Clermont, Fla. - Paced by a strong performance by senior catcher Amy Kennedy (Pontiac, Ill./Pontiac), the Saint Xavier University softball team won four of the final six games of its annual Florida trip over the weekend and opened its 2011 season with an 8-4 overall record. Kennedy combined to go 7-for-20 (.350) at the plate over the six-game stretch and racked up five runs scored and seven RBI as well. The Cougars won a pair of games against NCAA Division III Ferrum College (Va.) in addition to picking up a victory against NCAA Division III Alma College (Mich.) and NCAA Division II Alderson-Broadus College (W.Va.).
After taking last Wednesday off for a midweek break in the trip, SXU returned to action on Thursday with a tough 6-4 victory over Ferrum that went 10 innings. A RBI apiece for Kennedy and senior first baseman Courtney Murphy (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) in the top of the 10th inning plated the game-tying and game-winning runs for the Cougars. Sophomore third baseman Kate Mollohan (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) had the hot bat for Saint Xavier going 3-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI. Freshman Megan Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) got the win (4-0) for SXU throwing all 10 frames and giving up seven hits, four runs (two earned) and three walks with 11 strikeouts. The Cougars completed the day with a 6-1 victory over Alma College. After Alma took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Saint Xavier scored six unanswered runs over the first five innings to log the win. Kennedy went a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored and two RBI to lead the offensive surge, while junior Amie Brown (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) added another victory to her pitching record (2-1). Brown threw all seven innings and allowed five hits, one run (unearned) and a walk with seven strikeouts.
Alma would get some revenge in Friday's first game defeating the Cougars, 10-6, after scoring eight runs in the bottom of the first. SXU would make a valiant effort to get back into the game, but could not overcome the large, early deficit. Brown showed off her skills with the bat going 4-for-4 with three RBI to lead the offense. However, she would not fare as well on the mound giving up 12 hits, 10 runs (five earned) and three walks with four strikeouts to drop to 2-2 on the year. Saint Xavier bounced back quickly and defeated Ferrum College again by a score of 4-2 in the late game. Mollohan posted two hits and a pair of RBI in the game. Junior Nicole Derezinski (St. John, Ind./Andrean) recorded the victory (1-1) throwing the first five innings and allowing seven hits, two runs (one earned) and a walk with three strikeouts. Nonnemacher came in to finish things off notching her first collegiate save and giving up just a hit and no runs with two strikeouts over the final two frames.
In the final day of their trip Saturday, the Cougars opened with a tough foe in NCAA Division II West Virginia Wesleyan College. The game was decided early as WVWC jumped out to a 5-1 lead and pulled away for the eventual 7-1 win. Junior shortstop Ashley Hunter (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) notched SXU's lone RBI in the game finishing 1-for-3 at the plate. Nonnemacher picked up her first loss of the year (4-1) throwing 6.2 innings and giving up seven hits, seven runs (five earned) and eight walks with a strikeout. The Cougars would end the trip on a high note though getting a thrilling 8-7 victory over Alderson-Broadus College in eight innings. After falling behind 7-6 in the top of the eighth, Kennedy and freshman left fielder Ariel Hinton (Crawfordsville, Ind./Crawfordsville) each posted a RBI single in the bottom of the frame to help pick up the big victory. Brown got the win (3-2) on the mound going all eight innings and allowing 11 hits, seven runs (six earned) and six walks with five strikeouts.
Saint Xavier (8-4 overall) has a full week off before continuing its season on the road with a doubleheader against Lindenwood University (Mo.) on Saturday, March 12. The first game of the twinbill is scheduled for 2 p.m.