Ashland University's softball team came within one game of winning the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's 2015 regular-season title.
The Eagles will look to get over the conference championship hurdle at the 2015 GLIAC Tournament, beginning on Friday (May 1) at noon against No. 7 Findlay. The GLIAC tourney will be played at Marathon Diamonds in Findlay, Ohio.
Ashland comes into the double-elimination conference tournament at 36-6 overall and 21-5 in the GLIAC, and is ranked 20th in the country and third in the Midwest Region. AU had winning streaks of 12 and 11 games during the regular year.
Findlay is 26-21, 14-12.
The Eagles finished second during the GLIAC regular season, one game behind Wayne State (38-17, 22-4).
"I don't know if that's the sole motivation," Ashland head coach Sheilah Gulas said of finishing second in the conference's regular year. "I feel that from Day 1 they set foot on campus in the fall, it was the goal of this team to win a GLIAC championship.
"Definitely, in the regular season, we had a great run at it and finished second. Now, we wrap that up and move on and we start fresh, 0-0, with everybody, with that same goal in mind. They're very motivated for that goal."
Setting Up The GLIAC Tournament
The eight-team tournament begins on Friday at 10 a.m. with two games – No. 8 Tiffin (23-21, 14-12) vs. No. 1 Wayne State and No. 4 Grand Valley State (31-13, 17-8) vs. No. 5 Walsh (22-14, 16-10). At noon, besides Ashland-Findlay, No. 6 Hillsdale (23-21, 14-12) and No. 3 Saginaw Valley State (28-17, 18-6) square off.
"I would definitely say that anyone in the pool has the potential to come out and win it," Gulas said. "It's going to be the hot team this weekend. It's going to be the team that can string runs together and be consistent with their defense, because I really don't think there's going to be a lot of low-scoring games.
"There's going to be runs scored, so you want to be the team that's scoring the most."
The championship game is set for Sunday (May 3) at 10 a.m., with a second title tilt, if necessary, to follow.
After the first two games of the tournament on Friday, there will be a short awards ceremony to announce the 2015 All-GLIAC teams.
Eagles Scouting Report
Ashland's top two hitters are senior center fielder Taylor Menhart (.441 average, 16 doubles, seven triples, seven home runs, 41 RBIs and seven stolen bases) and junior first baseman Jen Moore (.402 average, nine doubles, one triple, 10 home runs, 40 RBIs and five stolen bases)…Eight players with at least 99 at-bats are hitting .312 or higher…The Eagles lead the GLIAC in runs scored (270), triples (14), batting average (.346), on-base percentage (.407) and slugging percentage (.506)…Junior left-hander Sarah Alley is 12-0 with two saves and a 1.39 earned run average in 80 2/3 innings, while senior righty Amber McDermott is 11-2, 2.31 in 84 2/3 frames…Ashland is third in the GLIAC in team ERA (2.27).
Ashland's 36 wins are the most for the program since its 2012 squad went 42-17…Friday's opener will pit the GLIAC's top two fielding teams against one another – Findlay first with a .964 fielding percentage, and AU second at .963.