Columbus, Ga. – Freshman right-hander Nicole Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) and the No. 9 seeded Saint Xavier University softball team had No. 2 seed Lubbock Christian University (Texas) shut down for the first five innings of Monday's NAIA Softball National Championship final site match-up at the South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus, Ga. Unfortunately for the Cougars, the sixth inning was a different story as the Lady Chaps strung together three hits and four runs, all with two outs, to pull ahead for good in a 4-2 loss to end the SXU season. Saint Xavier ends its most productive season in program history with a school-record 50 wins (50-9 overall), a host of school records, its highest postseason finish (7th overall) as well as the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) regular season and tournament titles and the NAIA National Championship Opening Round Portland site champion.
Nonnemacher held Lubbock Christian, the nation's fourth-best hitting team (.374), hitless heading into the game's decisive inning, but the Lady Chaps knocked out all four of their hits in the bottom of the sixth. Nonnemacher finished the game allowing four hits, four runs (three earned) and three walks with five strikeouts. She finishes the season with an impressive win-loss record of 24-5 and set the new program strikeouts record at 263 shattering the old mark of 173. The Cougars took a quick 2-0 lead in the second inning when sophomore centerfielder Shannon Lauret (Beach Park, Ill./Zion-Benton) led off with a walk and advanced to second on a passed ball. After two strikeouts were recorded by LCU junior starter Courtney McGee, sophomore first baseman Amanda Hainlen (Bloomington, Ill./Heartland CC/Bloomington) drove in Lauret on a single up the middle. An error by first base by the Lady Chaps gave junior right fielder Katie Houlihan (Tinley Park, Ill./Lincoln-Way North) the opportunity to bring home Hainlen on an RBI single to left field.
In the sixth, Lubbock Christian junior leadoff hitter Mallory Koschany knocked a single to second base to start the rally. She stole second before a pop up and strikeout. With two outs, senior first baseman Latainna Eltsosie knocked in Koschany with a double down the left field line. The next batter, senior designated player Stephanie Rendon, hit her seventh home run of the year over the wall in left field to give the Lady Chaps a 3-2 lead. Freshman right fielder Ashton Bell added an insurance run later in the inning reaching second on a double, moving to third on a wild pitch and scoring on a passed ball. McGee finished strong retiring the Cougars in the top of the seventh inning despite a two-out single by Houlihan. She went the distance in the circle to gain the win and stayed undefeated on the year moving to 19-0 with six strikeouts.
Saint Xavier ends its magical season with an overall record of 50-9. The Cougars entered Monday's game as one of the final eight teams in the NAIA and were the nation's best fielding team with a stellar fielding percentage of .981.