Kent State University wasn’t able to rebound after a long rain delay at Friday’s Mid-American Conference Tournament elimination game and had its season come to a close with a 5-4 loss to sixth-seeded Ohio University.
After pitching a great game in Thursday’s 1-0 loss to Central Michigan, Golden Flashes sophomore pitcher Emma Johnson got off to a rocky start.
Johnson hit leadoff batter Tessa Bailey in the helmet and then gave up a single to junior shortstop Erin Lashley.
Johnson struck out the next two batters swinging, but then something strange happened.
An inside pitch was thrown to Adrienne Gebele that appeared to hit her and roll toward the pitcher. However, it was ruled that it hit the handle of the bat and that it was a live ball.
Johnson fielded the ball cleanly after some confusion, but first basemen Lauren Balodis had charged in to make a play. With Balodis backpedaling toward first, the Flashes had a difficult play. Johnson’s throw sailed over Balodis’ head, and both runners scored.
“It’s a freak thing,” KSU coach Karen Linder said. “I guess it hit the knob of the bat. They didn’t know how to react to it and it was costly, obviously.”
The score remained 2-0 until the fourth inning when the Flashes (27-21-1, 16-6 MAC) were finally able to string some hits together, an inability that was a deciding factor in Thursday’s loss.
Junior second basemen Abbey Ledford singled and freshman third basemen Michele Duffy walked. Freshman No. 9 hitter Lauren Kesterson laced a triple off the left-field wall to tie the score 2-2.
Leadoff hitter Jessacca Gironda then drove in Kesterson with a single and Dani Ramos followed with a single to score Gironda and give the Flashes a 4-2 lead.
“We’ve done that all year, where we have innings that we don’t do anything and then all of a sudden we’ll put things together,” Linder said. “The disappointment is that they came back.”
KSU’s lead didn’t last for long — the Bobcats struck back in the fifth.
A double and a walk put two runners on with one out and Lashley at the plate for Ohio (27-28, 9-13).
Lashley hit a line drive to right-center field that tipped off the end of KSU center fielder Lauren Grimes’ glove. Both runners scored.
Two batters later, KSU again came within inches of another great defensive play that would have saved a run. Kesterson went deep into the hole at shortstop, dove and the ball tipped off her glove in a similar fashion. That allowed Lashley to score, giving Ohio a 5-4 lead.
“It’s a game of inches,” Linder said. “[Grimes] makes that catch in center field and they don’t score those runs.”
Johnson took the loss for the Flashes, finishing the season with a record of 20-12. She struck out 14 in six innings, walking two and giving up just four hits.
A five-plus hour rain delay ensued following the bottom of the fifth inning and neither team was able to do much of anything once they got back on the field.
Kesterson led the Flashes at plate with a single, triple, two RBI and a run scored.
Ramos added two singles and an RBI.