2011 Ashland University Softball - The NCAA Playoffs


            Ashland is competing in the NCAA Division II playoffs for the third consecutive season and for the ninth time in school history. AU is one of eight teams in the Midwest Region field.  The Eagles are the overall seventh seed.

            Two four-team, double-elimination tournaments will be played this week (Friday-Sunday, May 13-15) in the Midwest Region. AU will play at Saginaw Valley State and open up against the overall second seed and the top seed at SVSU – Indianapolis.  The weekend schedule appears below.


Friday, May 13 – Midwest Region 2, at Saginaw Valley State

1 p.m. – Northern Kentucky (29-15) vs. Saginaw Valley State (35-16) (Game #1)

3:30 p.m. – Ashland (32-17) vs. Indianapolis (34-12-1) (Game #2)


Saturday, May 14

11 a.m. – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 (Game #3)

1:30 p.m. – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 (Game #4)

4 p.m. -  Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game #4


Sunday, May 15

1 p.m. – Winner Game #3 vs. Winner #5 (Game #6)

3:30 p.m. – If Necessary (Game #7)


            The other Midwest regional tournament will be played at Grand Valley State. Tiffin, the region's overall top seed, plays Lewis in the first round and Grand Valley State will battle Quincy.  The two tournament winners from this weekend will meet next week (May 20-21) for the regional championship and the right to advance to the NCAA World Series, May 26-30 in Salem, Va.


The Regional Field

            Here is a look at AU's competition in the regional field.

            Indianapolis (34-12-1)

            Record in Last 10 Games – 7-3

            Conference Play – 16-6/4th, 1-2 at the GLVC Tournament

            Vs. Ashland in 2011 – 0-0

            All-Time Series – Ashland leads, 11-8

            The Greyhounds are making their fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA playoffs. In 2009, Indy won the Midwest Regional championship and went 1-2 at the World Series. That year, they defeated Saginaw Valley State in the regional title game.  The 'Hounds were ranked 14th in the country last week.  Head coach Melissa Frost-Fisher is in her seventh season at Indy where she is 229-137-1.  Indy is 13-4 this year on a neutral field.  Senior righty Jennifer DeMotte is 20-5 with a 1.35 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 160.1 innings.  Batters are hitting .190 against her.  Indianapolis has four players hitting .333 or better. The 'Hounds have clubbed 32 home runs.

            Sophomore third baseman Kelsey Rummel, a first team All-Great Lakes Valley Conference selection, is hitting a team-high .382 with a homer and 22 RBI.  DeMotte, who also plays the outfield and is a member of the All-GLVC first team, is hitting .378 with two homers and 30 RBI. She also has 10 doubles.  Senior infielder Jamie Keltz is swinging at a .340 clip with team highs of nine homers and 33 RBI.  Freshman catcher Cori Eckerle, another first team all-conference performer, has eight homers and 24 RBI.

            The last time the Eagles played the 'Hounds was in Florida on Mar. 11, 2009. AU won in eight innings, 2-1.  The winning pitcher in that game was Emlyn Knerem (Brunswick, Ohio) and that was the first victory of her collegiate career.


Northern Kentucky (29-15)

Record in Last 10 Games – 7-3

Conference Play – 18-5/3rd, 1-2 at the GLVC Tournament

Vs. Ashland in 2011 – 2-0 (Mar. 22 at NKU, W, 4-1, W 5-4 in 9 innings)

All-Time Series – Ashland leads, 30-20

            This is the third straight year NKU has advanced to the postseason and it is the school's eighth trip to the playoffs. A year ago, the Norse played in the playoffs at Ashland.  The Eagles knocked off NKU, 2-1 in nine innings. Last season, Ashland was 2-1 against NKU.  Junior outfielder Ashley Gates is hitting a team-high .438 with nine homers and 33 RBI. She has a .777 slugging percentage and a .527 on-base percentage and is an All-GLVC first team honoree.  Sophomore pitcher-utility Emily Schwaeble, another first team all-conference pick, is hitting .360 with eight homers and 44 RBI.  Junior shortstop Jessica Farris is hitting .336 with a homer and 19 RBI. She is 11-for-12 in stolen base tries.

            Senior April Ehlers is 13-8 with a 1.66 ERA and 16 complete games.  She has 193 strikeouts in 130.2 innings and a .179 batting average against.  Senior righty Chelsie Roy is 12-3 with a 1.65 ERA. Head coach Kathy Stewart is NKU's career wins leader. She is in her 13th season and is 434-235.  In 2005, NKU was 55-2 and won 55 consecutive games.



