Softball - Wed, Mar. 12, 2008
Orlando, Fla. - Facing a grueling opening schedule against some of the best teams in NCAA Division II, the Saint Xavier University softball team proved it could hold its own as it opened its 2008 schedule at the Rebel Spring Games in Orlando, Fla., this week. The Cougars kicked off its stretch of Florida games on Sunday, March 9, with an 8-0 win against Southwest Minnesota State University and followed that with a 9-4 victory Monday afternoon against Northern Kentucky University. SXU dropped a tough 2-1 decision Sunday to No. 17 ranked (NCAA Division II) Minnesota State University-Mankato and fell 4-2 to No. 2 ranked (NCAA Division II) and defending national champion Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville Monday.

In its first win against SW Minnesota State, the Cougars got a huge game from sophomore second baseman Rebekah Ruettiger (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East). Ruettiger went a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with a double, three runs scored and a RBI. Freshman centerfielder Megan Paradzinski (Munster, Ind./Munster) also had a big first game going 2-for-3 with three runs scored, two stolen bases, and a RBI. SXU won the game in six innings due to the 8-0 advantage and scored at least a run in every inning, but the second. Sophomore Jalyn Shearer (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) got the shutout win on the mound throwing all six innings and allowing just two hits and two walks with five strikeouts.

Saint Xavier followed that game with a tough 2-1 loss to MSU-Mankato despite getting a game-tying RBI single in the fourth inning from senior rightfielder Holly Kennedy (Henry, Ill./University). Senior Ashley Shearer (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) took the loss for SXU, but pitched well allowing six hits, two earned runs, and three walks over six innings. She also tallied six strikeouts. SXU opened Monday with a heartbreaking loss to SIU-Edwardsville when the defending national champs broke a 2-2 tie with two runs in the top of the seventh inning to claim the win. Freshman first baseman Courtney Murphy (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) had the big hit of the game for the Cougars with a two-run homer in the bottom of the second inning. Jalyn Shearer got the loss throwing seven innings and allowing seven hits, four runs (two earned), and two walks with three strikeouts.

Paradzinski helped SXU bounce back with a 9-4 victory over Northern Kentucky Monday. She went 4-for-5 at the plate with a double, two runs scored, and two RBI. Freshman shortstop Brittany Hannigan (Palos Hills, Ill./Stagg) also played well for the Cougars going 2-for-3 with a triple, a run scored and three RBI. Senior Nicolle Bartels (Chicago, Ill./Marian Catholic) earned the win on the mound pitching seven innings and giving up 11 hits, four runs, and a walk with three strikeouts. Unfortunately, SXU could not carry that offensive momentum over to Tuesday's games with the team falling 5-0 to Central Missouri University and 4-0 to University of Indianapolis. The Cougars managed just five hits in each of the two losses Tuesday.

Saint Xavier (2-4 overall) takes Wednesday off before continuing its Spring Break slate on Thursday, March 13, with a pair of games. The Cougars face Ashland University (Ohio) at 11 a.m. and then take on East Shroudsburg University (Pa.) at 3 p.m. in Orlando.