Softball - Fri, May 13, 2005
CHICAGO - The No. 23 ranked and No. 2 seeded Saint Xavier University softball team ended its season Friday dropping two games in the 2005 NAIA Region VII Softball Tournament at the SXU Softball Field in Chicago. The Cougars fell to No. 4 seed William Penn University (Iowa), 3-1, in game eight of the tourney and then dropped a heartbreaker to No. 1 seed Waldorf College (Iowa), 5-4, in game nine. Saint Xavier finishes up with an overall record of 41-19. Sophomore third baseman Samantha Lovato (Blue Island, Ill./Eisenhower) and sophomore rightfielder Nicole Barker (Chicago Heights, Ill./Marian Catholic) represented SXU on the 2005 Region VII All-Tournament Team, which was announced following the tournament Friday.

In Friday's first game between Saint Xavier and William Penn, the Statesmen were first on the scoreboard putting a run up in the top of the second inning on a one-out, RBI double by senior rightfielder Emily Gerdts. WPU tacked on two more runs in the fourth inning when Gerdts struck again sending a two-out, two-run homer over the wall in left field after an earlier fielding error by SXU kept the inning alive. The Cougars answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth when Lovato doubled to the gap in left-centerfield to score Barker from third.

With William Penn leading 3-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh, SXU designated hitter Nikki Brown (Rochelle, Ill./Rochelle) led off with a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Unfortunately, the next three Cougar hitters drew outs to end the ballgame. Junior righthander Jessica Wilson (Munster, Ind./Munster) took the loss on the mound for Saint Xavier pitching all seven innings and allowing six hits, three runs (one earned) and no walks with two strikeouts.

In SXU's second game of the day against Waldorf College, the Cougars scored the first four runs of the game with two runs in the bottom of the third and two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, respectively. Sophomore centerfielder Marie Barker (Chicago Heights, Ill./Marian Catholic) finished the game 1-for-3 with a triple, two runs scored and a RBI, while her sister Nicole was 2-for-4 with a run scored and a RBI. With two outs and no runners on base in the top of the seventh inning, Waldorf hit two singles and a double to cut the lead to three, 4-1, with runners at second and third. A walk loaded the bases and Waldorf's senior shortstop Lindsey Pleuss sent her first pitch over the wall in left-centerfield for a grand slam to give the Warriors the 5-4 advantage.

SXU went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning to end the game. Freshman rightie Nicolle Bartels (Chicago, Ill./Marian Catholic) took the loss for the Cougars pitching 6.2 innings and giving up seven hits, five runs, and two walks with no strikeouts. Waldorf recorded four of its seven hits in the game in the final inning, while Saint Xavier tallied five hits in the ballgame. William Penn went on to defeat Waldorf, 6-1, in the Region VII Championship Friday, which followed the SXU-Waldorf match-up.

Following the championship, William Penn University head coach Mike Christner was named the NAIA Region VII Coach of the Year. The 2005 Region VII All-Tournament Team also included: Grand View College's Ashley Kilby and Kathy Robinson; Olivet Nazarene University's Lauren Chessum and Lisa Bergmann; University of St. Francis' (Ill.) Jamie Redman; Waldorf College's Lindsey Pleuss, Sally Allen, and Abby Peterson; and William Penn University's Steph Christner, Emily Gerdts, Alisa Mann, Kristina McNew and Jill Carter.

No. 4 seed William Penn receives an automatic bid to the 2005 NAIA National Softball Championships in Decatur, Ala., beginning May 20. The Statesmen will bring a 50-19 overall record to the national tournament.