With Stony Brook now eliminated from the College World Series, the label of "Cinderella" in this year's tournament has now been passed to the Kent State Golden Flashes.
Kent State pulled off the upset of the CWS to this point by eliminating top-seeded Florida with a 5-4 victory on Monday. If the Golden Flashes are going to keep their improbable run alive against South Carolina, then the team must improve rapidly on offense.
Granted, Kent State scored five runs on 12 hits against a very good Florida squad. However, the Golden Flashes were completely shut down by Arkansas in their first game of the series, crossing home plate only once in an 8-1 shellacking.
This is due in large part to the struggles of several of Kent State's players, as the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that several of Kent State's most important hitters aren't doing a whole lot at the dish.
Center fielder Evan Campbell has played excellent defense and leads the team in runs scored, but he's batting a paltry .152. It's even worse for designated hitter Nick Hamilton, who is batting a measly .172 in seven tournament games and has struck out a team-leading 11 times.
If there's a silver lining for the Golden Flashes, it's that South Carolina has practically mirrored Kent State so far in Omaha, struggling to find offense in a 2-1 loss to Arkansas while pounding out a dozen hits of their own against a Florida Gators squad that completely face-planted in Nebraska.
However, that's more or less where the similarities end. Kent State's win over Florida was their first ever in Omaha, while South Carolina's loss to Arkansas was the first in 23 postseason games for the team that won the CWS in 2010 and 2011.
According to the NCAA's official website, the Gamecocks ranked 15th in the nation this season with a team ERA of 3.04, so runs aren't exactly going to be easy to come by for Kent State on Wednesday.
However, the Golden Flashes showed against Florida that they are capable of putting numbers on the board against elite competition, and, as Kent State catcher Mitch Lyon told ESPN after the team's dramatic win over the Gators, the Golden Flashes may just have a secret weapon in their arsenal.
"Yeah, we definitely feel like we deserve to be here, and hopefully, we showed that out there today. It seems that all of Omaha has adopted us and is rooting us on."
Now it's just a matter of seeing if the Golden slipper still fits or if Kent State was a Flash in the pan that will turn back into a pumpkin in the face of the two-time defending champions.
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