CHICAGO – Big home runs by sophomores Sarah Saunders (Burbank, Ill./Reavis) and Megan James (Oak Forest, Ill./Marist) as well as freshman Shannon Pedersen (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) helped propel the No. 18 ranked Saint Xavier University softball team to a doubleheader sweep of Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) foe Calumet College of St. Joseph (Ind.) Wednesday afternoon at the SXU Softball Field in Chicago. The Cougars won the first game, 4-3, and then scored some late runs in the second game to capture a 5-1 victory. With the pair of wins, SXU improves to 16-2 overall, the best start for the program under head coach Myra Minuskin who took over in 2000 and one of the hottest starts in the 34-year history of Saint Xavier softball.
Saunders got the Cougar offense off and running in Wednesday's opener when she sent a two-run shot over the wall in left centerfield in the bottom of the second inning. Sophomore left fielder Holly Hilden (Belvidere, Ill./Belvidere North) later stole home to add a third run in the frame and put SXU ahead, 3-0. An RBI single by freshman second baseman Kasey Kanaga (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) in the fourth completed the scoring for Saint Xavier. The Crimson Wave threatened in the top of the seventh scoring two runs on back-to-back RBI singles, but junior right-hander Megan Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) moved to 8-1 on the year by getting the final out of the game on a fielder's choice. She threw all seven innings and allowed eight hits, three runs (one earned) and a walk with eight strikeouts.
In the late game, CCSJ took an early 1-0 lead by walking in a run in the top of the second inning. However, James answered with a solo shot to centerfield to open the bottom of the fifth and tie the game, 1-1. Pedersen put the exclamation point on the game when she sent a towering three-run shot to right field to put SXU ahead, 5-1, with two outs in the sixth. Sophomore centerfielder Shannon Lauret (Beach Park, Ill./Zion-Benton) also had an RBI single off the top of the left field wall in the inning. Freshman righty Nicole Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) improved to 8-1 this season with Wednesday's victory. She went all seven innings and gave up seven hits, one run (earned) and four walks with five strikeouts.
Saint Xavier (16-2 overall/2-0 CCAC) takes a break from conference play to host Marian University (Ind.) for a NAIA doubleheader on Thursday, March 28. The first of the two-game set is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start at the SXU Softball Field.