Softball - Thu, May 1, 2008
Bourbonnais, Ill. - A two-run homer by recently named 2008 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Softball Player of the Year Aly Kelley (Aurora, Ill./Waubonsie Valley) helped lift No. 3 seed Saint Xavier University to a 4-2 victory over No. 1 seed and No. 10 ranked Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) in the semifinals of the CCAC Tournament Thursday in Bourbonnais, Ill. The senior catcher hit the two-run blast in the top of the second to tie the game, 2-2, after the Tigers went ahead, 2-0, in the bottom of the first inning. The Cougars now advance to Friday's championship game at 2 p.m. in Bourbonnais, Ill., with an undefeated record (3-0) in the double-elimination tourney and will need to fall twice Friday in order to forfeit the title.

Two RBI singles in the bottom of the first inning gave ONU the early 2-0 lead. However, following a single by freshman first baseman Courtney Murphy (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) to open the second inning, Kelley crushed her two-run shot to deep left field tying the game, 2-2. The game remained tied at 2-2 until the top of the fifth when freshman centerfielder Amanda Rimkus (Edwardsville, Ill./Edwardsville) hit a RBI single with the bases loaded to bring home the go-ahead run. Freshman leftfielder Lisa Gryczewski (Mokena, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) got a RBI on a fielder's choice on the next at-bat to put her team ahead, 4-2.

Olivet left runners stranded at second base in both the fifth and sixth innings and then left the bases loaded when the third out was called in the bottom of the seventh to end the game. Sophomore righthander Jalyn Shearer (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) threw a gem for the Cougars on the mound pitching all seven innings and allowing just six hits, two runs (both unearned), and two walks with two strikeouts. Shearer improves to 15-6 overall with the victory.

Saint Xavier (26-17 overall/12-6 CCAC) advances to Friday's 2 p.m. championship game for a rematch against Olivet Nazarene, who defeated No. 2 seed University of St. Francis (Ill.), 7-1, in Thursday's final game. ONU will have to defeat the Cougars twice Friday to claim the tournament championship with the second game, if necessary, scheduled for 4 p.m.