In one regard, the softball teams from Ashland and Tiffin will be going green on Sunday (May 8). There will be no need for scouting reports to be printed out when the teams collide for the GLIAC Tournament championship.
Tiffin, the tournament's top seed and Ashland, the second seed, will meet Sunday at 10 a.m., for the 2011 GLIAC Tournament championship. AU earned a spot in the game late Saturday afternoon (May 7) with a 3-0 victory over Ferris State. The Eagles will have to beat the green-clad Dragons twice on Sunday to win the tournament. That's not an easy assignment, the Dragons are 2-0 in this tourney, are ranked second in the region and 23rd in the country and are 5-0 against Ashland in 2011.
Right now, however, the Eagles will be happy to celebrate getting to the title game. After losing to Tiffin on Saturday, 8-6, the Eagles rebounded for the win over Ferris State (24-23). The Eagles scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning and that was it for traffic crossing home plate.
The Eagles (32-16) banged out seven hits, three in the first inning. With one out, shortstop Bri Woody (Cleveland, Ohio/Magnificat) doubled to right-center field. Third baseman Alyssa Kelley (Mentor, Ohio) singled to drive in Woody and moved to third when the Bulldogs tried to make a play on Kelley at the plate.
Designated player Logan Hursey (Zanesville, Ohio/John Glenn) was next and she reached on an infield error, which scored Kelley. Second baseman Cayla Seidler (Massillon, Ohio/Massillon Washington) reached on a fielder's choice which retired Hursey. Moments later, Seidler scored when catcher Tawna Garver (Mansfield, Ohio/Hillsdale) doubled to center field.
Three runs turned out to be plenty of support for Ashland's Emlyn Knerem (Brunswick, Ohio), who ran her record to 25-7. Knerem went the distance, pitching a four-hitter. The shutout was her 12th of the season. She did not walk a batter and struck out seven in pitching her 26th complete game of the season.
Dana Bowler (17-11) took the loss. The FSU pitcher allowed only one earned run in six innings of work. FSU committed five errors, one in that AU first inning. Bowler deserves credit for being able to pitch out of trouble throughout the afternoon. She gave the Bulldogs a chance to win after that rough first inning.
The Eagles will attempt to do the same thing on Sunday when they meet Tiffin at Saginaw Valley State. The one thing this run to the tournament championship game has done is help AU's status in a bid for a third consecutive trip to the NCAA playoffs. Ashland entered the tournament ranked seventh in the region. The top eight teams in the region advance to the postseason, which begins next week. The playoff field will be announced on Monday (May 9).
The Eagles have won the GLIAC Tournament championship three times. The last time the Eagles hoisted that piece of hardware was 1998.