CHICAGO - It was a day of ups and downs for the No. 1 seeded Saint Xavier University softball team Friday at SXU Softball Field in Chicago. Starting the day in the winner's bracket of the 2011 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Softball Tournament, the No. 17 ranked Cougars lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to No. 2 seed Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) in the 2 p.m. match-up. SXU did not have much time to dwell on the loss facing off against No. 4 seed University of St. Francis (Ill.) in a 4 p.m. elimination game. The day ended on a high note though with Saint Xavier capturing a thrilling 2-1 victory in 13 innings to advance to Saturday's tournament championship game against Olivet Nazarene.
In the loss to the Tigers, SXU freshman Megan Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) threw another gem for the Cougars going all seven innings and allowing just five hits, a run (earned) and a walk with 10 strikeouts. It was the first run she has allowed in her last six starts dating back to April 14. Nonnemacher fell to 17-5 overall with the tough loss. Saint Xavier was limited to just five total hits in the game led by two apiece from senior center fielder Megan Paradzinski (Munster, Ind./Munster) and sophomore designated player Jamie Reed (Lincoln, Neb./Saint Pius X). ONU scored the game's lone run in the top of the sixth inning off a sacrifice fly by junior third baseman Molly Anderson.
In the marathon elimination game against St. Francis, SXU struck first with a RBI groundout by Reed in the bottom of the fourth to put her team ahead, 1-0. A wild pitch with a USF runner on third base tied the game, 1-1, in the top of the fifth. Neither team could spark much offense over the next five innings with both teams combining for just four hits, all singles. In the 12th inning, both teams had runners at third base with one out, but neither could get the run across and the game went another frame. St. Francis would put a runner at second base with one out in the top of the 13th inning before recording its final two outs. In the bottom of the frame, the Cougars got a lead-off single by freshman right fielder Ariel Hinton (Crawsfordsville, Ind./Crawsfordsville). The hit would prove key to the win as Hinton would eventually get to third base and score the game-winning run off a sacrifice fly by senior catcher Amy Kennedy (Pontiac, Ill./Pontiac). Nonnemacher would get the victory (18-5) in relief of junior starter Amie Brown (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic). Nonnemacher threw 8.1 innings of relief and gave up just five hits, no runs and no walks with a pair of strikeouts.
Saint Xavier (34-15 overall/14-4 CCAC) wraps up the tournament on Saturday facing No. 2 seed Olivet Nazarene in the championship game at noon at SXU Softball Field. SXU will have to defeat ONU twice Saturday to claim the tournament championship.