Throughout her college career, junior Kaely Stucin (Dover, Ohio) has helped the Eagles with her legs. She's been known as someone who can steal a run with her speed and get to balls defensively others can't often reach.
Saturday (Apr. 7) at Brookside Park, Stucin got to trot rather than sprint around the bases. She hit the first home run of her career, a line shot to left field in the sixth inning of the first game of a doubleheader with Ohio Dominican. Stucin was at the plate as a pinch hitter for left fielder Carly West (Ashland, Ohio/Hillsdale). That round tripper broke a 2-2 tie and sent the Eagles past Ohio Dominican, 5-2.
AU added a 4-1 victory in the nightcap. Ashland is 30-8, 15-4 in the GLIAC. The Saturday sweep gives the Eagles a split in the season series with Ohio Dominican. The Panthers (16-20/10-6) swept AU on Thursday and gave the Eagles all they wanted on this day.
That decisive sixth inning in the first game started with a lead-off single by outfielder Taylor Menhart (Twinsburg, Ohio). Tawna Garver (Mansfield, Ohio/Hillsdale) put down a bunt and the Panthers tried to get Menhart at second and failed. A sacrifice bunt by Kourtney Yarnall (Canton, Ohio/Perry) moved the runners to second and third and a single by shortstop Bri Woody (Cleveland, Ohio/Magnificat) brought home Menhart.
Stucin followed Woody and the Panthers pulled starting pitcher Kendall Lust (5-6) in favor of Kacey Locker. Stucin's homer easily cleared the left-field fence and set off a wild celebration at home plate. The plate appearance was Stucin's 16th season of the season.
AU had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning when third baseman Alyssa Kelley (Mentor, Ohio) scored on a wild pitch. Kelley had punched a two-out single to left and moved to third on a single to right field by first baseman Franki Gironda (Akron, Ohio/Hoban).
The Panthers grabbed a 2-1 lead in the second off of starter and winner Emlyn Knerem (Brunswick, Ohio). One of those runs scored on a throwing error and the other came home on a bunt single. After that momentarily blip, Knerem was steady. The Panthers got to her for seven hits, but could never break through against the senior. Knerem is 20-1. This is the third time in her career she's won 20 or more games in a season.
In the second game, AU had 12 hits, drew three walks and put runners on base in every inning but the fifth. Ashland could have done more damage offensively, the Eagles left 12 runners on base. AU led 2-0 after two innings and 3-0 after four frames. ODU got a run in the fifth, but the Eagles answered with a run in the sixth to maintain a three-run cushion.
Menhart, Woody and Jerrica Young (Loudonville, Ohio) had two hits each and Yarnall ripped her second homer of the season in the second inning. Those early runs made life easier for freshman Amber McDermott (Creston, Ohio/Norwayne) who went 4.2 innings and improved to 9-3. When McDermott tired, Knerem came on and earned her third save of the season.
Alex Cribari had two hits for ODU. McDermott and Knerem limited the Panthers to six hits and walked one hitter. Locker (1-1) took the loss.
Ashland plays its next eight games on the road. That stretch begins with a doubleheader at Wayne State on Tuesday (Apr. 10).