Record-Courier staff report
Kent State put together several clutch hits to top Miami 4-1 in Thursday's Mid-American Conference Tournament elimination game at Firestone Stadium in Akron.
The fourth-seeded Golden Flashes (25-19), who snapped a four-game losing streak in MAC tourney play, advance to play today at 11 a.m. against sixth-seeded Central Michigan (33-21).
"I'm really happy that we were able to come away with the win," KSU head coach Karen Linder said. "We had several people in our lineup came through with big hits today. I'm just really happy with the production from some of our hitters."
All of Kent State's runs and more than half of its hits came with two outs.
The Flashes led the entire game after jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. After the first two batters of the game were retired, freshman Maddy Grimm singled up the middle and hustled around the bases to score on a double by senior Abbey Ledford that dropped on the left-field line.
In the fourth inning, sophomore Lauren Kesterson and freshman Janel Hayes delivered back-to-back singles with two outs. Sophomore Michele Duffy then stepped to the plate and delivered a double over the head of Miami's centerfielder.
Leading 3-1, the Flashes tacked on an insurance run in the top of the seventh. Senior Jessacca Gironda laid down a bunt single to get the inning started. Gironda advanced to third following a sac bunt and a groundout, then scored on Grimm's second single of the game.
Freshman Ronnie Ladines (7-6) did not allow an earned run and scattered six hits over seven innings in the circle.
She added four strikeouts while walking just a single batter.
"Ronnie did a great job keeping them off balance with her off-speed stuff," said Linder. "She just had great composure all day long, and I am
really proud of her performance. And Erika Warren called the game behind the plate and did a really good job too."
Junior Kim Kirkpatrick made the defensive play of the day for the Flashes by starting a double-play to limit a Miami rally in the fifth. The
RedHawks put runners on the corners after the first two batters of the inning reached on a pair of Kent State errors. Kirkpatrick then caught a
fly ball to left field and fired home to retire the runner trying to score from third base. Miami went on to score an unearned run in the inning, but did no further damage.