For the past several softball seasons, the Ashland University Eagles and Northern Kentucky Norse have been regular participants at the NCAA postseason party. It wouldn't be a surprise to see that happen again this season.
These teams have played so often and watched each other so much that secrets between the two are few and far between. The teams got another close look at each other Sunday (Feb. 26) at NKU where the Eagles swept a doubleheader.
Behind senior Emlyn Knerem (Brunswick, Ohio) the Eagles took the lid-lifter, 4-1. In the second game, AU banged out 10 hits and watched Knerem come out of the bullpen for two spotless innings in a 7-2 triumph. AU is off to a 3-1 start. NKU is 3-3.
Knerem allowed a run on four hits in the first game. This was her first route-going effort of the season. She walked one and struck out 11. The only run Knerem (2-0) allowed was a solo home run by Kaylin Steinmetz.
Ashland scored twice in the fifth inning and twice in the seventh inning. In the fifth, sophomore outfielder Carly West (Ashland, Ohio/Hillsdale) swatted a one-out double. She moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a double by sophomore second baseman Cayla Seidler (Massillon, Ohio/Massillon Washington). Senior third baseman Alyssa Kelley (Mentor, Ohio) brought in Seidler with a single.
Kelley doubled in the seventh to bring in another run. She finished the game 2-for-4. AU's other run in the seventh came home on a walk to freshman outfielder Taylor Menhart (Twinsburg, Ohio).
Starter Emily Schwaeble (2-1) took the loss. She lasted 5.1 innings and allowed two runs on four hits.
In the second game, AU scored a run in each of the first four innings and finished off the Norse with three runs in the top of the seventh inning. That support made life easier for freshman pitcher McKenna Galloway (Brunswick, Ohio), who allowed two runs in five innings. Galloway was touched for three hits. She walked three and struck out three in earning the first win of her college career. Knerem pitched the last two innings and didn't allow a hit. She didn't walk anyone and struck out three.
Sophomore first baseman Franki Gironda (Akron, Ohio/Hoban) was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Senior shortstop Bri Woody (Cleveland, Ohio/Magnificat) was 2-for-3 with a homer and junior catcher Tawna Garver (Mansfield, Ohio/Hillsdale) was 2-for-3 with a double.
Alex Caudill (1-2) took the loss. She started and went six innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits. NKU used three pitchers.