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Softball senior girls

Megan Furby

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If you were to look at the roster for the 2018 Ashland University softball team, you would see that the team mostly consists of juniors and some freshman. For the most part, the team is made up of many returners and a few fresh faces ,however, two of those face stand out from the rest.

Sadie Cunningham and Paige McMenemy are the team’s two lone seniors that will be turning in their glove at the end of this season. A pitcher and catcher duo that have put a lot of hard work and effort into their time on the field.

Cunningham started softball when she was just five years old and started catching full time in high school. The game of softball taught Cunningham a love that started at a young age.

“Before coming to college to play, my career helped start my love for the game,” Cunningham said.

The pair started their collegiate career under the helm of Sheila Gulas and are finishing it under Emlyn Knerem. Cunningham said that the great game brought her a tremendous learning experience and has been a rewarding journey thus far.

“I have learned how to be a better teammate,” Cunningham said. “It is rewarding knowing all the year I have played before got me to this point. While here, I have learned how to be a better teammate.”

Cunningham’s plans after graduation is to apply for occupational therapy school and to watch her younger sister’s softball career blossom. Cunningham said she is looking forward to watching her experience all the things she was able too over the years.

Much like Cunningham, McMenemy’s softball career started when she was young as well. She started playing when she was just six years old and started pitching at eight. She played travel softball from age 10-18 and played across the country from coast to coast.

During McMenemy’s freshman year of high school, she pitched every other game and played in left field when she was not pitching. Starting her sophomore year, she was pitching almost every game for the entire game. She also received First Team All-Ohio during her junior and senior year and was also named as the Conference Player of the Year.

Before coming to Ashland, McMenemy committed to play softball at the University of Akron and played for two years as a Zip before transferring to Ashland the summer before her junior year.

“I love that I am part of a strong program with supportive alumni, coaches how have high expectations, a positive environment and overall a family atmosphere,” McMenemy said. “It can be challenging balancing such a busy schedule with school, practice, games, etc. but at the end of the day, it is very rewarding and I feel being a college athlete I have gotten to play the game I love and also learned many lessons that I will keep with me my whole life.”

McMenemy said that along with being able to play the game she loves, she loves being able to play it at a college level and has spent years working hard for the chance to experience it. Her appreciation for the program itself has also grown over the years.

“We are a very strong competitive program and our alumni are awesome and support us throughout the whole year,” McMenemy said. “Each player has an alumni mentor that we keep in contact with and they support us. Even our coach is an alumni so you know it is a great program when people stick around.”

Being a college athlete has also taught McMenemy skills that she will use off the field and outside the university. Skills such as time management, discipline, responsibility, working with others and having a strong ethic.

Her goals after graduation are simple, teach and give back by coaching. McMenemy is a middle grade Education major for math and science and plans on using what she has learned in the classroom and on the field to help others.

“I would love to begin coaching at the high school level as soon as next year and maybe eventually at the college level also,” McMenemy said. “I have been giving pitching and hitting lessons to kids age seven through sixteen since I was a junior in high school and it is something I love to do and do not plan on stopping anytime soon.”

McMenemy said that for the past four years she has been a head coach for a traveling team which brings along a year-round commitment. She said that she loves coaching and getting to take the younger kids through the same experiences she grew up with at the softball fields all summer.

McMenemy is able to coach alongside her teammate, Katie Mitchell, and her sister Megan, who plays softball at The Ohio State University. She also added that her third coach is her German Shepherd, Simba who loves to hang out at the fields with her.

Cunningham, McMenemy and the rest of the softball team are set to play again on Saturday April 14 with a double header against the Wayne State Warriors. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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