Getting through the GLIAC softball tournament unscathed is like navigating an obstacle course without encountering serious consequences.
On Saturday (May 4) at Findlay on the second day of the league tournament, the Ashland University Eagles ran into a few walls and had to try and stay upright on a slippery slope.
The Eagles lost a pair of gut-wrenching, one-run games and that ended their run at the 2013 tournament. Ashland started the day with a 1-0 setback against top-seeded Grand Valley State. Both teams entered the game 2-0 at the tournament.
After that loss, AU faced an elimination game against Wayne State. On Friday, the Eagles handed the Warriors their first loss of the tournament. This time, the Warriors slipped by the Eagles, 3-2.
Ashland is 27-18 and is ranked sixth in the region. The top eight teams in the region will advance to the NCAA regional tournament. AU will find out if its season will continue on Monday (May 6). The Eagles have reached the postseason for four consecutive seasons.
The AU-GVSU game was dominated by pitching. Ashland's Amber McDermott (Creston, Ohio/Norwayne) pitched six brilliant innings, allowing a run on four hits. The game's lone run came in the sixth inning. Emily Jones walked and with two outs, Kayleigh Bertram doubled to get her home.
That proved to be enough for GVSU pitcher Hannah Santoro. She quieted the Eagles on four hits. Santoro is 21-1. Grand Valley State is 39-4 and has a 12-game winning streak.
In the second game of the day, AU fell behind, 2-0 in the top of the first inning. The Warriors got to AU starter Sarah Alley (Milford, Ohio) for a pair of run-scoring singles. Those were produced by catcher Emily Bryce and first baseman Amanda Burnard.
The Eagles tied the score, 2-2 in the fourth inning. Center fielder Taylor Menhart (Twinsburg, Ohio) singled to plate one run and left fielder Carly West (Ashland, Ohio/Hillsdale) had an infield single to get the other run home.
The Warriors (28-20) wasted no time regaining the lead. In the top of the fifth, center fielder Logan Smith singled and reached second base via a stolen base. Moments later she raced home on two-out single by Stephanie Foreman.
AU had a great opportunity to tie the game or take the lead in the sixth inning. The Eagles got the bases loaded with two outs, but couldn't break through against starter and winner Mackenzie Boehler (17-4). Boehler worked six innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits. She walked one and struck out four.
Briana Lee picked up her fifth save of the season by working a scoreless seventh inning.
Alley went the route for the Eagles and allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits.
Grand Valley State and Wayne State will play on Sunday (May 5, 10 a.m.) in the GLIAC championship game. WSU will have to beat the Lakers twice to take the championship. The Lakers are ranked ninth in the nation and second in the region.