Whiting, Ind. – A sacrifice fly to centerfield by freshman designated hitter Sarah Saunders (Burbank, Ill./Reavis) with one out in the bottom of the eighth gave the No. 2 seeded and No. 24 ranked Saint Xavier University softball team a thrilling 2-1 victory over No. 3 seed Robert Morris University (Ill.) in second round action of the 2012 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Softball Tournament Thursday afternoon at the Whiting Sports Complex in Whiting, Ind. Sophomore right-hander Megan Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) notched the win (18-7) for the Cougars going all eight innings and allowing just five hits, one run (earned) and no walks with five strikeouts. Following the game, six SXU players were named to the 2012 All-CCAC Softball Team with Nonnemacher highlighting the group by earning co-CCAC Pitcher of the Year recognition along with Olivet Nazarene senior Katie Hannigan.
In addition to Nonnemacher, senior right-hander Amie Brown (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) and senior shortstop Ashley Hunter (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) also earned first team honors on this year's all-conference squad. Junior third baseman Kate Mollohan (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew), sophomore first baseman Ariel Hinton (Crawfordsville, Ind./Crawfordsville) and freshman outfielder Shannon Lauret (Beach Park, Ill./Zion-Benton) garnered second team recognition for Saint Xavier.
The game proved to be a pitching duel between Nonnemacher and RMU junior Lauren Huber. Huber suffered the tough loss (10-9) for the Eagles going 7.2 innings and giving up seven hits, two runs (one earned) and two walks with five strikeouts. The Cougars struck first with a run in the bottom of the first on a RBI single with two outs by Hunter. Robert Morris tied the game, 1-1, when sophomore first baseman Madlyn Joyce crushed a shot to right field to open up the fourth inning. Both pitchers settled down over the next four innings with only three combined hits allowed following the homer and that forced the game into extra frames.
Nonnemacher put the Eagles down in order in the top of the eighth and SXU opened the bottom half of the frame with back-to-back singles by Hinton and Hunter. An infield error helped load the bases with no outs and RMU notched its first out of the inning at home plate on a fielder's choice. That set the stage for Saunders to be the hero as her sacrifice fly to centerfield was more than deep enough to score the game-winning run. Hunter and sophomore right fielder Katie Houlihan (Tinley Park, Ill./Lincoln-Way North) each finished with two hits to lead the Cougar offense.
Saint Xavier (36-14 overall/14-4 CCAC) advances in the tournament and takes on the winner of Thursday's late game between No. 1 seed and No. 10 ranked Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) and No. 5 seed University of St. Francis (Ill.). That game will start at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 4, at the Whiting Sports Complex in Whiting.