Spring sports recap


Drew Windle holds up his first-place trophy at the NCAA Outdoor Championships this past spring. Windle took first place in the 800.

By Chris Bils

When all was said and done, 2012-13 was the greatest season in the history of Ashland University athletics. Women’s basketball brought home the first team national championship in school history. Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships were won in football, men’s track and field, women’s basketball and baseball. Of the 20 teams that competed for the purple and gold, 12 made it to the NCAA postseason.

In June, the Eagles were awarded third place in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup for the second year in a row. The only schools that finished ahead of them were Grand Canyon and Grand Valley State, which both have enrollments near 25,000. Grand Canyon will compete in Division I’s Western Athletic Conference starting this fall.

To accomplish this feat, Ashland needed points from its spring sports, most of which finished after regular students had already gone home. Women’s golf went all the way to the NCAA Championships in Daytona Beach, Fla. and finished 12th. Softball, baseball and men’s and women’s track and field also competed at the national level.

Track and field

On the men’s side, Jud Logan’s Eagles reached new heights in 2013. After dismantling the competition in the GLIAC Championships at home, they matched their national runner-up finish from the indoor season at the outdoor NCAA Championships in Pueblo, Colo.

“We were absolutely thrilled with the individual performances, but more importantly that we were able to do as a team what we set out to do,” Logan said.

Leading the charge were sophomore Drew Windle and senior Garrett Grey, who claimed national championships.

Windle ran the 800 meters in 1:48.52, claiming his second national championship of the year (he also won the 800 indoors) by more than half a second. Grey dominated the hammer throw competition by more than four meters when his final throw went 70.49 meters, farther than any other throw at any level of college competition in 2013.

“Anytime you have an upperclassman going in that’s got a chance to win the national title I think it takes pressure off the other kids,” Logan said.

Another standout performance came from Joe Horn, who earned four All-Americans in the 200 (fifth, 20.84 seconds), 100 (seventh, 10.49), 4×400 (third, 3:07.34) and 4×100 (sixth, 40.29). It was a story tale ending to Horn’s collegiate athletic career after he came back to Ashland after a year of pursuing a professional football career.

“When he came back, he was laying on the track throwing up on the side, totally out of shape,” Logan said. “Very fast, but no endurance, and we didn’t know if he was gonna be able to help us.”

Joining Horn on those relays were Cory Lamar, Keith Cleveland and Jacob Cook in the 4×400 and Eric Thompkins, DeAndre Davis and Jordan Hoppel in the 4×100. The night before in the prelims for the 4×400, Cleveland, Lamar, Cook and Elijha Owens broke the school record by running 3:05.85.

On the women’s side, Katie Nageotte also repeated her national championship from the indoor season in the pole vault. She cleared 4.40 meters on her first attempt to best Hillsdale’s Kayla Caldwell before turning pro this summer.

“She made the right decision,” Logan said. “She’s in a position now where she’s got that personality where a shoe company or a sponsor is going to want to help her out.”

Other All-Americans included Tom Scott (fourth in the 400), Brian Baum (sixth in the 1500), Cleveland (eighth in the 200), Jamie Sindelar (third in the shot put), Jessica Bridenthal (seventh in the shot put), Jennifer Foster (eighth in the high jump), Kyle Steinhauser (sixth in the discus), Kendra Bassitt (seventh in the hepthathlong), Zac Ball (fourth in the hammer) and Cynthia Watt (fourth in the hammer).


The baseball team also entered the NCAA postseason with momentum after capturing a GLIAC tournament crown. Following wins over Ohio Dominican (10-2) and Wayne State (5-2), the Eagles dropped down to the losers’ bracket with a 9-2 setback against Grand Valley State. They bounced back with a 7-5 victory over Ohio Dominican, setting up another matchup with Grand Valley later that day for the conference championship.

A 6-4 victory over the Lakers gave Ashland its first-ever GLIAC tournament championship.

“Anytime you do the first of something it’s a great feeling,” head coach John Schaly said.

The next week, it was on to the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional tournament in Springfield, Mo. In the first round, AU took on Bellarmine. Despite the momentum the Eagles had gained the week before and their top seed in the tournament, their pitching came undone in a 13-10 loss that put them in the losers’ bracket right out of the gate.

“It was not a good ballgame for us, which was tough because we had just played so well the week before,” Schaly said.

In the next round, Ashland took on host and No. 2 seed Drury. GLIAC pitcher of the year and first team all-region selection Jake Baldwin got the start for Ashland and pitched eight innings and gave up two runs on six hits.

In the top of the ninth with the game tied 2-2, shortstop Austin Walts singled up the middle and advanced to third on another base hit by pinch-hitter Stephen James. A sac fly by Wake Kaido scored Walts for the winning run to keep AU alive in the tournament.

“We got the big hit when we needed it and beat a really good team,” Schaly said.

If it was ninth-inning magic that kept Eagles’ season going for another day, it was ninth-inning disaster that ended it a day later. Lewis turned the tables on the Eagles when, down 4-3 in the top of the ninth with two outs, Lewis’s Jake Murray hit a fly ball up in the wind that sailed over the fence for what would be the game-winning home run.

“It was wind-blown,” Schaly said. “That was a heartbreaker. When the ball’s hit, we think we’ve won the ballgame. It’s a routine fly ball to left, and then it got up in the wind and just kept going.”

The two hits in the final inning were the only two Zach Botjer surrendered in three innings of work. It was a heartbreaking end to a successful season for Ashland baseball.

“This group kind of put Ashland back on the national map, which we hadn’t been for a couple years before that,” Schaly said.


Two wins to start the GLIAC tournament were enough to put Ashland softball through to the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight year. Head coach Sheila Gulas has built a winning program, so much so that the wins have been hard to keep track of.

After losses to Grand Valley State and Wayne State to finish the GLIAC tourney run, Ashland headed to Indianapolis looking to make some noise and get Gulas her 800th win. A 5-0 loss to Lewis in the first round meant Gulas Eagles would have to wait another day for the milestone, and another loss would push it to the next season. But instead of worrying about milestones, Gulas decided to make the day about her seniors.

It was graduation day, and the four seniors on the team (Kaely Stucin, Lindsey Hartmann, Franki Gironda and Tawna Garver) were unable to walk because they were in Indianapolis. Standing in their way for the fifth time in 2013 was Wayne State, who knocked the Eagles out of the GLIAC tournament less than a week earlier.

“It was kind of almost like something was lifted off their shoulders because they had another focus now and it wasn’t that we were playing Wayne State for the fifth time,” Gulas said.

Ashland came out hot and got a boost in the fourth inning when Garver and Kourtney Yarnall each blasted home runs as part of a six-run inning on the way to a 9-1.

There was not much time to celebrate, as the Eagles had to turn around and play Lewis the same day. The momentum carried over, and Amber McDermott pitched a shutout to help secure a 7-0 win and a spot alongside Indianapolis in the following day’s regional championship.

Jerrica Young started things off in the Lewis game with a leadoff home run and Gironda hit two runs home with a single in the third inning.

“We were just hot that day and it was a great day,” Gulas said. “We hit the ball a ton, we had outstanding pitching holding both of those teams to one run in two games. It was definitely the best that the team had played together all season.”

Ashland faced an uphill battle in the final, needing two wins over Indianapolis because they had advanced through the losers’ bracket. The Greyhounds didn’t give the Eagles a chance, shutting them down 10-0 to end a spectacular season.

At the end of the spring, everyone involved with Ashland athletics could feel proud about what they accomplished.

“One team feeds off the other,” Gulas said. “It’s a great athletic experience here at Ashland.”