Bourbonnais, Ill. – A two-out RBI single to left centerfield in the bottom of the fifth inning by freshman second baseman Kasey Kanaga (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) proved to be the difference maker as the No. 11 ranked Saint Xavier University softball team overcame an early 4-0 deficit to capture a 5-4 victory over No. 15 ranked Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) in Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Softball Tournament action Friday afternoon at Tiger Field in Bourbonnais, Ill. With the win, the Cougars (45-5 overall) advance to Saturday's 3 p.m. championship game and will need to be defeated twice by whichever team emerges from the other side of the bracket. Freshman right-hander Nicole Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) pitched 5.1 innings of relief and earned the win (22-3) on the mound allowing just two hits, no runs and no walks with five strikeouts.
SXU got a ton of production out of the bottom third of its line-up Friday with senior shortstop Ashley Sullivan (Lemont, Ill./UW-Parkside/Lemont), sophomore centerfielder Shannon Lauret (Beach Park, Ill./Zion-Benton) and Kanaga combining for seven of the team's 11 hits and four of the five runs. Lauret led the way going a perfect 3-for-3 with a double and two runs scored. ONU went ahead early taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning off a RBI double down the left field line by junior second baseman Hannah Gardner. The Tigers got three more runs in the top of the second off Saint Xavier starter, junior right-hander Megan Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community), with all coming off RBI hits, including a double by left fielder Jordyn Truelock.
Trailing 4-0, the Cougars regrouped and took advantage of a pair of infield fielding errors by Olivet Nazarene in the bottom of the second to help plate three runs. Sophomore catcher Megan James (Oak Forest, Ill./Marist) got the lone RBI hit in the frame with a two-out RBI single to right field. Nicole Nonnemacher put the Tigers down in order in the top of the third and SXU tied the game, 4-4, in the bottom of the third when Sullivan scored from third base on a wild pitch. After a scoreless fourth inning, Olivet Nazarene left two runners stranded in the top of the fifth, but Kanaga came up with her huge two-out single to drive home the go-ahead run in the bottom half of the frame. Nicole Nonnemacher did the rest putting down six of the next seven ONU batters she faced with the only one reaching base on a hit by pitch. Two of her five strikeouts on the day came in the final two innings.
Saint Xavier (45-5 overall/19-1 CCAC) needs just one win Saturday to garner the 2013 CCAC Softball Tournament title. The championship game is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Tiger Field and the No. 1 seeded Cougars will face the winner of tomorrow's 1 p.m. match-up between No. 6 seed University of St. Francis (Ill.) and No. 2 seed Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.). If necessary, a second championship game would take place at 5 p.m. Saturday.