Columbus, Ga. – Freshman pitcher Nicole Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) went the distance to earn a complete game victory as No. 9 seed Saint Xavier University defeated No. 5 seed Cal. State-San Marcos (Calif.), 3-1, in an elimination game at the 2013 NAIA Softball National Championship final site at the South Commons Softball Complex on Saturday, May 25. For the first time in school history, SXU softball posted its 50th victory of season. The Cougars (50-8 overall) advances in the loser's bracket of the double-elimination event and plays No. 2 seed Lubbock Christian (Texas) in an elimination game Monday (May 27) at 9 a.m. central. Cal. State-San Marcos concludes the 2013 season with a record of 43-12 overall.
"It doesn't matter who we play (Monday) – we are grateful to be here," said Saint Xavier head coach Myra Minuskin. "We just beat the preseason No. 1 team. We already broke a school record in wins at 49, but 50 sounds good." Both teams had six hits on the day. Cal. State-San Marcos junior outfielder Kaitlin McGinley and senior third baseman Kate Mollohan (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) had two hits apiece. SXU managed to load the bases in the first inning and sophomore left fielder Holly Hilden (Belvidere, Ill./Belvidere North) stepped in and was hit by a pitch to force in the game's first run. In the top of the fourth with runners on second and third and no outs, a sharp grounder was hit to freshman Kasey Kanaga (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) that started a 425262 sequence and kept the game tied at one.
In the bottom of the fourth, sophomore first baseman Amanda Hainlen (Bloomington, Ill./Heartland CC/Bloomington) led off the inning with a double into the left field corner. Freshman Denise Anderson (Arvado, Colo./Ralston Valley) entered the game as a pinch runner and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Megan James (Oak Forest, Ill./Marist). Junior Katie Houlihan (Tinley Park, Ill./Lincoln-Way North) stepped into a bunted ball that was fielded cleanly, but en errant throw down the right field line allowed Anderson to score, while Houlihan advanced all the way to third. Nonnemacher then bunted the ball in play and Houlihan beat the throw home for a 3-1 lead. The two runs in the fourth inning were enough for Nonnemacher as she did not allow a walk and all six hits were for singles. Her three strikeouts pushed her school-record total to 258 on the season and improved her season win-loss record to 24-4.
"She was great," said Minuskin. "She has pitched the second game of the doubleheader almost all year long. I have so much confidence in her; she doesn't play like a freshman. If I could put the mentality that Nicole has and put it in every single player, it would be unbelievable."
Saint Xavier (50-8 overall/19-1 CCAC) advances and plays No.2 seeded Lubbock Christian (Texas) at 9 a.m. central on Monday, May 27.