Softball rolling with the punches

Mackenzie Pflum, Reporter

The Ashland University softball season can be described as a rollercoaster up to this point. With over half the season’s schedule completed, the Eagles sit at 6-17 overall and 0-10 in the GMAC.

The Eagles knew this season was going to be a challenge because they would only have one pitcher returning for the season. The challenge grew much bigger than anyone imagined when in a matter of a few games, three infielders were injured.

“We were [already] missing Hailey Krinn at second base, then Maddy Burdette got hurt,” head coach Emlyn Knerem said. “We’ve had to move people around and people are out of place and out of position. There’s obviously been inconsistency with our schedule which has also caused some problems.”

The inconsistency in the schedule is largely due to the weather and whether the field is in playing condition on game day. Currently, the team has played no home games that were scheduled on the original date.

“When we are having weather issues, it’s home games,” senior center fielder Jamie Rutherford said. “So, we are losing that home field advantage.”

The team must have all the games made up before May 1. Because of this, the team will most likely not be able to make up the games against Ferris State and Wayne State, since they are non-conference teams.

The season is far from over, and despite the first half of the season not going the way they imagined, the team continues to remain positive and competitive.

“We are, at this point, playing for each other and playing for Josie [Duncan],” Rutherford said. “We are making things happen with what we can control.”

Duncan is the team’s only returning pitcher. She has pitched in over 20 games this season.

“Josie has been a rockstar, honestly,” Knerem said. “It’s not showing in our record, but it is impressive to be one pitcher and to take on 90 percent of the collegiate season. She is taking a huge weight on, and she’s doing a great job.”

Duncan was left as the only pitcher for the season after the team had one transfer out, one that suffered an injury that required surgery, and another who was ineligible once season started.

“Coach called a little bit earlier in the year to let me know the situation I was going to be in,” Duncan said. “She said, ‘I want you to wrap your head around it first so you can get a better idea mentally what you’re going to be going into.’”

Duncan knew this was going to be a big role she was going to have to take on, but was accepting of what she had to do for the team.

“It’s not an ‘I’ game,” Duncan said. “It’s time to play for everyone behind you. It’s time to step up into the role I was given. I need to be the best for them and not let them down. When I’m on the mound I want to be confident and hold myself in a way that they feel confident behind me too.”

Regardless of how the team has fared up until this mid-season point, one thing that has stayed consistent through and through is the team’s bond with each other.

“I’ve been making memories with my team this season that I wouldn’t trade for the world,” Rutherford said. “Those will last longer than any record in softball.”