The Eastern Michigan University softball team lost Friday to the Kent State University Golden Flashes, 4-3, in game one of an afternoon doubleheader.
“Game one was disturbing,” EMU coach Karen Baird said. “We left a lot of runners on.”
The Eagles (10-16-1) sent senior Jenna Ignowski (L, 6-5) to the mound. She went 4 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits, while walking three and striking out four.
“My goal was to come out and shut them down in the first inning and work off that,” Ignowski said. “I’ve been struggling in the first and picking up towards the end. I keep having that one bad inning so I’ve got to learn from it, and come back from it and work my way through the whole game instead of having that one bad inning.”
The Golden Flashes (13-12) countered with Emma Johnson (W, 10-6). She went the distance, giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits, while walking three and striking out five Eagle batters.
The Eagles started the scoring in the bottom of the first on an RBI single from sophomore first baseman Amanda Herron, scoring senior shortstop Katy Blaharski.
The team added to its lead in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run single from senior catcher Courtney Loe, making the score 3-0 EMU.
The wheels came off the bus for EMU in the top of the fifth.
Kim Kirkpatrick started the trouble with an RBI-single to left field. Two batters later, Abbey Ledford knocked her in, cutting the Eagle lead to 3-2. Three batters later, Lauren Balodis hit a two-run single up the middle, making the score 4-3 Kent State and ending the day for Ignowski.
Sophomore Lindsay Rich came in to relieve her. The Eagles were able to put Herron on base in the home half of the fifth, but stranded pinch runner Elaine Whitbeck. The Eagles left two more runners on in the sixth and went down in order in the home half of the seventh, sealing the win for Kent State.
Herron finished 2-for-3 with an RBI for the Eagles. Six more batters had one hit each.
“I thought she was on fire today,” senior right fielder Courtney Nicholson said. “It’s great to see her bat finally get alive and really get some hard shots.”
Kirkpatrick led the way for Kent State with a three-hit performance.
Game two of the doubleheader was no better for EMU, as a five-run fifth and a five-run seventh propelled the Golden Flashes past EMU, 11-2.
“We needed to get that first one,” Baird said. “It was almost like an emotional letdown for the second.”
The game started off as a battle for Lauren Wells.
Wells (L, 0-8) got the start for EMU (10-17-1) and couldn’t get out of the fifth inning. She gave up four runs (three earned) on four hits while walking five and striking out three.
“It happened really fast,” Wells said. “You walk one and all of a sudden someone gets a hit, then the bases are loaded and they end up scoring four runs.”
Lauren McNeil (W, 4-5) was on the mound for Kent State (14-12). She went the distance, giving up two runs (zero earned) on four hits while walking two and striking out three.
After Lauren Kesterson reached base on an infield single, Rich came in to relieve Wells. Rich loaded the bases, and that’s when things went from bad to worse for EMU.
Ledford reached base on a fielder’s choice, scoring Kesterson and making the score 2-0. The next batter, Shelbi Tilton, knocked in Kirkpatrick with an RBI single. Lauren Grimes cleared the bases on a double to left center field.
Ignowski came in to relieve Rich and closed out the inning without allowing any more runs.
Down 6-0, the Eagles needed to mount a comeback.
With two on and two outs, Herron singled to left, scoring Blaharski and freshman left fielder Mady Hostetler. Herron was thrown out trying to reach second base.
Those would be the last runs for the Eagles. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Kent State.
Dani Ramos singled to lead off the inning. She then advanced to third base on two consecutive wild pitches from Ignowski with Ledford at the plate. After walking Ledford, Tilton singled to short, increasing Kent State’s lead to 7-2. That would be it for Ignowski.
Wells re-entered the game and picked up right where she left off in the top of the fifth.
After loading the bases again, Wells gave up a grand slam to Michele Duffy, making the score 11-2.
The Eagles went down in order in the bottom half of the seventh.
Herron was 1-for-3 with two RBI’s in game two.
The Eagles faced off against the University of New York at Buffalo on Saturday and Sunday; game recaps can be found online at www.easternecho.com/section/sports.