Looking for a spot in the NCAA Division II postseason, as well as positioning for the 2019 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament, Ashland University's softball team swept its doubleheader on Tuesday (April 23) vs. Parkside at Brookside Park, 9-1 in six innings and 7-0.
The Eagles, winners of six of their last seven games and now third in the GLIAC standings, improve to 31-19 overall and 16-12 in the GLIAC. Ashland's 31 victories mark the program's best single-season total since 2015 (39).
"We're playing well right now," said Ashland head coach Emlyn Knerem. "Defensively, we're playing really well, and our pitching has been showing up really well in our last couple doubleheaders, so things are looking really good for us right now."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
- Parkside (7-41, 4-22) jumped on top in the first half-inning of Game 1 when Kellie Fenza came around from second base to score on a sacrifice bunt.
- Junior designated player Dayna Denner hit an opposite-field laser of a three-run home run, her 10th of the season, in the bottom of the third to give the Eagles their first lead at 3-1. Ashland added a fourth run in the third when senior third baseman Paige Summers came around from first on a fielder's choice and Parkside's second error of the opener.
- The Eagles ended Game 1 early thanks to a five-spot in the bottom of the sixth, highlighted by a two-run double from sophomore catcher Emma Lawson.
- Denner put AU in the lead in the bottom of the first in Game 2, pushing a two-out RBI single into right field. Senior right fielder Halle Dorko followed with an RBI triple to make it an early 2-0 advantage.
- Ashland scored single runs in innings 3-7 for the final margin of victory in the nightcap.
- After the doubledip, a new tradition was started, as the Eagles' nine seniors had a final catch as home collegiate players with their fathers.
"Since our Senior Day is not going to be at Brookside, we decided to take this day so our senior dads could play catch with their daughters one more time," Knerem said.
Senior pitcher Hannah Stroe said, "We had no idea that was happening. It's really nice, because we all started with our dads."
- In Game 2, Denner was 2-for-3 with four RBIs, Lawson was 2-for-3 with a double, two runs and two RBIs, and Summers and sophomore left fielder Alli Hylton each had two of AU's 14 hits.
- Sophomore pitcher Laney Jones (14-9) twirled a complete-game two-hitter, allowing one run and one walk and striking out nine in six innings.
- Denner drove in two more runs in the second game, giving her 46 RBIs in 2019, tied for fourth-most in program history.
"She had a good day. She may be a little more disappointed than what we are. Dayna's a perfectionist," Knerem said. "She's doing her job, and putting the ball in play when we need her to."
"We're getting hot, and we're getting ready to go into the GLIAC Tournament," Denner said. "With those regional rankings coming out, it got us all excited. It's a huge goal for us (to get into the NCAA tournament)."
- Senior first baseman Kylie Asmus also drove in two runs, and Dorko was 2-for-3.
- For the fourth time in five days, Stroe (15-10) was a winner, authoring a complete-game one-hit shutout. Stroe struck out five and walked one, and in her last four outings, is 4-0 with a 0.75 earned-run average.
"Prior to this, I was having a couple confidence problems," Stroe said. "After that first win against Grand Valley, I feel like my confidence has been growing from there."
"She's been feeling good, she's been looking sharp, she's been hitting her spots," said Knerem. "She's been able to just keep hitters off-balance, and our defense has been playing well behind her."
- Ashland has made just eight errors in the last 11 games.
- The Eagles swept all four games from the Rangers this season by an aggregate score of 25-2.
A "home" doubleheader on Friday (April 26) at 3:30 p.m. vs. Davenport at Sports Force Park in Sandusky, Ohio.