Bourbonnais, Ill. – After losing the 3 p.m. championship game Saturday to No. 2 seed and No. 15 ranked Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) by a score of 6-1, the No. 11 ranked and No. 1 seeded Saint Xavier University softball team bounced back in the 5 p.m. game erasing a 3-0 deficit to claim the 2013 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Softball Tournament championship with a 4-3 victory over the host Tigers at Tiger Field in Bourbonnais, Ill. It is the first conference tournament crown for the Cougars (46-6 overall) since 2009. Freshman second baseman Kasey Kanaga (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) came up with the clutch hit in the top of the sixth inning of the second game with a RBI single up the middle to put SXU up, 4-3. Junior right-hander Megan Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) recorded the victory (24-2) on the mound Saturday throwing all seven frames of the late game and allowing 10 hits, three runs (all earned) and a walk with five strikeouts.
The Cougars could not get their offense clicking in Saturday's first championship game with the team limited to just four hits. Kanaga had half of them going 2-for-3 with a double, while sophomore centerfielder Shannon Lauret (Beach Park, Ill./Zion-Benton) provided SXU's lone RBI on a single to centerfield in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately, Olivet Nazarene never trailed in the game going up 2-0 in the top of the first inning and adding four more runs (two in the fifth, two in the seventh) the rest of the way. Freshman right-hander Nicole Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) suffered the loss (22-4) for Saint Xavier throwing all seven innings and giving up eight hits, six runs (all earned) and three walks with seven strikeouts. Her seven strikeouts Saturday moved her season total to 250 extending her single season record at SXU in the category.
Things did not look promising in the early goings of the late game as the Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a two-run double to the gap in right centerfield by freshman designated hitter Katie Megyesi. With the Cougars only generating two singles over the first four frames, ONU extended its lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth with a RBI single by senior centerfielder Bethany Holoway. However, with two outs in the top of the fifth, Saint Xavier showed why it is one of the top NAIA teams in the country with sophomore designated hitter Sarah Saunders (Burbank, Ill./Reavis) drawing a bases-loaded walk and sophomore left fielder Holly Hilden (Belvidere, Ill./Belvidere North) coming up with a huge two-run single up the middle to tie the game, 3-3. Kanaga carried the momentum into the sixth when she drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out single as well. Megan Nonnemacher finished things off putting the Tigers down in order in the sixth and giving up just one hit, a single, in the seventh. Following the game, Kanaga was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player (MVP), while Megan Nonnemacher, Hilden, Lauret, senior third baseman Kate Mollohan (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) and senior shortstop Ashley Sullivan (Lemont, Ill./UW-Parkside/Lemont) earned spots on the all-tournament team.
Saint Xavier (46-6 overall/19-1 CCAC) now awaits its seeding, pairing and site for the 2013 NAIA Softball Opening Round, which begins on Monday, May 13. SXU will be one of the 40 teams competing in Opening Round action, which consists of four teams playing at one of 10 sites around the country. The 10 winners from each of the sites make up the 2013 NAIA Softball National Championship in Columbus, Ga., from May 24-30.