Concluding its fourth consecutive home Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader on Wednesday (March 27), Ashland University's softball team split with No. 17-ranked Wayne State at Brookside Park.
The Eagles, who received votes in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Top 25 for the second week in a row on Wednesday, won the first game 4-3, and lost Game 2, 6-2. Ashland is 18-10 overall and 4-4 in the GLIAC, and the Warriors are 20-7, 3-3.
Ashland's defense did not commit an error in either game, giving the Eagles 12 errorless games so far in 2019 (9-3 record in such games).
"Defensively, we made huge strides from the weekend," said Ashland head coach Emlyn Knerem. "Defensively, we played really, really well."
THE MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
- The Eagles used the long ball to take an early Game 1 lead. Junior designated player Dayna Denner hit a solo home run in the bottom of the second, then junior second baseman Camille Pollutro followed with a two-run shot in the bottom of the third.
- Ashland extended its lead in the bottom of the fifth on a Pollutro sacrifice fly – which became a key tally when, in the top of the seventh, Wayne State scored three runs and had the winning run at the plate. Sophomore pitcher Laney Jones, who was perfect through the first six innings, earned the win to improve to 8-4. She authored a complete-game four hitter, allowing no walks and striking out one.
"Laney threw a heck of a game in Game 1," Knerem said. "She pitched very, very well."
- It was Wayne State who jumped out on top in Game 2, scoring twice thanks to an RBI double from Hannah McClounie and a run-scoring single by Bryanna Kressler. The game remained at 2-0 until the bottom of the fifth, when Denner blooped an RBI single into center field, then senior third baseman Paige Summers cracked a run-scoring single to left to knot the contest at 2.
- The Warriors re-took the lead in the nightcap in the top of the sixth on a two-run homer by Rachelle Clayton, then added to the lead with a bloop RBI single from Rainey Psenicka and a ground-rule RBI double by Kressler.
- Jones has earned wins against two nationally-ranked teams in less than a week – Grand Valley State on Sunday (March 24), and Wayne State on Wednesday.
- Pollutro drove in three runs in Game 1, matching her season high.
"She's been working on some things with coach Pond (assistant coach Erin Pond). I thought she looked good, putting the bat on the ball hard. She was seeing the ball well today."
- Summers was 2-for-4 with an RBI in the nightcap, as Jones (8-5) came on in relief and allowed three hits, two runs and two walks in 4 2/3 frames.
- Sophomore left fielder Emma Lawson was 2-for-3 in the victory. With a hit in Game 2, Lawson extended her current hitting streak to 10 games. Senior center fielder Erika Farst had a hit in each game to move her hit streak to seven contests.
- The Eagles are 7-3 in one-run games this season.
- Ashland has played 28 games (with two more scheduled) through March. The Eagles haven't played that many games through the year's third month since 2003 (30).
Ashland's first road GLIAC games of 2019 on Sunday (March 31) at noon, a doubleheader vs. Saginaw Valley State (8-8, 1-3).
"We've had a couple opportunities to sweep at home, so now we have to go sweep on the road, which is always tough," said Knerem. "I think they're ready, and we'll continue to work on attacking our opponents no matter where they are."