PAINESVILLE, OHIO – The Lake Erie College softball team had the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's top team on the ropes, but some late inning heroics gave Ashland University a doubleheader sweep Wednesday afternoon (April 4) on Diamond 9 at Painesville Kiwanis Recreation Park.
The Eagles (28-6, 12-2 GLIAC), who are ranked 27th nationally, jumped out early and then held off a late rally to win the opener 4-2, then overcame a two-run deficit with a pair of seventh-inning home runs to win the nightcap 7-5. The Storm (5-24, 2-10 GLIAC) had chances in both games, including brining the tying run to the plate in their last at-bat in the first game and then led 5-3 with one out in the seventh in game two.
Franki Gironda hit a two-run home run in the first inning of the opener to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead. Sophomore Krista Haley (Holland, Ohio/Springfield Holland) cut the lead in half with a solo shot – her second home run of the year – in the second.
Three straight hits in the third push the Ashland advantage to 4-1. Lake Erie closed to within 4-2 on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Jennifer Gratz (Richwood, Ohio/North Union) in the sixth. Senior Haley Rathge (Edon, Ohio/Napoleon) singled and reached second in the seventh, but was stranded there as Emlyn Knerem kept the Storm off the board and remained undefeated on the season.
Knerem improved to 19-0, scattering seven hits in her seven innings. She struck out 11 and did not walk a batter. Gironda had two hits and scored twice for Ashland.
Sophomore Dawn Ondercin (Sheffield, Ohio/Brookside) allowed four runs on eight hits in seven innings for the Storm. Juliana Brotzman (Madison, Ohio/Madison) and Maddi Klemp (Akron, Ohio/Coventry) each had two hits.
In game two, Lake Erie scored a single run in each of the first three innings to build a 3-0 lead. Senior Megan Foley (Brunswick, Ohio/Brunswick) started the scoring with a solo home run in the first, Klemp singled in a run in the second and Foley scored on a throwing error in the third.
The Eagles broke through in their half of the fourth, scoring three times. After a Kourtney Yarnall sacrifice fly, Kaley Stucin doubled to tie the game at 3-3.
It stayed that way until the seventh. In the top half, Brotzman singled in a run – her fourth hit of the game – and senior Ali Heming (Cincinnati, Ohio/Turpin) followed with an RBI single of her own to give LEC a 5-3 lead.
Ondercin relieved redshirt freshman Amanda Anderson (Streetsboro, Ohio/Streetsboro) and surrendered a game-tying two-run home run to Jerrica Young, one pitch after the Storm was unable to make a play on a pop-up in foul territory. Then with two outs, Tawna Garver hit a walk-off two-run shot to give the Eagles their 11th win in 12 games and sole possession of first place in the overall GLIAC standings.
Brotzman went 4-for-4 to lead the Storm offense. In addition to the home run, Foley walked three times and scored twice. Anderson threw 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing just one hit. Starter Sam Ronde (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg) gave up two earned runs (three total) in 3 2/3 innings. Ondercin (3-12) took the loss, allowing four runs in 2/3 of an inning.
Amber McDermott (7-2) got the win for Ashland, going all seven innings. She allowed five runs (three earned) on nine hits with four walks and eight strikeouts. Three Eagles had two hits each in game two.
The Storm will look to get back in the win column this weekend when they open a four-game series at the University of Findlay starting Friday, April 6.