Ashland University senior Emlyn Knerem (Brunswick, Ohio) has more K's than a vat of Campbell's alphabet soup.
Friday (Apr. 13) at Hillsdale, Knerem, the ace of the AU softball pitching staff, rang up 13 strikeouts in 8.1 innings of work. That gives her 1,001 strikeouts for her career. Knerem is the second pitcher in school history to break the 1,000-strikeout barrier. The program's all-time leader is Josie Nelson with 1,109 punchouts.
Knerem got the win in Friday's first game of a doubleheader, 13-4 over the Chargers. However, the Eagles stumbled in the nightcap, losing 5-1. AU is 31-11, 16-7 in GLIAC play. Looming just around the corner is a huge weekend. On Saturday (Apr. 14), AU plays two games at Grand Valley State. Ashland is ranked second in the region and GVSU is third. Sunday, the Eagles visit hard-hitting Ferris State.
This week has not started the way the Eagles envisioned. AU dropped two games on Tuesday at Wayne State and now comes the split at much-improved Hillsdale (19-16, 11-9 GLIAC). Knerem momentarily righted the ship in Friday's first game. She ran her record to 21-2 with a nifty three-hitter. Knerem walked one and struck out 10.
The Eagles gave her all the runs she would need by scoring five times in the second inning. All five runs came with two outs. The first big hit in the frame came from junior Kaely Stucin (Dover, Ohio). A week ago in a pinch-hitting appearance, Stucin slammed the first homer of her collegiate career. In this instance, called upon again as a pinch hitter, she singled to plate two runs.
Second baseman Cayla Seidler (Massillon, Ohio/Massillon Washington) followed that Stucin hit with a double to drive in two more runs. The final run in the inning scored on a single by freshman designated player Jerrica Young (Loudonville, Ohio). Young was 2-for-5 in the game and drove in four runs. She hit her team-leading seventh homer during a seven-run seventh inning. That was a three-run shot. Young has 28 RBI, second on the team behind Franki Gironda's (Akron, Ohio/Hoban) 30.
In addition to Young, Seidler, center fielder Taylor Menhart (Twinsburg, Ohio) and catcher Tawna Garver (Mansfield, Ohio/Hillsdale) had two hits each in the lid-lifter. Third baseman Alyssa Kelley (Mentor, Ohio) belted a double.
AU had 11 hits in the first game. The Eagles didn't fare as well in the second game against HC's Laura Homan, who went the distance and limited Ashland to seven hits. Homan (12-5) was careful not to give the Eagles any help – she didn't walk a batter.
The Chargers led, 1-0 after one inning and 3-0 going to the bottom of the fifth inning. AU's lone run came in that inning when outfielder Carly West's (Ashland, Ohio/Hillsdale) infield single brought home pinch runner Jamie Weber (Orient, Ohio/Teays Valley).
HC shortstop Kate Hoop was 3-for-4 with an RBI and center fielder Taylor Schulty was 2-for-4 and scored a pair of runs. Freshman Amber McDermott (Creston, Ohio/Norwayne) went five innings and took the loss. She allowed three runs on nine hits. Knerem went the final two innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits.
Right fielder Kourtney Yarnall (Canton, Ohio/Perry) was 2-for-2. Menhart drilled her ninth double of the season.