The weather heats up, and the ball starts to fly.
The Ashland University softball team played long ball on a warm Friday (May 8) afternoon in Indianapolis, Ind., hitting a pair of home runs to open up the 2015 NCAA split Midwest Regional tournament with a 5-4 victory over the Truman State Bulldogs.
Ashland, the regional's No. 3 seed, is 39-8, while the Bulldogs, the No. 6 seed, are 33-15. AU will play the Indianapolis Greyhounds, the No. 10-ranked team in Division II, on Saturday (May 9) at 10 a.m. The second-seeded Greyhounds beat the seven-seeded Trevecca Nazarene Trojans, 3-1 in 8 innings, in Game 1 of the afternoon.
Truman State did manage to get on the board first in the top of the first inning. A pair of hits by Andrea Klipsch and Lex Van Nostrand, coupled with back-to-back walks, forced Klipsch in from third base. TSU tallied another run in the second inning when a bloop base hit by Van Nostrand plated Jamie Fowle.
AU responded big in the fourth inning. Junior first baseman Jen Moore led off with a double to left-center field, and two batters later, a Jerrica Young blast over the left-field wall knotted the game at 2.
"Both Jen (Moore) and Jerrica (Young) hit the ball well the last time we were in Indy," said Ashland head coach Sheilah Gulas. "When Jen got on base, I just envisioned Jerrica hitting the ball well. She (Young) then found the pitch she wanted and pounded it."
The Eagles followed the fourth with a crooked number in the fifth. Senior outfielder Taylor Menhart ripped the first pitch of the at-bat over the left-center field wall to give the Eagles their first lead of the afternoon at 3-2.
The rally wasn't over, though. Sophomore second baseman Kalene Freshour reached on an error and proceeded to steal second base. Moore then plated Freshour with a single to center. Moore advanced around the bases and scored herself after junior Bri Buckley beat out a single to the shortstop. The Eagles took a 5-2 advantage into the sixth inning.
The Bulldogs responded in the top of the sixth when they collected four hits and two runs to draw to within one run at 5-4. The Bulldogs were never able to get the tying run in, as senior pitcher Amber McDermott closed out the game with a scoreless seventh.
NOTES: This is AU's third win in the postseason, with McDermott earning all three on the mound…Menhart had multiple extra-base hits in a game for the seventh time in 2015…Ashland is 6-0 this season in games in which it hits two or more home runs.