Saginaw Valley State (35-16)

Record in Last 10 Games – 6-4

Conference Play – 22-8/1st in GLIAC North Division, 0-2 at GLIAC Tournament

Vs. Ashland in 2011 – 0-0

All-Time Series – Ashland leads, 22-10

            The Cards feature the GLIAC pitcher of the year in senior Jade Fulton.  She is 24-9 with a 1.28 ERA.  Fulton, a right-hander, has whiffed 335 batters in 219 innings of work.  Batters are hitting .204 against her.  When Fulton needs a break, the Cards turn to sophomore right-hander Alexa Gehrls, who is 10-5 with a 2.33 ERA.

            Freshman infielder Marcy Medina is hitting .409 with seven homers and 39 RBI.  Catcher Kalie Burdick, a junior who is a first team All-GLIAC pick, is hitting .375 with four homers, 10 doubles and 20 RBI.  Junior utility Natalie Wellman owns a .369 batting average with four homers and 31 RBI.  Senior infielder Jill Peterson is hitting .307 with seven homers and 37 RBI.  She has 10 doubles.

            Ashland's series with SVSU was rained out this season. The last time the teams played was on Apr. 11, 2010, in Ashland and the Eagles swept a doubleheader, 4-1 and 4-3.


Scouting the Eagles

Overall Record – 32-17

Record in Last 10 Games – 5-5

Conference Play – 21-7/2nd in GLIAC South/3-2 in the GLIAC Tournament

            Ashland advanced to the championship of the GLIAC Tournament where it lost to Tiffin, 5-1.  All five of AU's losses in the last 10 games have come to the Dragons.  The Eagles have been the picture of consistency over the last three years.  The chart below gives a clear picture of that.


Year                Overall Record                      GLIAC Record

2011                32-17                                       21-7

2010                36-13                                       20-6

2009                36-14                                       22-4

TOT                 104-44 (.703)                          63-17 (.788)


AU's NCAA Division II Postseason History

            Ashland's postseason history can be found below.

Year                Record            Finish

2010                3-2                   Advanced to Super Regional Championship

2009                0-2                   Advanced to Regional Tournament

2003                2-2                   Advanced to Regional Tournament

2002                3-2                   Advanced to Regional Championship

1999                3-2                   Advanced to Regional Championship

1998                2-2                   Advanced to Regional Championship

1997                0-2                   Advanced to Regional Tournament

1996                1-2                   Advanced to Regional Tournament

TOT                 14-16


Head Coach Sheilah Gulas

            Gulas is in her 24th year as a collegiate head coach. Her career record is 729-374 (.661). This is her 15th season at Ashland where she is 526-250 (.678). Gulas is AU's career wins leader.  She has guided the Eagles to eight NCAA playoffs appearances. Her Ashland teams have won 40 or more games four times, 30 or more games nine times, won five GLIAC regular season titles and captured three GLIAC Tournament championships.  The 1998 team coached by Gulas set a school single-season record for wins, going 53-6.

             AU has gone 13-14 in NCAA playoff games under Gulas. A year ago, the Eagles reached the Midwest Super Regional where they lost to Wayne State, 2-0.  That was the fourth time the Eagles have reached the regional championship under Gulas.


Eye On the Eagles

            Senior center fielder Lyndsey Brandt (Painesville, Ohio/Riverside) and Knerem were both named first team All-GLIAC. This is the first time in her career Brandt has attained that honor. She is seventh in the conference in runs (40) and ninth in hits (57).  Brandt is hitting .361, which puts her third on the team. She is first in stolen bases (13-of-15) and is second in career stolen bases (42) at AU.  Brandt is a three-year starter.

            Knerem is the GLIAC leader in wins (25).  In her career she is 65-20 with 29 shutouts and six no-hitters.   This year, Knerem has set career highs for wins, strikeouts (275) and shutouts (12).  In 2011, the junior has pitched four no-hitters, including three, five-inning perfect games.  Knerem is third at AU in career wins and she is second in career strikeouts (796).  She has pitched 586 innings, which puts her fourth on the school's career list. A year ago, Knerem was named first team all-region and was a second team All-America (Daktronics).

