It's not a bad thing to start the second season as the second seed. That's what's in store for the Ashland University softball team.
Tuesday (Apr. 24) in Detroit, the Eagles ended the regular season with a split of a doubleheader against Wayne State. The Warriors won the first game, 3-2 and the Eagles came back with an 8-6 victory in the second game. AU will go into this weekend's GLIAC Tournament at Findlay as the second overall seed. Ashland is 39-13, 23-9 in conference play. Grand Valley State is the top seed with a 41-11 record, 24-8 in the league.
Tuesday's split allowed the Eagles to claim the GLIAC South Division crown. A Wayne State sweep would have pushed the Warriors to the top of the division. WSU won three of four games from AU this season. The Warriors are 30-20, 22-10 in the GLIAC.
In Tuesday's first game, the Warriors did what few have managed this year – to hang a loss behind Emlyn Knerem's (Brunswick, Ohio) name. The teams went to the bottom of the seventh inning tied, 2-2. Logan White led off the frame with a single. After a fielder's choice off the bat of Alison Allen forced out White at second base, Rebecca Ryan singled to move Allen to second base. Stephanie Foreman doubled to left field to score Allen with the winning run. Foreman was 4-for-4 and drove in three WSU runs. She singled to drive in runs in the first and fifth innings.
WSU hurler Sam Cain limited Ashland to a pair of runs on four hits. First baseman Franki Gironda (Akron, Ohio/Hoban) doubled to bring in a run in the top of the first inning and in the top of the sixth inning, third baseman Alyssa Kelley (Mentor, Ohio) belted her third homer of the year.
Cain walked two and struck out five in raising her record to 19-9. Knerem went the distance and allowed three runs on 12 hits. She walked one and struck out six. The loss left her with a 26-3 record. Two of those losses have come to the Warriors.
In the second game, freshmen Taylor Menhart (Twinsburg, Ohio) and Jerrica Young (Loudonville, Ohio) gave the Warriors fits. Both players homered twice. Menhart was 2-for-3 with five RBI and Young was 2-for-3 with three RBI. Young leads the Eagles with 10 roundtrippers. Menhart has five homers. Ashland had nine hits and five of those went for extra bases.
Ashland led, 6-1 after three innings. Menhart's first homer, a three-run shot, came in the first inning. In the third inning, Young led off with a homer down the left-field line and moments later, Menhart followed a Gironda single with another blast down the left-field line.
AU's final runs came in the fourth when Young homered. Her circuit clout came after a double by second baseman Cayla Seidler (Massillon, Ohio/Washington).
Freshman Amber McDermott (Creston, Ohio/Norwayne) pitched the first six innings and allowed six runs on 10 hits. She walked two and struck out one. Knerem pitched a scoreless seventh inning to earn her fourth save of the year. McDermott is 12-6.
Cain (19-10) went the first 2.1 innings for WSU and took the loss.
Allen was 3-for-4 with a double and four RBI and shortstop Lauren Histed was 3-for-3 with three runs scored for Wayne State.
The GLIAC Tournament begins on Friday (Apr. 27) and runs through Sunday. This is an eight-team, double-elimination event.