Some actors become stereotyped into roles. There are roles that they play perfectly, but if they journey outside that persona, they are like a cardboard character.
Softball teams can be the same way. Some teams win slugfests but struggle in tense pitching duels. Other teams thrive in low-scoring games, but when the situation calls to produce runs in bunches, they are clueless.
Sunday (Apr. 10) in Columbus against Ohio Dominican, the red-hot Ashland University Eagles demonstrated that they can play it either way and prosper. In the first game of a doubleheader, the Eagles erupted for a season-high 14 runs in a 14-0, five-inning victory. Junior Emlyn Knerem (Brunswick, Ohio) pitched the fifth no-hitter of her career, facing the minimum of 15 batters. She didn't walk anyone and struck out seven.
In the second game, AU broke a 1-1 deadlock with a run in the bottom of the seventh to prevail, 2-1. The Eagles are 21-9, 13-1 in the GLIAC. They have an 11-game winning streak. The Eagles haven't been on the short end of the score since losing to Grand Valley State, 8-6 on Mar. 26.
Saturday's sweep ended a 4-0 weekend against ODU. In those four games, AU outscored the first-year conference entrant, 24-2.
Sunday's first game saw the Eagles go in front, 2-0 after one inning. Ashland scored seven runs in the second inning and five runs in the third. Logan Hursey (Zanesville, Ohio/John Glenn) rapped her seventh homer of the season and second baseman Cayla Seidler (Massillon, Ohio/Washington) went deep for the second time this season. Hursey also had a double and drove in five runs. Seidler was 2-for-2 with three RBI. Center fielder Lyndsey Brandt (Painesville, Ohio/Riverside) was 2-for-2 and scored three times and shortstop Bri Woody (Cleveland, Ohio/Magnificat) was 1-for-3 with three runs scored and two RBI.
AU had 10 hits and reached double digits in runs for the fifth time this season. As for Knerem, she threw 58 pitches in raising her record to 14-3. This was her third, five-inning perfect game of the season, earlier she was spotless against Wheeling Jesuit and Edinboro. Knerem has five no-hitters in her college career and four of those have been perfect games.
Knerem would end up getting the win in the second game when she came into the game in the seventh inning and struck out all three batters she faced. With that knockout punch, she improved to 15-3. She was AU's third pitcher of the afternoon. Hursey started and allowed a run on two hits in five innings. Freshman Carly Clark (Strasburg, Ohio) pitched a scoreless inning before turning the game over to Knerem.
The Eagles took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when sophomore catcher Tawna Garver (Mansfield, Ohio/Hillsdale) took a 3-1 pitch from Maria Staton (2-7) and sent it over the center field fence. The homer was her first of the season. Garver is the third Ashland player to hit her first homer of the season this week, following outfielder Erica Miller (Indianapols, Ind./Franklin Central) and first baseman Frankie Gironda (Akron, Ohio/Hoban).
ODU struck for a run in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by Brooke McCartney. That scored Jennifer Baker, who had opened the inning with a single off of Hursey. That was the last batter Hursey faced. She left at that point in favor of Clark.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Garver singled down the left-field line. Outfielder Alex Machen (Lebanon, Ohio) followed with a single to put runners at first and second. Carly West (Ashland, Ohio/Hillsdale) pinch ran for Machen. Brandt grounded out to second to move the runners up a base. Moments later, Woody ended the game with a single through the left side.
Machen, Garver and Hursey all had two hits in the second game. Third baseman Alyssa Kelley (Mentor, Ohio) was 1-for-3 and extended her hitting streak to 19 games. Kelley is hitting a team best .434. Hursey, who is at .432, has a 14-game hitting streak and Woody has collected at least one hit in 12 straight games.
Ashland returns to action on Friday (Apr. 15) with a doubleheader at Northwood.