Flashes Top Lehigh Before Falling to NC State
RALEIGH, N.C.- Kent State had its best offensive performance of the early season in a 9-2 win over Lehigh, before falling to host NC State Friday at the Wolfpack Challenge. The Golden Flashes and Wolfpack were scoreless after three innings at Dail Stadium, before disaster struck in the fourth, when NC State scored all eight of its runs.
"Overall, I was pretty happy with the day," Head Coach Karen Linder said. "We really only had one bad inning all day. And when you take a week off from competition, it takes a while to get that continuity back."
Kent State unleashed a season-high 12 hits over six innings against Lehigh and piled on eight runs in the first two innings.
"I could tell in batting practice, it was going to be a good game at the plate," Linder said. "We showed discipline and attacked the good pitches."
The Flashes put up four runs in the first, all with two outs on the board. Sophomore Abbey Ledford (West Liberty, Ohio) hit a bases loaded single up the middle to score two. Senior Mary Holt (Providence, R.I.) followed with a double to left center to make it 4-1.
"Mary had a huge double that really broke it open," Linder said. "She and Abbey really came through for us."
The very next inning, Ledford homered to left to extend the lead to 8-2. The Flashes belted five hits in a four-run second, including an RBI double by senior catcher Jess Blanton (Wheelersburg, Ohio).
Holt lifted a solo blast into left field in the fifth inning to make it a seven-run lead. She and Ledford each went 2-for-3 with three runs batted in. Freshman Kim Kirkpatrick (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and sophomore Alex Marcantonio (North Canton, Ohio) was 2-for-2 with a walk and a sac fly.
Sophomore pitcher Lauren McNeil (Akron, Ohio) allowed a run in each of the first two innings, before she and the Kent State defense held the Mountain Hawks scoreless for five straight frames. McNeil fanned seven batters in her second win of the season and left 12 runners on base.
"Lauren did a very good job keeping her composure and made some nice pitches to get her out of trouble," Linder said. "She got called for illegal pitches four times, but she battled back and having runners on base didn't faze her."
Despite being 570 miles from home, the Flashes had large cheering section in the opening game thanks to the Kent State gymnastics team.
"It was definitely an energy boost for us," Linder said.
In game two, freshman Emma Johnson (Groveport, Ohio) held NC State scoreless for three innings. A leadoff homer started the Wolfpack's big inning, but an error and walks extended the inning, leading to six unearned runs.
"You make an error and walk batters in the same inning against a good team like that and it's going to hurt you," Linder said. "And NC State did a nice job of timing (Johnson) up."
Offensively Blanton went 2-for-2. She and Ledford finished with three hits on the day.
The Golden Flashes (2-5) are scheduled take on N.C. State again tomorrow at 3:30 followed by a matchup with Georgetown at 7:30.