To say the Kent State baseball hasn’t had the kind of season it expected after a College World Series appearance would be an understatement.
It could be said that the expectations were unrealistic but Golden Flashes coach Scott Stricklin has said that, at least on paper, this was the team that could shine on college baseball’s main stage in Omaha, Neb.
The Flashes didn’t just lose games early in the season; they lost them in ugly fashion. Some games, it was inconsistent pitching; others, it was lack of hitting.
The Flashes, usually strong fundamentally, even struggled defensively with one error often snowballing into a handful game after game until it seemed players were on edge over the most routine plays.
“The most frustrating thing is it’s been something different from game to game,” Stricklin said. “We’ve had some letdowns defensively, and that’s been since Day One. We’ve gotten better, but it’s still not where it needs to be.”
But after the rough start, the Flashes are 25-20 and riding a six-game winning streak. They were also 12-6 in the Mid-American Conference East Division, good for second place behind Buffalo.
“When you look at the last three weekends, we’ve been really up and down,” Stricklin said. “We went to Miami three weekends ago and played as well as we have all year. We got a sweep and it put us in first place.
“Then we went to Buffalo and played about as bad as we played all year. We got knocked out of first place and it was really disappointing.”
Since then, the Flashes swept a three-game series against visiting Bowling Green last weekend and picked up wins against Eastern Michigan and Youngstown State earlier this week.
“Now we’ve won [six] in a row, played well over the weekend against Bowling Green and we feel like we’re starting to come together a little better,” Stricklin said.
But Stricklin stopped short of suggesting the Flashes had completely turned the corner.
“I’d like to think we’ve finally found our groove, but it’s still been a little up and down, still been a little inconsistent,” he said. “Offensively, we need to get better. [Tuesday against Eastern Michigan] we won 7-5. We had opportunities to really blow that game open, but didn’t execute. That’s the place where we need to improve the most and become more consistent.”
Stricklin has no doubt that will eventually happen; it’s just taken longer than he expected.
Kent State added pitcher Janel Hayes to its signing class for next season on Wednesday. Haynes, a California native, joins previously signed shortstop Maddy Grimm (Pa.), pitcher Ronnie Ladines (Wash.) and catcher Nicole Teefy (Ga.) in the 2014 class.
The Flashes (24-18-1, 13-5) are in first place in the MAC East.
They lead second-place Miami by two games with four regular-season games remaining before the MAC Tournament starts May 8.
However, two of those games are against the RedHawks in a doubleheader Friday.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Kent State blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.