The Ashland University softball team was not able to hold onto an early lead against Saginaw Valley State, falling 10-6, then dropped its second game to Northwood, 9-7, as the Eagles were eliminated from the GLIAC Tournament on Friday (May 4) afternoon at Sports Force Parks in Sandusky, Ohio.
On a windy day on the shores of Lake Erie, the No. 6-seed Eagles (23-25) led No. 3-seed Saginaw Valley State (26-23), 6-0, after two innings in the first game.
Erika Farst led off the game with a walk and scored on a double by Camille Pallutro. A walk and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases and Halle Dorko followed with another walk to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead. Two batters later Cassie Haight ripped a two-run single through the box to double the lead to 4-0.
"We were really doing a good job of staying patient and making them throw pitches we could hit," said AU head coach Emlyn Knerem.
After the top of the third, the skies opened up into a downpour, inducing a half-hour delay. After the stoppage, AU starter Laney Jones gave up a couple hits, but kept SVSU off the board in the bottom of the third.
Things came unraveled in the fourth as the Cardinals sent 12 batters to the plate and scored seven runs off Jones and reliever Hannah Stroe to take a 7-6 lead.
The Cardinals tacked on three runs in the fifth, and the offense was not able to score off reliever Kasey Bagelmann (3-3), who tossed five shutout innings. She gave up five hits without a walk, striking out four.
"When that rain came in, I think we settled. We settled down and we got comfortable," Knerem said. "Unfortunately in our game, you can never be comfortable. You can't settle for enough runs. Saginaw is a good team and they fought back really well. I don't want to attribute it to the conditions. I thought it was a little bit of a lack of focus."
Haight led the Eagles with the first four-hit game of her career. Summers and Pollutro also had two hits.
Facing elimination, the Eagles fell behind No. 7-seed Northwood, 3-0, after three innings. Ashland got one back in the fourth on Summers' RBI triple.
The Timberwolves (25-22) broke the game open with six runs in the fifth to take a 9-1 lead.
Ashland needed at least a run in the bottom half to keep the game alive, but the Eagles responded with five runs on six hits. Six batters in a row reached at one point with RBI hits coming from Farst, Pollutro, Kylie Asmus and Gill.
"We had our backs against the wall and I thought we did a really great job being patient, finding holes and getting runners in to make a game out of it," Knerem said.
Ashland cut the deficit to 9-7 in the sixth on Asmus' RBI single, but stranded the tying run at first base. The Eagles put two runners on in the seventh, but could not score.
Pollutro was 4-for-4 in the game with Farst, Asmus and Gill adding two hits apiece. Every starter had a hit in the game and the top three hitters (Farst, Pollutro, Asmus) combined to go 8-for-12 with four RBI and five runs.
Paige McMenemy took the loss for the Eagles, while Northwood starter Makenzie Norton (9-7) earned the win. Abbi Srgo tossed 2 1/3 shutout relief innings to keep the Eagles in the game.