Kent State softball's MAC Tournament struggles continue in 2-1 loss to Ohio

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By Allen Moff | Staff Writer

Kent State's string of futility at the Mid-American Conference Softball Tournament continued on Wednesday.

Fifth-seeded Ohio (29-24) took just enough advantage of eight walks, while the No. 4 seed Golden Flashes left 10 runners stranded in a 2-1 loss that forces them into an elimination game against eighth-seeded Miami today at 11 a.m. at Firestone Stadium in Akron.

Kent State (27-21) has now lost seven of its last eight games in the MAC tourney dating back to the 2010 championship game, including four straight. The past two setbacks have come at the hands of the Bobcats, who eliminated the Flashes from the last year's tourney.

KSU's junior ace Emma Johnson (14-10) struggled with control issues all day long, issuing eight free passes, but extricated herself from several jams thanks in major part to 10 strikeouts. She allowed just five hits, but two of those were RBI singles by Ohio freshman Casie Hutchinson.

"I'm really excited about the offensive output, manufacturing runs against a tough pitcher," said Bobcats coach Jodi Hermanek. "We saw a lot of at-bats -- good, deep counts. I was proud of our team for doing that today."

The Bobcats stranded two runners in each of the first two innings, but took advantage of a leadoff walk by Taylor Saxton in the third. Saxton stole second and scored on a Hutchinson single.

Kent State sophomore shortstop Lauren Kesterson saved a run by snagging a looping liner in short left field to end the inning.

Ohio added a pivotal insurance tally in the sixth when junior Dakota Pyles led off with a single to center, was sacrificed to second, then scored one out later on another RBI single up the middle by Hutchinson.

The Flashes left a pair of runners on base in the sixth. They finally got on the board in the seventh, when junior Kim Kirkpatrick stroked a leadoff double to right-center, advanced to third on a single by junior Dani Ramos and scored on a sacrifice fly to left by freshman Maddy Grimm.

But Ohio sophomore Savannah Jo Dorsey (22-16) retired the next two KSU batters to end the game.

Ramos had three of Kent State's eight hits, while Kesterson had a pair of singles.

The Flashes will look to stay alive today against the RedHawks, who defeated them twice in Kent to open the MAC season.

Email: amoff@recordpub.com

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