            Senior designated player-pitcher Logan Hursey (Zanesville, Ohio/John Glenn) is the team leader in home runs (10), RBI (39), doubles (16) and slugging percentage (.696).  She is tied for second in the GLIAC in doubles and is sixth in home runs and slugging percentage (.696).  She is seventh in total bases (96).  Hursey is second in career homers (29) and third in career RBI (117). She is fifth in career doubles (36).  Hursey has 42 career wins, which puts her sixth in school history.  Hursey was a second team All-GLIAC pick this year after being a first team all-conference selection in 2009 and 2010.  She was named first team all-region in 2010 and was a second team Daktronics All-America.

            Junior third baseman Alyssa Kelley (Mentor, Ohio) is hitting a team-high .379. She has three homers and 32 RBI and is eighth in the GLIAC in hits (58). Kelley is a second team All-GLIAC choice.  She has earned All-GLIAC honors each of her three years at AU.  Sophomore catcher Tawna Garver (Mansfield, Ohio/Hillsdale) is a second team all-conference performer for the second consecutive year.  Garver is hitting .282 with three homers and 25 RBI and has committed only three errors in 48 games.

            Shortstop Bri Woody (Cleveland, Ohio/Magnificat) was named second team All-GLIAC for the first time in her career. Woody is hitting .336 (fourth on the team) with four homers (second on the team) and 33 RBI.  In five games at the GLIAC Tournament, Woody hit .412 (7-of-17) with four RBI. Woody is 12-for-12 on stolen base attempts this year (she is second on the team in thefts).

            Freshman second baseman Cayla Seidler (Massillon, Ohio/Washington) and sophomore first baseman Frankie Gironda (Akron, Ohio/Hoban) were named to the All-GLIAC honorable mention list.  Senior outfielder Erica Miller (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) has 202 career hits, which ties her for third place on AU's career list.  Miller is one of four players in school history with over 200 hits.  Miller is also fourth in career doubles (37) at Ashland.


Streaks, Strings and Things

  • Woody has a current eight-game hitting streak. The season's longest streak belongs to Kelley, who hit in 19 consecutive games at one point.
  • Kelley has a team-high 16 multi-hit games and Brandt and Hursey have 15 each.
  • Since moving Brandt into the leadoff spot midway through the season, the Eagles are 17-8.
  • AU is second in the nation in fielding percentage (.979).  The national leader is Dowling (.981).
  • Batters leading off an inning are hitting .205 against Knerem.
  • Knerem's season high in strikeouts is 17, against Adelphi on Mar. 12.  That game went nine innings.
  • Knerem is second in the country in shutouts (12), trailing only Torie Bunzell of Quincy (14).  The AU righty is eighth in wins (25), 11th in strikeouts (275) and 20th in strikeouts per seven innings (9.2).


Changing of the Seasons

           Depending on how long Ashland's postseason lasts, Knerem could establish a number of single-season records. Going into the regional tournament, here is where she stands in a number of categories.


Statistic                     Knerem                      Record

Wins                          25                                26 – Josie Nelson (2003)/Natalie Pry (1998)

Innings                       209.2                           236.0 – Josie Nelson (2003)

Complete Games       33                                33 – Josie Nelson (2003)

Strikeouts                  275                              370 – Josie Nelson (2003)

Starts                         33                                36 – Jaime Williams (2005)

Games                        38                                39 – Jaime Williams (2007)

Shutouts                    12                                14 -  Josie Nelson (2003)


Fantastic Freshmen

           Two players on this Ashland team have been named the GLIAC freshman of the year. Miller received that award in 2008 and Knerem was the loop's top rookie in 2009.


Talking Tournament

           Gulas on the makeup of the tournament.

            "I'm excited about it.  In our conference we play the same teams, some of them we've seen four and five times.  Now we have two teams we haven't seen this year and we've only played Northern Kentucky once.  That's the thing that excites me."


            Gulas on the experience of the Eagles.

            "Our players have been ready for this season since really, July 1.  We were in a different role this year than the past and our players handled it very well.  We weren't the top team and able to overpower teams.  We had to fight through some obstacles and I think we handled it very well." 


            Gulas on Knerem and her health entering the playoffs.

            "She's throwing very well at this point.  The conference tournament was grueling, but she threw well every single game.  I think she looks strong right now.  I think the tournament helped increase her endurance.  I think the week where we played 10 games, I think she could build her base.  She's not exhausted, she has that extra base."