Just up the street from Wayne State, the Detroit Tigers are establishing themselves as a hard-hitting bunch. This past weekend, the Motor City Kitties cuffed around the Boston Red Sox in a three-game sweep.
AU softball coach Sheilah Gulas might be tempted to give Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine a call. On Tuesday (Apr. 10) in cold, windy Detroit, the Wayne State softball team hit like Prince Fielder and Company. The Warriors scored 18 runs and had 26 hits in sweeping Ashland, 6-5 and 12-3.
The Eagles (30-10/15-6 GLIAC) haven't experienced this kind of misfortune much over the last few seasons. But this is the start of what looks like the most difficult stretch of the season and for the last several days, Gulas warned AU players and fans that the Warriors (18-18/10-8) were surging. No one doubts her now.
In the first game of the doubleheader, AU carried a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning. The Eagles had their ace, senior Emlyn Knerem (Brunswick, Ohio), in the circle. Knerem was carrying a 20-1 mark next to her name and very few pitchers in this part of the country have been as successful as Knerem over the last four years.
The Warriors got a double from Shannon Hilton to start the inning and Knerem walked the next batter to put runners at first and second. A sacrifice bunt moved each runner up a base for Nikki Fulton, who doubled to right-center field to score two runs and tie the game, 5-5. Fulton's two-bagger was followed by an AU error to put runners at first and third base. WSU outfielder Alison Allen, one of the GLIAC's top hitters, put an exclamation point on the WSU comeback with a sacrifice fly to right field to bring home Fulton with the winning run.
Fulton was 3-for-4 with three RBI and first baseman Rebecca Ryan was 2-for-3 with two RBI. Fulton had two doubles and a homer and Ryan had a double and a homer.
AU got to WSU starter and winner Sam Cain (12-9) for nine hits. Center fielder Taylor Menhart (Twinsburg, Ohio) was 3-for-4 with a double and one RBI. Menhart is hitting .378 and is second on the team in RBI (26). Freshman Jerrica Young (Loudonville, Ohio) clubbed her team-high sixth homer of the season.
In the nightcap, Ashland led, 3-0 after one inning. First baseman Franki Gironda (Akron, Ohio/Hoban) gave the Eagles that early lead with a three-run homer. That was her fourth home run of the campaign.
That three-run advantage held up until the middle innings and that's when the game took a turn for the worse if you were clad in Purple and Gold. WSU got to AU starter and loser Amber McDermott (Creston, Ohio/Norwayne) for six runs in the fourth inning. Hilton had a double and a single in the inning and Fulton drove in one run with a sacrifice fly. Allen doubled to bring home another run. When the damage was complete, Wayne State had scored six times on six hits.
The carnage didn't stop there. WSU scored twice in the fifth inning on a two-run double by Allen and added four runs in the top of the seventh inning. The big blow in that stanza was a three-run homer by Stephanie Foreman.
McDermott (9-4) lasted five innings and allowed eight runs on 14 hits. McKenna Galloway (Brunswick, Ohio) pitched the final two innings. Lee shook off that rugged first inning to throw a complete game. She allowed four hits, two after AU's first at-bat. Lee walked three and struck out four.
No AU player had more than one hit. Allen was 2-for-5 with four RBI for WSU and Foreman was 3-for-5 with three RBI. Logan White and Hilton were both 3-for-5.
The Eagles will return to the diamond on Friday (Apr. 13, 3:30 p.m.) at Hillsdale.