Penguins take it on the chin, drop two to Kent State
Youngstown State lost, 6-3 and 12-6 to fall to 11-16 on the season.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CANFIELD -- When a good-hitting softball team runs into an inconsistent pitching staff, you should expect a lopsided decision.
Or make that two when the teams are scheduled for a doubleheader.
Kent State collected 28 hits, including 10 for extra bases, in a 6-3, 12-6 sweep over Youngstown State at McCune Park Tuesday.
Compounding matters, YSU is playing without its top pitcher and the Golden Flashes have a dominate thrower.
All that most coaches will ask of their pitching staff is to be consistent -- to give the hitters a chance to win. That's the one quality that the Penguins have been unable to deliver.
"Our pitchers have shown that they can throw well; they've got to do it for us on a consistent basis," YSU coach Christy Cameron said.
In the first game, the Golden Flashes (19-19) took a 3-0 lead in the first inning and gave pitcher Brittney Robinson all the cushion she needed.
Robinson (17-10) now has 262 strikeouts in 179 innings, nearly 11/2 per frame. She struck out 10 Penguins in the opener where she worked four innings.
In the nightcap, after YSU (11-16) pulled within 7-6 after five innings, Robinson came on in relief to get her first save of the season.
She struck out four of the six hitters she faced in two perfect innings of relief in the nightcap.
"She's a good kid," Cameron said of Robinson. "When you're facing a good kid, and a good team like that, we started ourselves off [down] 3-0."
Kent scored its three runs on two walks, a fielding error and a wind-blown double.
"Against a good team and a good pitcher, you don't want to get yourself down early like that," Cameron said. "Good teams capitalize on those mistakes you make."
The drama in the opener came in the last of the seventh when a Kent reliever walked three YSU hitters with two out.
Robinson came on to get a ground ball and preserve the 6-3 decision.
The Penguins had their chances in the nightcap but couldn't slow down the Flashes who had 18 hits and three home runs.
"This game we have six runs and we have nine hits -- those are games we have to win," Cameron said of the frustrating nightcap.
"Our pitchers have to give us opportunities -- and keep us in games -- to win. If they do that this game we win this game."
Due to three errors, only 10 of the 12 Kent runs were earned.
"They've proven they can do it, there's no doubt in my mind that they can do it, they just have to go out and do it consistently," she said.
Cameron was pleased the Penguins accumulated 13 hits and nine runs on the day.
"We've been swinging the bats pretty well and staying consistent with that. We need to sharpen up defensively."
As for the Flashes banging out 28 hits in 14 innings?
"If our pitchers throw the way they can throw, it's a different day," Cameron said.
Kent staked a 7-2 in the fourth inning of the nightcap before YSU closed to within one run.
The rally was highlighted by a two-run homer way over the left field fence by McKenzie Bedra. That was the final YSU baserunner.
"I got a good pitch," Bedra said of her first homer of the season. "It was a rise ball inside -- that's where I like it.
"I went with it and it went, well over the fence."
On March 18, Kent defeated the Penguins 12-5. In that game Penguin senior pitcher Kelly Murphy left the game in the second inning when she re-injured her hand.
Murphy, who was expected to be among the top pitchers in the Horizon League this season, has not thrown since.