By Zach James Herald Assistant Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — After playing over a dozen games on greener fields in warmer weather, the Ashford softball squad played its first two games at home Saturday at River Queen Field against the Clarke Crusaders.
The Saints won Game 1 12-1 but dropped Game 2 in 4-3 fashion. Britnee Dobbs had four RBIs between the two games.
Ashford picked up its 10th win in the blowout while dropping back below .500 (10-11) after losing Game 2.
Saints win opener
The Saints put up six runs in the third inning after posting five runs in their first two innings at home this season.
Clarke struck first in the opening half inning on a double-steal with runners on first and third. Sonia Colavita scored on the play.
Before Ashford's big rally in the third, Dobbs hit a two-run home run in the second inning after a Katelyn Hair walk. Taylor Ellestad scored on a Betsy Nauman throwing error, then a couple of plays later, second baseman Kalyn Ohlemeyer pitched in an RBI single that scored center fielder Alex Bitto.
"I use everything I take from this game and I use it for the next game," Dobbs said.
Ashford catcher Shelby Hobelman led off the third inning with a single, and from then on, the Saints tallied six more hits and forced a Clarke error for six runs. Ohlemeyer had the big hit in the inning by bringing in two runs on a single up the middle.
"I'll tell our kids that anytime we score six runs, we should win," Ashford coach Kevin Jannusch said. "Six in an inning is good; I think the kids feed off of each other, and when one gets a hit, it just becomes contagious.
"We were zoned in; we had a great batting practice yesterday," Jannusch said.
Allie Klasen singled to left field in the fourth inning that brought in Dobbs.
Saints starting pitcher Nicole Schmidt allowed just one hit to Clarke. Clarke went 1-for-16 at the plate, including 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. Schmidt struck out seven hitters and walked two.
Clarke earns split
Ashford was comfortable with playing at home for the first time this season. Maybe they got a little too comfortable after the first win Saturday afternoon.
Each team scored in the first inning — Clarke opened with a Colavita RBI single, while Ashford got its run on a Bitto bunt that snuck over the head of third baseman Rachel Arns.
Both teams left a runner on base in the second inning before the Crusaders opened up the scoreboard on a three-run rally in the third inning.
Clarke got three hits in the inning. Colavita started the rally with an RBI double. Nauman then brought another run in on a fielders choice, then Maiya Tallakson brought in Colavita on a single. Clarke left two runners on base in the inning, however.
Kendra Roth (5-6) was the starting pitcher for the Saints, and she threw the first three innings. Roth allowed four earned runs on eight hits. She faced 17 batters; Roth also walked two batters and struck out a pair of Crusaders.
Schmidt came in with no outs in the fourth inning and shut down Clarke for the remainder of the afternoon. Schmidt allowed four hits without a run while adding four strikeouts to her total.
"We couldn't get enough hits behind Kendra, and that was disappointing," Jannusch said. "I think that good teams play 14 good innings a day; we're in a position where we need to play 14 good innings a day to put ourselves in good enough position for the conference tournament."
Ashford had a rally in the sixth inning that cut its deficit from 4-1 to 4-3. Dobbs hit a double to the right-center gap that brought in two baserunners. Jannusch loves how Dobbs plays the game.
"Brittnee getting that hit was big for us; she's got ice in her veins," Jannusch said. "The situation doesn't bother her. She's great by example that way."
Jannusch had the opportunity to wave Hair all the way around from first base, but the fourth-year coach decided against it.
"In hindsight, I think we may have had a shot with the second baseman holding up there for a second," he said. "You don't want to take an out away from your team and all of a sudden, you have big sticks coming up. We weren't in the worst situation there, though."
Ashford returns home Wednesday against AIB.
ASHFORD 12, CLARKE 1
Clarke 100 00 — 1 1 2
Ashford 146 1X — 12 14 1
Lauren Akre (3 ip, 13 h, 11 r, 8 er, 3 bb, 1 so), Kasey Stenger (1 ip, 1 h, 1 r, 1 er, 2 bb, 7 so) and Kayla O'Brien. Nicole Schmidt (5 ip, 1 h, 1 r, 1 er, 2 bb, 7 so) and Shelby Hobelman. Mutliple hits — Ashford, Allie Klasen 2, Alex Bitto 2, Kalyn Ohlemeyer 2, Taylor Ellestad 2. HR — Ashford, Brittnee Dobbs. RBIs — Clarke, Tallakson; Ashford, Ohlemeyer 3, Dobbs 3, Klasen, Natalia Reynoso, Bitto, Nicole Interrante, Siera Spahiu.
CLARKE 4, ASHFORD 3
Clarke 103 000 0 — 4 12 1
Ashford 100 002 0 — 3 6 0
Jordan Albrecht (6 ip, 6 h, 3 r, 2 er, 4 bb, 5 so) Kasey Stenger (1 ip, 0 h, 0 r, 0 bb, 2 so) and Maribeth Vasquez. Nicole Roth (3 ip, 8 h, 4 r, 4 er, 2 bb, 2 so), Schmidt (4 ip, 4 h, 0 r, 0er, 0 bb, 4 so) and Hobelman. Mutiple hits — Clarke, Sonia Colavita 3, Kasey Stenger 3, Krista Fiorini 2, Tallakson 2; Ashford, Hobelman 2. 2B — Clarke, Colavita, Fiorini; Ashford, Hobelman 2, Dobbs. RBIs — Clarke, Colavita 2, Nauman, Tallakson; Ashford, Dobbs 2, Bitto.