TIFFIN, Ohio - The Ashland University softball team was unable to avoid the big inning on Saturday (Apr. 30) afternoon as a five-run fifth inning in game one and an eight-run fourth inning in game two led to the Eagles being swept by the Tiffin Dragons for the second consecutive day. Tiffin won Saturday's games, 5-2 and 16-4.
With the weekend sweep, the Dragons moved past the Eagles into first place in the GLIAC South Division. Tiffin is also ranked third in the Midwest Region and still has time to move up a spot or two in those rankings. Ashland is ninth in those same rankings and is searching for a way to climb into the region's top eight teams. The top eight in the region will advance to the NCAA playoffs. Ashland has made that trip each of the last two seasons.
AU's offense appeared to have come to play on Saturday as a triple by center fielder Lyndsey Brandt (Painesville, Ohio/Riverside) kick started the offense from the opening at-bat in the opener. Bri Woody (Cleveland, Ohio/Magnificat) didn't waste any time putting the Eagles on the board, singling up the middle to plate Brandt and give AU a 1-0 lead.
The Dragons (33-12, 24-6 GLIAC) tied the score in the bottom of the fifth with one swing of the bat. That was a towering home run by Dragons hurler Mindy Meredith off of AU starter and loser Emlyn Knerem (Brunswick, Ohio).
That started a five- run fifth for the Dragons. After Meredith clubbed her second homer of the season, the Dragons got an RBI double from freshman catcher Caitlin Houck and a two-out, two-run single by infielder Amanda Temple.
Knerem fell to 21-6 with the loss. She gave up six hits and two walks.
For the second consecutive day Meredith (13-3) quieted the Eagles' explosive offense. In the series the freshman allowed just two earned runs in 17 innings of work, recording two wins and a save on the weekend.
AU catcher Tawna Garver (Mansfield, Ohio/Hillsdale) was 2-for-3 with an RBI double. Ashland had four hits in the game.
The game one defeat marked the first loss this season for AU when leading after four innings. Entering play on Saturday the Eagles were 21-0 in that category.
In the top of the third inning of game one, Brandt stole the 42nd base of her career, passing 1991 grad Missy Smith to move into second place in AU history.
Game two's top half of the opening inning saw the Dragons get on the board as a Tiffany Smith double caromed off the left field fence to score Temple.
Tiffin pushed across eight runs on seven hits in the top of the fourth inning, to take a 9-0 lead. By this time, the Dragons could see their first GLIAC regular season title getting closer and closer.
The Eagles (27-15, 19-7 GLIAC) were able to rally a bit in the bottom of the fourth, stringing four hits together for a four-run frame. Erica Miller (Indianapolis, Indiana/Franklin Central) blasted a two-run homer over the center field fence to cap the scoring in the stanza.
Tiffin ended the Eagles' comeback hopes by plating two more runs in the top of the fifth.
Tiffin sophomore Amber Young (10-4) earned her second win of the weekend, giving up four runs in four innings of work. Meredith pitched the final three innings and did not allow a run. She allowed one hit, did not walk a batter and struck out three.
Senior Logan Hursey (Zanesville, Ohio/John Glenn) started and lasted 3.2 innings. She took the loss, falling to 2-9. Freshman Carly Clark (Strasburg) pitched the final 3.1 innings. Tiffin banged out 16 hits, led by outfielder Melodi Murrieta, who was 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBI. Tiffin had six players with two or more hits.
The series sweep marks the first time the Eagles have lost four straight since the 2009 postseason.
AU will end its regular season with a crucial doubleheader as it travels to Detroit on Sunday (May 1st) to take on Wayne State. The teams split two games in Ashland last week. Next weekend, Ashland goes to Midland, Mich., for the GLIAC Tournament.