There are some things even the most ardent Ashland University softball fans might not know about the 2015 edition of the Eagles.
First, Ashland has a 17-1 record following a doubleheader sweep of Notre Dame College on Tuesday (March 24) at Brookside Park, 8-1 and 11-3 in six innings. The Eagles' .944 winning percentage is the best in Division II, ahead of Valdosta State's .935 (29-2).
Second, AU's 12-game winning streak is the team's best since another 12-gamer from March 26-April 15, 2011.
Finally, the Eagles are off to their best 18-game start since racing to a 17-1 record in 1998 – a season which ended with a 53-6 mark.
"We've been scoring a lot of runs, and we've just been getting some good solid at-bats from a lot of different people," said Ashland head coach Sheilah Gulas. "We're just finding a way through the entire batting order to create something.
"This team has worked extremely hard in the offseason. I definitely credit that, and also, I would like to credit (assistant coach) Shannon (Schaub) and the job she's doing with the pitchers and catchers. That's a huge part of where we are right now. We've gotten a lot of great work from our pitching staff."
In Game 1 on Tuesday, senior pitcher Sarah Alley improved to 2-0 after authoring a complete-game four-hitter. She struck out eight and didn't walk a batter.
"We definitely needed to get her back in a game," Gulas said, "and she did a great job out there."
Senior center fielder Taylor Menhart was 2-for-3 with a double, triple and three RBIs, while junior right fielder Shelbie Prince had a double and three RBIs in AU's 11-hit attack. Junior third baseman Kayla Prokopakis and junior catcher Bri Buckley also had two hits in the opening victory.
In the nightcap, Menhart, the reigning Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Week, had a home run and four RBIs and crossed the plate three times.
"She's just seeing the ball so well right now. She's not chasing anything," Gulas said. "She's just within her zone and hitting the ball hard every time."
Junior first baseman Jen Moore was 2-for-2 with a homer, three RBIs and two runs scored, and sophomore second baseman Kalene Freshour, Buckley, Prince and sophomore left fielder Ally Farrah each had two of the Eagles' 14 hits.
The Eagles will return to GLIAC play on Saturday at noon at home against Saginaw Valley State and Sunday at noon at home against Wayne State. Ashland is 2-0 in GLIAC play.
"We've got this weekend with Wayne State and Saginaw. We just have to really keep our sight now on where we're going with the conference," Gulas said. "This is their first GLIAC games. This is a great weekend for us to just focus on the GLIAC and come out of here with some wins this weekend, and then I'll celebrate what this team is doing."