A pair of timely hits in the second inning pushed No. 4 Kent State towards an early lead and eventual 4-1 victory against No. 5 Ball State in the first game of the Mid-American Conference tournament.
The Golden Flashes (28-25, 16-9 MAC) moved past the Cardinals (30-27, 14-11 MAC) after Ball State failed to get their bats going.
After giving up a solo home run to Kent State's senior pitcher Ronnie Ladines and an RBI triple to junior left fielder Emily Dobbin, Ball State freshman pitcher Darcie Huber was able to get out of the second inning with her second strikeout of the game. The Golden Flashes earned two runs on two hits, stranding one on base.
A fielding error and two walks loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth for Dobbin, who picked up her second RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly to left field, extending the Golden Flashes lead 3-0.
The Cardinals could not find an offensive rhythm against Ladines as their only base runner through the first four innings was junior infielder Danae King, who was hit by a pitch. Ball State only put the ball into fair play five times through four complete innings.
In the fifth inning, junior Carolyn Wilmes was called upon from the dugout. Huber recorded three strikeouts in four complete innings, giving up three runs, five hits and allowed three walks. She is now 9-8 on the season.
Kent State extended their lead 4-0 in the fifth inning after junior short stop Holly Speers picked up her 14th home run of the season.
Besides Kennedy Wynn's base hit in the fifth inning to break the no-hitter, the Cardinals only other two base runners reached on two fielding errors by the Golden Flashes, who totaled three in the game. A fielder's choice, a third error and a hit by a pitch allowed Ball State to get their first run on the board in the top of the sixth making it 4-1.
Kent State's Ladines to pick up her 16th win of the season, pitching a no-hitter through four complete innings and going scoreless through five. She finished with 13 strikeouts on the game.
Ball State will continue MAC tournament play tomorrow at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio. They will play the loser of No. 1 Central Michigan and No. 8 Western Michigan in an elimination game at 10:30 a.m.