Whiting, Ind. – Freshman second baseman Megan James (Oak Forest, Ill./Marist) finished with four hits on the day as the No. 2 seeded Saint Xavier University softball team split its two Friday games of the 2012 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Softball Tournament at the Whiting Sports Complex in Whiting, Ind. The Cougars dropped the first game to No. 1 seed and No. 10 ranked Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.), 5-2, and then defeated No. 5 seed University of St. Francis (Ill.), 6-2, Friday night to advance to Saturday's championship game. SXU faces ONU at noon Saturday for the tournament title, but needs to win twice to claim the crown since Olivet Nazarene has yet to lose in the double-elimination tourney.
Olivet took an early 2-0 lead in Saint Xavier's first game Friday behind a RBI single in the bottom of the first inning and a sacrifice bunt for a run in the bottom of the third. The Cougars tied the game, 2-2, in the top of the fourth when senior catcher Ashley Hunter (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) hit a two-RBI single to right field. Unfortunately for SXU, a three-RBI double to centerfield by freshman right fielder Erika Tatum in the bottom of the fifth proved to be the game-winning hit as SXU left two runners on base in both the sixth and seventh innings. Sophomore right-hander Megan Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) took the loss (18-8) on the mound going all six innings and allowing seven hits, five runs (all earned) and four walks with four strikeouts.
The Cougars got off to a hot start in the late game Friday against the Fighting Saints scoring three runs in the top of the first inning. Sophomore first baseman Ariel Hinton (Crawfordsville, Ind./Crawfordsville) and junior third baseman Kate Mollohan (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) each had a RBI single in the big frame, while junior shortstop Ashley Sullivan (Lemont, Ill./UW-Parkside/Lemont) brought a run home on a sacrifice fly. USF scored a run in the bottom of the first on a fielder's choice and another run in the bottom of the third on a groundout to make the score, 3-2. However, SXU scored a run in each of the next three frames to pull away for good. Senior righty Amie Brown (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) earned the victory (16-4) for the Cougars throwing all seven innings and giving up just three hits, two runs (both earned) and a walk with six strikeouts.
Saint Xavier (37-15 overall/14-4 CCAC) wraps up conference tournament play on Saturday, May 5, with a 12 p.m. game against No. 10 Olivet Nazarene for the tournament championship. Since the Tigers come into the game undefeated in postseason play, the Cougars need to beat the Tigers twice Saturday to claim the crown and the automatic bid to the NAIA Softball Championships that comes with it.