As the leadoff hitter in the lineup for the Ashland University softball team, second baseman Cayla Seidler's (Massillon, Ohio/Massillon Washington) responsibility is to set the table for the rest of the of the order.
Saturday (Mar. 31) at Findlay, Seidler not only set the table, she cleaned the dishes – specifically home plate – as the red-hot Eagles swept Findlay, 5-1 and 7-2.
Seidler blasted her first two homers of the season, drove in three runs, scored twice and went 4-for-7 in the two games. On Wednesday against Tiffin, Seidler had the game-winning RBI in both games of a doubleheader sweep against Tiffin. Since joining the starting lineup a year ago, Seidler has been a solid, and sometimes overlooked player. This season, she's hitting .304 and nine of her 24 hits have gone for extra bases. Weeks like this one will do a lot to increase her visibility.
The same can be said for the Eagles, who have an eight-game winning streak. Ashland is 25-5 and 10-1 in the GLIAC. The Eagles are hitting .299 as a team and the team ERA is 1.88. Right now, there's not much to find fault with either in the field or at the plate for AU.
Seidler led off Saturday's first game with a homer to left field. Ashland added one more run in the inning, center fielder Taylor Menhart (Twinsburg, Ohio) sending a double to left field to score designated player Jerrica Young (Loudonville, Ohio), who had walked.
The Ashland lead grew to 3-0 in third when Young belted her third homer of the year. The rookie shares the team lead in home runs (4) with junior catcher Tawna Garver (Mansfield, Ohio/Hillsdale). Like Seidler, Young had a homer in the second game.
That 3-0 lead would be too much for Findlay (12-11/3-5) to overcome. Senior Emlyn Knerem (Brunswick, Ohio) quieted the Oilers over seven innings, allowing a run on three hits. Knerem is 17-0 and has completed 13 of 15 starting assignments.
The first three hitters in the Ashland lineup – Seidler, Young and third baseman Alyssa Kelley (Mentor, Ohio) – made Findlay starter and loser – Brittany Dauterman (3-1) uneasy all afternoon. Those three combined to go 5-for-10 with four runs scored. Dauterman had two of Findlay's hits and drove in UF's only one run with a home run.
In the second game, Ashland led 2-0 after two innings and 4-2 after four. Young homered in the first inning for a 1-0 lead. She singled to drive in two runs in the fourth. She ended the game 2-for-3 with three RBI. Seidler's second homer of the day came in the sixth inning.
Freshman Amber McDermott (Creston, Ohio/Norwayne) pitched her sixth complete game of the season, holding the Oilers to three hits. McDermott (7-2) walked seven and struck out seven. While McDermott spent much of the game pitching with runners on base, she never allowed the Oilers to get a key hit. Findlay left nine runners on base.
The Eagles and Oilers will play another doubleheader on Sunday (Apr. 1, noon).