After scoring its most runs in one game in 50 years, Ashland University's baseball team will start Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action with a four-game home set against Ohio Dominican on Saturday (March 26) and Monday (March 28).
The Eagles and Panthers will play seven- and nine-inning games on Saturday starting at 1 p.m., then do the same on Monday beginning at 2 p.m. – the latter doubleheader moving from Thursday (March 24) due to pending rain.
Ashland is 9-8 following its 26-2 win at Donges Field on Tuesday (March 22) over Cedarville – a game in which the Eagles scored their most runs since a 26-1 win over Defiance in 1966.
"We had a good game," said Ashland head coach John Schaly. "Our guys did a pretty good job at the plate, and stayed disciplined. Hopefully, that will be a game that gets our hitters going."
Schaly is looking for some more consistency out of his charges. In its nine wins, Ashland has outscored its opponents 114-42. In its eight losses, AU has been outscored 54-19.
"Some guys had been a little inconsistent, but, hopefully, this will get them going," Schaly said. "The big thing, we need consistency. We've had games throughout this year where we have swung it very well, but we have to do that on a consistent basis.
"You've also got to keep in mind who is on the mound for the other team. Baseball is a sport where a team is a totally different team, depending on who's on the mound. Against good pitching, we've got to do the little things. We've been playing great defense. That's been a pretty consistent thing throughout the year. We just need to put all phases of the game together."
The Panthers are 11-3-1 coming into conference play, and have won six of their last seven games. The one loss in that stretch was an eight-inning defeat in a non-conference game against Hillsdale at home.
AU vs. ODU
Ashland swept Ohio Dominican in four games in Columbus last spring. In 51 all-time meetings between the Eagles and Panthers, AU leads the series, 27-24.
ODU head coach Paul Page comes into the series with 999 career victories.
"They're playing very well," Schaly said. "Coach Page does a great job, and they have a lot of tradition. We know we're going to have to play very well to beat them. They are going to be tough to beat."
Ludwig Returns With A Bang
After missing 2015 due to injury, sophomore first baseman/designated hitter Greg Ludwig has returned to the field with a flourish, hitting a team-high .407 with 11 runs scored, five doubles, two home runs, nine RBIs and 12 walks.
Ludwig's "slash line" of .407/.522/.611 through 16 games is one any hitter would be envious of.
"We felt Greg could be a great hitter for us," Schaly said. "He's really worked hard to make himself a good player. We were hopeful that he would have this kind of year, and so far, he has."
Eagles Starting Strong Youth Movement
Ashland has used several true and redshirt freshmen at the outset of 2016, and with solid results.
Second baseman Cameron Nunn has six hits, six runs scored and six RBIs in 12 at-bats, outfielder Nic Varda started for the first time on Tuesday and was 4-for-6 with five RBIs and three runs scored, outfielder Ivan Wortman is hitting .400 with four RBIs in 20 at-bats and right-handed pitchers Sam Rice (3.75 earned-run average) and Chris Slavik (1-1, 5.14) have given the Eagles quality innings.
"That was a goal in the early part of the season is to look at a lot of different people and different combinations," said Schaly. "We think they are going to be very good players. They just need to get experience. We are developing some depth."
The ODU four-game set will be Ashland's fifth through eighth of 13 consecutive scheduled home games through April 3…Senior right-handed pitcher Alex Smith is tied with Ryan Douglas for the most career saves (14) in Eagle history…Senior Mike Lewandowski is hitting .339 with a team-high-tying 16 RBIs while playing four positions (second base, shortstop, left field and right field).