Clermont, Fla. – Opening the new season with its best start in at least 20 years at 8-0 overall, the No. 5 Saint Xavier University softball team continued its strong play winning four more games Sunday and Monday at the National Training Center (NTC) Spring Games in Clermont, Fla. The impressive pitching staff of senior Megan Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community), sophomore Nicole Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) and freshman Callie Brown (West Des Moines, Iowa/Valley) has spearheaded the historic start. Junior left fielder Katie Sears (Chicago, Ill./Evansville/Mother McAuley) played well offensively over SXU's last four games going a combined 5-for-13 with two runs scored, two stolen bases and two RBI.
In its 4-3 victory in the opener Sunday against Ave Maria (Fla.), the Cougars jumped out to a 4-0 lead after four innings of play, but Ave Maria made things interesting by scoring three runs in the top of the fifth. Saint Xavier got its first two runs off a two-run single to right field by Sears in the bottom of the second inning. SXU tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fourth when junior catcher Megan James (Oak Forest, Ill./Marist) hit a two-run single to left field. Three hits and an error helped plate Ave Maria's three runs in the fifth, but Nicole Nonnemacher came in to relief Brown and picked up her first save of the year. Brown earned the win (1-0) throwing five innings and allowing five hits, three runs (two earned) and a walk with three strikeouts. Nicole Nonnemacher threw the final two frames and gave up just one hit with three strikeouts.
The Saint Xavier offense came out in full force in Sunday's late game, a 9-0 victory over NCAA Division II Alderson-Broaddus College (W.V.) in five innings. Junior first baseman Amanda Hainlen (Bloomington, Ill./Heartland CC/Bloomington) led the charge with a single, a run scored and two RBI. Sophomore second baseman Kasey Kanaga (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) also scored a run and recorded a pair of RBI in the game. SXU scored one run in the top of the third and then added eight more in the top of the fourth to help shorten the game. Megan Nonnemacher improved to 3-0 throwing all five innings and allowing three hits and no walks with five strikeouts toward the shutout.
Megan Nonnemacher continued her strong pitching into Monday's first game, a 3-2 win over Spring Arbor University (Mich.). She threw the first five innings and gave up just seven hits, two runs (both earned) and two walks with four strikeouts to move her record to 4-0. Brown pitched the sixth inning and allowed a hit, while Nicole Nonnemacher notched her second save in the seventh allowing one hit and striking out a pair. Nicole and senior right fielder Katie Houlihan (Tinley Park, Ill./Lincoln-Way North) each tallied two hits for SXU in the victory. Houlihan, Sears and junior centerfielder Shannon Lauret (Beach Park, Ill./Zion-Benton) combined for the three runs in the game.
A no-hitter for Nicole Nonnemacher highlighted the final game Monday against Lourdes University (Ohio), a 1-0 win for the Cougars. She racked up 15 strikeouts in the game and had just one batter reach base on an error in the top of the seventh. Lauret and Hainlen each posted two hits in the game, while sophomore pitch runner Denise Anderson (Arvada, Colo./Ralston Valley) scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth off a sacrifice fly by Kanaga.
Saint Xavier (8-0 overall) takes Tuesday off before returning to action on Wednesday, March 12, with a 1 p.m. (eastern) game against Ave Maria and a 5 p.m. (eastern) game against Bloomfield College (N.J.). The Cougars play eight more games on the trip from Wednesday until Saturday, March 15.