Kent State encountered an improbable nemesis at the 2019 Mid-American Conference softball tournament.
Seventh-seeded Toledo defeated the No. 2 seed Golden Flashes (27-24) for the second time in the tournament Friday night. Katie Cozy hit a two-run homer in the first inning, and pitcher Erin Hunt made it stand up as the Rockets (26-26) claimed a 2-1 victory in an elimination game at Firestone Stadium.
Kent State, which took two out of three games from Toledo during the regular season, stayed alive in the MAC Tournament by winning two earlier games on Friday behind ace redshirt freshman hurler Andrea Scali.
Junior Madi Huck (5-11) started in the circle against Toledo on Friday and gave up just the two-run homer in four innings. Scali then came on in relief and pitched three scoreless innings, striking out five.
The Flashes managed seven hits against Hunt (14-11), who allowed just three hits while winning Wednesday's matchup with Kent State 4-2. But the Flashes stranded 10 runners on base in the rematch.
Back-to-back doubles by sophomore Kennadie Goth and Kaitlyn Miller brought Kent State within one run in the sixth, but Hunt sent down the last four KSU batters in order to seal the win.
Big first innings and dominant performances by Scali led Kent State to victories in Friday's first two elimination games.
The Flashes opened the day by finishing off a 4-1 victory over sixth-seeded Ball State (34-20). They scored three times in the first inning on Thursday before rained forced the contest to be suspended in the third inning, then tacked on a run in the fourth.
Scali retired the first 12 batters in order before giving up a homer to Janae Hogg. She struck out the final two batters in the fifth with two on, then set the Cardinals down in order in the final two innings to complete a two-hitter. Scali did not walk a batter and struck out eight.
Brenna Brownfield, Hunter Brancifort, Maria Cegledy and Carlee Selle each drove in a run for Kent State.
Scali (21-8) then came within one out of firing her fourth no-hitter of the season in the Flashes' 3-0 victory over No. 5 seed Central Michigan (22-28-1). She settled for a one-hitter, facing just one batter over the minimum with one walk and seven strikeouts.
Brenna Brownfield provided all the offense Kent State needed with a two-run homer in the first inning. Miller doubled and singled, and Goth added two singles for the Flashes.