Bourbonnais, Ill. – Battling it out Thursday afternoon to determine which team would win the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) softball regular season crown, the match-up between No. 9 ranked Saint Xavier University and No. 4 Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) lived up to its billing. The Cougars dropped the opener by a score of 5-2, but played tough in the second game and went extra innings with the Tigers tied 2-2 before the game was called due to darkness. The tie was the first for SXU this season and it ended a NAIA-leading 43-game win streak for ONU. Olivet Nazarene takes the regular season title and No. 1 seed in next week's CCAC Softball Tournament at Saint Xavier with the game one victory. The loss also ended SXU's program-best 21-game win streak.
The Tigers struck first in the opening game Thursday scoring a run on a RBI double by junior first baseman Erika Tatum in the bottom of the first inning. A three-run homer by ONU sophomore left fielder Lindsey Krippel in the second inning put the hosts ahead, 4-0. A RBI single by junior left fielder Katie Sears (Chicago, Ill./Evansville/Mother McAuley) and a sacrifice fly by sophomore pitcher Nicole Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) plated two runs for the Cougars in the top of the sixth, but Olivet pushed another run across in the bottom of the frame to make it, 5-2. SXU put a runner on first following an ONU error in the top of the seventh, but the next three batters went down to end the game. Senior pitcher Megan Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) suffered the loss (18-2) throwing all six innings and allowing seven hits, five runs (all earned) and a walk with nine strikeouts. SXU managed just three total hits in the game.
Thursday's second game proved to be quite a battle. After three scoreless innings, Nicole Nonnemacher hit a one-out double to centerfield and junior first baseman Amanda Hainlen (Bloomington, Ill./Heartland CC/Bloomington) crushed a two-run homer in the next at-bat to put Saint Xavier up 2-0 in the top of the fourth inning. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Krippel came up big again for the Tigers with a two-run shot of her own to tie the game. The Cougars had a good chance to go back ahead in the top of the seventh with the bases loaded and one out, but Olivet turned a double play to end the frame. SXU got out of jams in both the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings with ONU leaving runners stranded at first and second. The game was called following the eighth inning due to darkness and ended in a 2-2 tie. Nicole Nonnemacher went all eight innings for SXU and gave up just seven hits, two runs (both earned) and three walks with 10 strikeouts.
Saint Xavier (37-4-1 overall/17-2-1 CCAC) heads to Hammond, Ind., for a non-conference doubleheader with Purdue-Calumet (Ind.) on Friday, April 25. The first game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. start.