The Ashland University softball team may have had its back to the wall on Saturday (Mar. 23) at Brookside Park against Ferris State, but the Eagles' bats were in the upright and locked position.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning in the first game of a doubleheader, freshman designated player Jen Moore (Jeromesville, Ohio/Hillsdale) lined a double down the left field line past a lunging Alex Wittman to drive in two runs and give the Eagles a walk-off, 6-5 win.
That hit turned out to be more than a spark, it grew into a bonfire as the Eagles won, 11-1 in five innings in the second game.
The sweep allows the Eagles to creep within one game of .500. Ashland is 8-9 and hosts 17th-ranked Grand Valley State on Sunday (Mar. 24) at noon. These were the first two GLIAC games of the season.
Ferris State is 7-7 and 0-2.
Moore went 4-for-6 with four RBI in her first conference doubleheader. The Eagles had 17 hits on the day, nine in the second game and eight in the first.
In the first game, the Eagles spent the early innings dodging trouble. It was 1-1 after three innings, but the Bulldogs had stranded six base runners. AU starter McKenna Galloway (Brunswick) departed after three frames, giving up a run on two hits. She struggled with her control, walking five and hitting a batter.
In the fourth, the Bulldogs exploded for four runs against sophomore Amber McDermott (Creston, Ohio/Norwayne). A year ago, McDermott (1-2) demonstrated the ability to maintain her composure when a blip appeared on the screen. She did that in this game. After that rocky fourth inning when she allowed four runs on four hits, she didn't allow another run to cross the plate. She pitched the remainder of the game and got her first win of the season.
Down 5-1, Ashland scored a run on a passed ball in the fifth. In the seventh, shortstop Jamie Weber (Orient, Ohio/Teays Valley) singled to left field and sophomore third baseman Jerrica Young (Loudonville, Ohio) homered to left field to get the Eagles to within 5-4.
FSU pitcher Dana Bowler retired the next two hitters. Then senior first baseman Franki Gironda (Akron, Ohio/Hoban) walked and Bowler mishandled Kourtney Yarnall's (Canton, Ohio/Perry) grounder back to the circle. That allowed Yarnall to get to first base and pinch runner Bri Buckley (Elyria, Ohio/Keystone) to reach second.
Moore's shot down the left field line easily brought in Buckley. The only question was if Yarnall could make it home. With two outs she was running with the crack of the bat and there was no play at the plate.
Moore and Weber were the lone Eagles with two hits in the game.
Lainee Clay was 2-for-2 with two RBI for FSU. First baseman Lindsey Pettit drove in two runs.
In the nightcap, AU scored five times in the second inning and five times in the third. The Bulldogs hurt themselves with three errors in the third inning. For the game, second baseman Cayla Seidler (Massillon, Ohio/Massillon Washington) was 1-for-3 and drove in three runs. Young, Moore and catcher Tawna Garver (Mansfield, Ohio/Hillsdale) had two RBI each. AU had two extra-base hits – doubles by Gironda and Buckley.
Sophomore pitcher Sarah Alley (Milford, Ohio) raised her record to 6-3 in a route-going effort. She allowed seven hits, but didn't walk anyone.
The Eagles supported Alley with a pair of double plays. The last of those twin killings came in the fifth inning. FSU opened the frame with three straight singles to load the bases. Alley got Alyssa Smith via a strikeout and then got Morgan Kramerich to fly out to right field. Wittman attempted to score on the play but Erika Garant (Dryden, Mich./Almont) throw to the plate was so strong that Wittman turned and retreated to third after going three-quarters of the way down the line. Garver took Yarnall's throw and fired to third to retire the FSU runner and end the game.