Akron Narrows Wagon Wheel Challenge Gap with Softball Sweep
AKRON, Ohio- Akron topped Kent State (26-26, 11-9) in both games of a doubleheader with scores of 5-0 and 5-4 Friday at Lee Jackson Field. A two-out, fifth inning grand slam by the Zips proved to be the difference in game two.
"I give Akron credit," Head Coach Karen Linder said. "They were relaxed and played like they had nothing to lose. And we didn't come up with enough clutch hits."
In game two, Junior Lauren Grimes (Tallmadge, Ohio) doubled off the left field fence in the first, moved to third on a single by senior Jess Blanton (Wheelersburg, Ohio) and scored on a sac fly by senior Shannon Laughlin (Fairview Park, Ohio). The Flashes 1-0 lead held until the bottom of the fourth.
Game two was interrupted by a one hour and 40 minute lightning and rain delay in the bottom of the fourth. Shortly after the delay, the Zips got on the board with the help of an infield error, but right fielder Caitie Kilbane (Westerville, Ohio) threw a runner out at home plate to keep the game tied 1-1.
Trouble started with two outs in the bottom of the fifth when Mary Holt (Providence, R.I.) grabbed a chopper while standing in foul territory along the third base line. The ball was ruled fair, but never attempted a throw. A single and a hit-by-pitch on a 1-2 count loaded the bases for Allison Dorr who sent a grand slam over the left field fence.
"In Mary's mind it was clearly foul," Linder said. "That's why she didn't make a throw and things started to unravel from there."
The Flashes clawed their way back in the sixth, beginning with a double to the right center field gap by Laughlin. Kim Morgason (Grove City, Ohio) knocked a pinch hit RBI double later in the frame to make it a one-run lead.
Junior Danielle Abernathy (Adairsville, Ga.) did not allow a run in the first three frames, but suffered the loss.
Freshman starter Emma Johnson (Groveport, Ohio) looked strong through the first two innings of game one, before she was hit on the throwing hand with a line drive in the third, which resulted in a single. On the very next pitch, Rachael Radcliffe sent one over the left field fence to give Akron a 2-0 lead.
Alissa Birkhimer made it a 3-0 lead with a solo homer to left. A bases loaded walk and a bases loaded ground ball gave Akron a 5-0 lead in the sixth.
The Flashes left two runners on base in the first, fourth and fifth innings, stranding seven runners total.
Blanton threw out two runners on stolen attempts, including Iesha Mountain, who had 30 steals entering Friday.
Akron's sweep was its first sweep over the Flashes since 1998.
Freshman Dani Ramos (South Euclid, Ohio) was hit in the back of the neck while running to first base in the top of the first and did not return for either game.
Kent State returns to action Saturday at Ohio, beginning at 2 p.m. The Flashes trail the Bobcats by one game in the MAC standings for fourth place and a first round bye in the conference tournament.