortest appearance as a starter, lasting just 32⁄3 innings after five hits, three runs, four walks and three strikeouts. Dan Kopcak (Streetsboro) had the best night on the mound, throwing three innings with no hits, one walk and four strikeouts.
"Eric Lauer didn't have his best stuff, but he's human," Duncan said of his young lefty. "He's going to learn from that and get better and better."
Defensively, left fielder Jon Wilson had two outfield assists, throwing out a runner at home and another at second trying to extend a single into a double. He also made a brilliant catch in foul territory to highlight an errorless game for the Flashes.
Hughes pitched a complete-game shutout for Buffalo with two hits, three walks and three strikeouts.
"That guy pitched an unbelievable game," said Duncan. "He pitched really well. Lights out. You have to tip your cap to him."