- Enters the 2017 season needing one win for 900 in her collegiate coaching career (899-464-1, .659)
- Enters the 2017 season needing seven wins for 700 at Ashland (693-342-1, .669)
Over the years, Ashland University pitchers have had the ability to make opposing hitters swing and miss.
That's something AU head coach Sheilah Gulas hasn't done much - swing and miss. Throughout her career, which has featured success at three stops, she has had the ability to consistently put a winning product on the field.
At Ashland, Gulas is 693-342-1 in 20 years. She is the program's career leader in victories. Over the last 30 years as a head coach at Allegheny, Wittenberg and Ashland, Gulas is 899-464-1. Gulas won her 800th game in the 2013 NCAA playoffs in Indianapolis. The victory came against Wayne State.
The 2016-17 school year will mark the second for Gulas' added duties as both Assistant Athletic Director and Senior Women's Administrator. This is Gulas' 21st season at Ashland, and she is the longest-serving current AU head coach.
The 2016 campaign saw Gulas and the Eagles finish fifth in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season, but as the runner-up in the GLIAC Tournament.
In 2015, Ashland made the NCAA postseason for the seventh season in a row, and finished with a 39-10 record, its best mark in 17 seasons. The Eagles boasted senior center fielder Taylor Menhart, who earned All-America and Academic All-America honors, as well as three GLIAC first-teamers - Menhart, junior first baseman Jen Moore and junior pitcher Sarah Alley.
Under Gulas, the Eagles have never experienced a losing season.
AU had to replace some of its most productive hitters in 2014. Gulas expertly plugged newcomers into the lineup at several spots and the Eagles hit their stride at mid-season. Once again, at season's end, AU was one of the region's best teams. Menhart was a first-team All-GLIAC selection, and pitcher-designated hitter Alley developed into one of the league's best all-around players. The pitching staff, which showed constant improvement, didn't list a senior.
In 2013, Gulas had to rebuild the Eagles in the circle and on the left side of the infield. That would be a daunting task for many programs. AU struggled early in the season in Florida against some rugged competition. As the season progressed, the Eagles showed constant improvement. At one point the Eagles were 8-11. They reversed their season by going 12-2 over their next 14 games. Ashland won two games in the Midwest Sub-regional Tournament at Indianapolis. They were eliminated from the postseason by the host Greyhounds, the nation's top-ranked team.
The 2011-12 season saw the Eagles go 42-17, 23-9 in the GLIAC. This was the fourth straight year AU won 20 or more games in conference play. The Eagles boasted the GLIAC pitcher of the year in Emlyn Knerem and the GLIAC co-player of the year in third baseman Alyssa Kelley. Knerem also earned All-America honors and was an Academic All-American.
In 2010-11, Gulas and the Eagles finished 33-19, 21-7 in GLIAC play. Ashland advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs and advanced to the championship game of the GLIAC Tournament. The Eagles went 1-2 in NCAA postseason play. The 2010-11 Eagles featured Knerem and pitcher-designated player Logan Hursey, probably the program's best two-way player. AU finished second in the nation in fielding percentage.
The 2010 Eagles went 36-13 and played in the best-of-three Midwest Super Region Championship. The season ended there, one step away from the NCAA Championships. The Eagles hosted the first round of the postseason at Brookside Park, winning that tournament with a 3-0 record.
In 2009, the Eagles were 36-14. They were 22-4 during the GLIAC regular season and won the conference regular season title. AU hosted first-round NCAA playoff games at Brookside Park and was the top seed in the regional playoff bracket.
Gulas was named the GLIAC coach of the year in 2009 and 2010. That award is selected by the league coaches. She's guided teams to the NCAA playoffs 12 times, won 40-plus games in a season five times, enjoyed 11 years of 30 or more wins and her teams have claimed five GLIAC regular-season titles and three GLIAC tournament crowns.
Gulas has recruited and coached some of the best players in the program's history.
Outfielder Sunny Litteral, an anchor on some of the first teams Gulas coached at Ashland, was a four-time All-America. Litteral owns a bevy of school records and played professional softball when her collegiate career was finished. Litteral's teammate, pitcher Natalie Pry, was one of the most dominant pitchers in Division II during her career. She won 78 games for the Eagles and was part of the 2009 AU Hall of Fame class.
Other standouts that played for Gulas include catcher Alicia Longstreth, catcher Julie Weir and pitcher Josie Nelson. Although the names have changed throughout the years, the Eagles' rate of success has remained constant.
In 1998, her second year in the Ashland dugout, Gulas led the Eagles to a 53-6 record. That's the best single-season record in school history, and at the end of the year, AU was ranked third in the country.
In 1999, Ashland began the season ranked 13th in the country. After a 7-7 start, the Eagles won 25 of 27 games and finished 45-15.
The 2001 campaign brought a 39-20 record and Longstreth and Weir were both honored as All-Americas. Longstreth was also a first-team Academic All-America.
The 2003 season saw Nelson come into her own as one of the top pitchers in the nation. She led the country in strikeouts per seven innings and was a third-team All-America. The Eagles were 40-18 and advanced to the NCAA regional tournament for the second consecutive season.
In 2006, the Eagles had one of the youngest teams in Gulas' tenure. That team matured quickly and put together a 35-21 record.
Gulas had several stops as a head coach before arriving at Ashland. Her coaching career began at Division III Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa. She coached the Gators from 1987-90, and was 123-38. Allegheny was the national runner-up in 1988 and fifth in the country in 1987, 1989 and 1990. Gulas was named the NCAA Division III national coach of the year in 1988 and 1989, and was the regional coach of the year from 1987-89.
Gulas left Allegheny to coach at Wittenberg, another Division III institution. She stayed there from 1991-96. Her 1994 team set a school single-season record for wins (18), and her teams were ranked among the nation's Top 10 academic teams every season. Gulas also coached women's soccer at Wittenberg.
Throughout her career, Gulas has been active on the national level. She's served on a wide range of NCAA committees, and from 1990-95, was the chairperson for Division III on the NCAA softball sport committee. Gulas served as the National Fastpitch Coaches Association First Vice-President from 2001-05. In 2007, when Ashland hosted the NCAA Division II national championships in Akron, Ohio, Gulas played a lead role in the planning and direction of that event.
Gulas is a 1983 graduate of Clarion, earning a degree in elementary education. She added a master's degree in education from Allegheny in 1989.
The AU head coach and her husband, George, reside in Medina, Ohio.
Gulas Year-By-Year At Ashland