OXFORD, Ohio – The Kent State softball team staged a seventh-inning rally Friday night in the second game to sweep Miami (Ohio) in a doubleheader and win the Mid-American Conference East Division title at Miami Softball Stadium. The Golden Flashes improved to 26-18-1 (15-5) after winning the opener, 2-0, and the dramatic nightcap, 3-2, for their first division crown since 2010. The Redhawks slipped to 18-31 (11-9).
Kent State, who has won three straight and five of its last six games, took a 1-0 lead in the second game on a fourth-inning, two-out RBI single by junior shortstop Abbey Ledford (West Liberty, Ohio). Miami reclaimed the lead with two runs in the bottom of the fourth.
The Flashes trailed, 2-1, in the top of the seventh when junior third baseman Caitie Kilbane (Westerville, Ohio) slugged an RBI double to left field to tie the game at 2-2. Senior center fielder Lauren Grimes (Tallmadge, Ohio) then put the Flashes in front for good with a bases-loaded fielder's choice to plate the winning run, 3-2. Ledford finished 2 for 4.
In the opener, it was Grimes delivering a two-out RBI single in the top of the first, then Kilbane hitting a two-out RBI single in the second. It was all the offense needed for a 2-0 win. Grimes went 3 for 4, while Kilbane was 2 for 3. Sophomore left fielder Dani Ramos (South Euclid, Ohio) was 2 for 4.
Sophomore right-hander Emma Johnson (Groveport, Ohio) was stellar in starting and winning both games to improve to 20-9 this season. Johnson pitched a one-hitter with six strikeouts in the opening game shutout, then allowed no earned runs on nine hits with four strikeouts over seven innings in the clincher.
Kent State travels to MAC West champion Ball State (34-14, 17-2) for a two-game series with single games at 2 p.m. Saturday (May 4) and 1 p.m. Sunday (May 5). The Flashes are the front-runner for the No. 2 seed in next week's MAC Tournament. Central Michigan (28-17, 14-6) is currently second in the MAC West, but tournament seeding is 1-8 regardless of division. Central Michigan plays a two-game series this weekend at Ohio.