What could've been. For the Ferris State University softball team, just four more feet could have spelled victory but it wasn't meant to be as Ashland scored all five of its run in the first three innings en route to a 5-4 decision this Friday (May 6) afternoon in second-round play of the 2011 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Softball Tournament at Northwood University's Fisher Stadium in Midland, Mich.
Ferris State, which evens its overall record to 22-22 overall this season with the loss, will now face the Northwood Timberwolves this Saturday (May 7) in a 10 a.m. (EDT) elimination round encounter at Midland.
Trailing 5-3 in the top of the fourth inning, the Bulldogs just missed clearing the fence by two feet apiece in successive at bats by senior catcher Rachel Mueller (Milford/Santa Clairita, Calif. Valencia) and sophomore second baseman Lainee Clay (Wheelersburg, Ohio).
Ashland reached Ferris State sophomore pitcher Dana Bowler (Lockport, Ill.) for a pair of first-inning runs to claim a 2-0 lead after the initial frame. The Eagles tallied the game's first run on an infield error before Alyssa Kelley smacked a two-base hit into left center field for the second score. AU would go up 3-0 in the second inning on another RBI hit by Kelley, who singled up the middle off Bowler.
The big inning for Ferris State came in the top of third as the Bulldog pushed three runs across home plate on as many hits to go with an Eagles' error. Lainee Clay reached base on an one-out error and sophomore outfielder Morgan Kramerich (Crest Hill, Ill./Lockport) followed with a single to put two runners on. A sacrifice bunt by senior outfielder Colleen Roney (Wheaton, Ill./Glen Ellyn Glenbard South) advanced both runners up a base before junior third baseman Makenzi Peterson (Big Rapids) belted an offering by Ashland hurler Emlyn Knerem to left center for a two-RBI double. Junior first baseman Chelsea Morris (Jenison) proceeded to drive in Peterson with a run-scoring single to left field.
With the game tied at 3-3, Ashland would break the deadlock in the bottom half of the third by scoring twice on a pair of base hits. With two outs and the bases loaded, Brianna Woody singled into left centerfield as junior leftfielder Stephanie Dusendang's (Comstock Park/Rockford) diving catch attempt came up short.
The Bulldogs picked up an earned run in the top of the fourth to draw within 5-4 as Lainee Clay's single to center field scored Rachel Mueller, who cracked a two-out double which hit off the top portion of the fence in left field. Both Clay and Mueller came within two feet apiece of getting an opportunity to round the bases.
Both pitchers, Ferris State's Dana Bowler (15-10) and Ashland's Emily Knerem (24-6), held the hitters in check for the remainder although an one-out double by Lainee Clay in the top of the seventh put the game-tying run on second. Unfortunately for FSU, Ashland enticed the final two outs as Morgan Kramerich filed out and Colleen Roney grounded out to Knerem to end the game.
Lainee Clay picked up a pair of hits to pace Ferris State, which matched Ashland's six team hits. Dana Bowler suffered the loss as she fanned two and walked three. Emily Knerem earned the win with eight strikeouts for Ashland, which is now 31-15 overall this campaign.