Softball - Wed, May 2, 2007
CHICAGO - After finding out earlier in the day that she was both the reigning Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Softball Pitcher of the Week and a All-CCAC First Team selection, Saint Xavier University junior pitcher Nicolle Bartels (Chicago, Ill./Marian Catholic) went out and proved she deserved both distinctions Wednesday. Bartels threw a no-hitter and was one hit batsman away from a perfect game in leading the No. 2 seeded Cougars to a 4-0 win over No. 3 seed Robert Morris College (Ill.) in game four of the 2007 CCAC Softball Tournament at the SXU Softball Field in Chicago. With the victory, SXU advances to play No. 1 seed Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) Thursday at 2 p.m. at the SXU Softball Field with the winner moving on to Friday's championship.
After both pitchers cruised through the first three innings, Saint Xavier was finally able to find some holes in the Robert Morris defense when senior right fielder Nicole Barker (Chicago Heights, Ill./Marian Catholic) led off the bottom of the fourth with a single. A throwing error by RMC helped put runners at second and third and set the stage for senior shortstop and newly named 2007 CCAC Softball Player of the Year Samantha Lovato (Oak Forest, Ill./Eisenhower). Lovato hit a two-RBI double down the left field line and later scored in the inning on a sacrifice fly by senior left fielder Mary Kate Smith (Chicago, Ill./Maria). With a 3-0 lead, the Cougars added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when Smith recorded a RBI single to score Lovato from second. Smith finished the game 1-for-2 with two RBI, while Lovato went 1-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and two RBI.
In addition to Lovato and Bartels earning first team All-CCAC honors, Saint Xavier University also had Nicole Barker and senior centerfielder Marie Barker (Chicago Heights, Ill./Marian Catholic) represented as well. Both Lovato and Nicole Barker are two-time All-CCAC first team selections (2006 & 2007), while Marie Barker was named to the honorable mention team as a sophomore and junior. Bartels earned the first team all-conference recognition for the first time in her career.
Saint Xavier (27-12 overall/14-3 CCAC) continues tournament play on Thursday, May 3, with a match-up against No. 1 seed Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) at 2 p.m. The winner of Thursday's game between the Cougars and the Tigers advances directly to Friday's championship game and would need to be defeated twice in order to be eliminated in the double-elimination tournament.