Hursey, Clark Help Eagles Subdue Findlay

A day late and a dollar short?  Not that Ashland University softball team.

            Sunday (Apr. 3) at Brookside Park, the Eagles were right on the money as they swept Findlay, 4-3 and 11-5. AU has won five straight games and seven of its last eight games.  The Eagles are 15-9, 7-1 in the GLIAC.  Sunday's sweep against the Oilers (17-9-1/2-6 GLIAC) came after Saturday's AU-UF doubleheader was rained out. Those two games will be played at a later date.

            AU pitcher-designated hitter Logan Hursey (Zanesville, Ohio/John Glenn) drove in six runs, five in the second game.  Hursey had two homers in the nightcap and has a team-leading five round-trippers.  The senior also has a team-best 23 RBI this season and 101 for her career.

            In the first game, AU turned to junior pitcher Emlyn Knerem (Brunswick, Ohio) to get the day started. Because of threatening weather, the game was moved up from a noon start time to 11:30 a.m.  The morning start didn't seem to fluster Knerem, who allowed three runs on five hits. Knerem did not allow an earned run and struck out nine while walking three.  She pitched her 12th complete game in 15 starts while raising her record to 11-3.

             Ashland had broken out on top, 1-0 in the third when Hursey singled to drive in Erica Miller (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central), who had started the inning with a single up the middle.  Hursey's hit came with two outs.

            Findlay retaliated with three runs in the fifth inning.  The frame included doubles by Courtney Dwyer and Jaci Messmer, one AU error and a fine play up the middle by shortstop Bri Woody (Cleveland, Ohio/Magnificat), who gobbled up a hard-hit grounder by Tori Allen and threw to first to get the UF second baseman by a step.

            Ashland cut the Findlay lead to 3-2 in sixth on an RBI double to right field by catcher Tawna Garver (Mansfield, Ohio/Hillsdale). The double was Garver's first of the year.

            In the bottom of the seventh, center fielder Lyndsey Brandt (Painesville, Ohio/Riverside) led off with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch from Jackie Messersmith (2-1) and came around to score on a single to center field by third baseman Alyssa Kelley (Mentor, Ohio)Chelsea Mayer (Versailles, Ohio) pinch ran for Kelley.  A Hursey single to left moved Mayer to second and a sacrifice bunt by second baseman Cayla Seidler (Massillon, Ohio/Washington) advanced her to third. After an intentional walk to Garver, first baseman Frankie Gironda (Akron, Ohio/Hoban) dropped a single into center for the victory.

            Ashland had 10 hits in the first game but only Garver's double went for extra bases.

            The Eagles started Hursey in the circle in the second game and the Eagles trailed, 2-1 after two innings and 3-1 after three. That immediately raised a red flag because entering Sunday's doubleheader, Ashland was 1-6 when trailing after three innings. On this day, the Eagles were able to bounce back largely due to Hursey's hitting and the pitching of freshman Carly Clark (Strasburg, Ohio), who came out of the bullpen to pitch 4.2 innings and allow two runs on three hits. At one point, Clark retired nine consecutive hitters.  She got 10 outs on ground balls and the two runs she allowed came in the seventh inning on double to short right field.

            The Eagles began their road back to the win in the fourth when with two outs, Woody belted a two-run homer to left.  That was her second homer of the season and it came on the first pitch of the at-bat. The shot tied the game, 3-3.

            Ashland took the lead for good in the sixth inning with four runs on five hits.  Hursey took a 3-2 offering from Brittany Dauterman (2-2) and drove it over the left field fence to score Kelley, who had singled. That made it, 5-3, Ashland.  Later in the inning, Garver doubled home one run and freshman outfielder Carly West (Ashland, Ohio/Hillsdale) singled to bring home another run. West, making her sixth start of the year, was 2-for-4 with two RBI.

            AU batted around in the seventh inning. That flurry produced four runs and Hursey's second homer of the game, a three-run drive to left center field. Kelley had a double in the uprising. The Eagles finished the game with 13 hits.

            Clark is 3-0.  She's worked in seven games and all of those have been in relief.  Findlay used three pitchers. The loss went to Dauterman, the second of the three hurlers.

            The Eagles return to action on Wednesday (Apr. 6, 3:30 p.m.) when they host Lake Erie in a conference doubleheader. A year ago, Ashland went 2-0 against the Storm.