Elgin, Ill. – Showcasing the impressive play that has carried the team throughout the season, the No. 11 ranked Saint Xavier University softball team captured the 2013 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) regular season title Thursday evening with a doubleheader sweep of Judson University (Ill.) in Elgin, Ill. The Cougars won both games Thursday in dominant fashion taking the first one, 13-4, in five innings and pulled away for a 10-2 victory in the nightcap. SXU finishes its conference slate with a 19-1 mark and improves to 40-4 overall with the Judson sweep. With the conference regular season title, Saint Xavier also secures one of the league's two automatic bids to the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round, which begins on Monday, May 13.
Freshman right-hander Nicole Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) was tough offensively in Thursday's opener going 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and two RBI. Her sister, junior right-hander Megan Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community), was just as tough on the mound picking up her 21st victory of the season (21-1) allowing seven hits, four runs (all earned) and three walks with eight strikeouts over her five innings of work. Saint Xavier went ahead, 2-0, in the top of the first inning behind a RBI single by senior third baseman Kate Mollohan (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) and a RBI double by junior designated hitter Ariel Hinton (Crawfordsville, Ind./Crawfordsville). The Cougars added another run in the second with senior shortstop Ashley Sullivan (Lemont, Ill./UW-Parkside/Lemont) scoring from third base off a wild pitch. Judson got a solo homer in the bottom of the third, but SXU answered right back with three more runs in the top of the fourth off RBI singles by Nicole Nonnemacher, sophomore catcher Megan James (Oak Forest, Ill./Marist) and Mollohan. Even though the Eagles scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame, Saint Xavier put the game away in the top of the fifth with seven runs highlighted by a two-run homer to left field by sophomore first baseman Amanda Hainlen (Bloomington, Ill./Heartland CC/Bloomington).
The second game got off to a slow start offensively, but Saint Xavier struck first in the top of the third going ahead 1-0 on a RBI single by Hainlen. A grand slam by Nicole Nonnemacher in the fourth inning extended the lead to 5-0 and helped her own cause on the mound. She earned the victory on the mound as well improving to 19-3 on the year giving up just five hits, two runs (both earned) and two walks with 14 strikeouts over all seven frames. SXU continued to add to its run total in the fifth with sophomore left fielder Holly Hilden (Belvidere, Ill./Belvidere North) notching a RBI single and Sullivan recording a sacrifice fly to make the score, 7-0. JU added a run in the fifth and sixth innings, but the Cougars continued to pour on the offense getting a two-run single by Mollohan in the sixth and a RBI double by freshman second baseman Kasey Kanaga (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) in the seventh. Nicole Nonnemacher also became the first pitcher in the history of SXU softball to reach 200 strikeouts in a season (213).
Saint Xavier (40-4 overall/16-0 CCAC) wraps up its regular season this weekend with four road games in Iowa. The Cougars play a doubleheader against Grand View University (Iowa) on Saturday, April 27, starting at 10 a.m. SXU wraps up the weekend and regular season on Sunday, April 28, with two against William Penn University (Iowa) also at 10 a.m.