CHICAGO – Enjoying the uncharacteristically warm mid-March weather around the area, the No. 24 ranked Saint Xavier University softball team scored early and often in a doubleheader sweep of Clarke University (Iowa) in non-conference action Saturday afternoon at the SXU Softball Field in Chicago. The Cougars (11-6 overall) scored four runs in the first three innings of game one to pick up a 4-1 victory and then scored nine runs in the first four frames of game two to earn a 9-0 win in five innings. SXU got two exceptional pitching performances from senior Amie Brown (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) and sophomore Megan Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) with the pair combining to allow just six total hits and one run as well as racking up 14 strikeouts.
Brown threw all seven innings of Saturday's opener giving up just four hits, a run (earned) and a walk with 10 strikeouts to improve to 4-2 overall this season. Senior shortstop Ashley Hunter (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) went a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate for Saint Xavier and logged RBI singles in both the first and third innings to lead the offensive charge. Freshman left fielder Megan James (Oak Forest, Ill./Marist) also had a hot bat for the Cougars in the first game going 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored. Nonnemacher kept the Crusaders' bats in check throughout the second game limiting them to just two hits, no runs and a walk with four strikeouts for her fourth shutout of the season. She improves her win-loss record to 6-3 this year with the victory. Freshman second baseman Holly Hilden (Belvidere, Ill./Belvidere North) had a monster game offensively going 2-for-3 with a double, a home run, two runs scored and five RBI. The Cougars were aggressive on the base paths throughout the day recording a combined eight stolen bases, including five by sophomore right fielder Katie Houlihan (Tinley Park, Ill./Lincoln-Way North).
Saint Xavier (11-6 overall) opens up Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) play on Thursday, March 22, with a home doubleheader against University of St. Francis (Ill.). The first game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. start at SXU Softball Field.