CHICAGO – Scoring two runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, No. 4 ranked and No. 1 seeded Olivet Nazarene University rallied to beat No. 8 ranked and No. 2 seeded Saint Xavier University softball team by a 3-2 score in the winner's bracket of 2014 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Softball Tournament Saturday afternoon at SXU Softball Field in Chicago. The Cougars (44-6-1 overall) took care of business in the late game though defeating No. 3 seed University of St. Francis (Ill.), 9-1, in five innings to advance to Sunday's championship game and a rematch against the top-seeded Tigers. With the victory against the Fighting Saints Saturday evening, SXU also officially punched its ticket to the NAIA Opening Round Tournament since Olivet Nazarene has already earned the conference's other automatic bid to the national tournament by virtue of its regular season title.
The first game Saturday was a great pitching duel between Saint Xavier sophomore Nicole Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) and Olivet Nazarene junior Lindsay Stotler. The Tigers scored first with a run in the bottom of the third inning off an RBI single to left centerfield by junior centerfielder Jordyn Truelock. SXU tied the game, 1-1, in the top of the fifth when junior catcher Megan James (Oak Forest, Ill./Marist) drove home a run on an infield groundout. In the top of the sixth, the Cougars took a 2-1 lead when junior first baseman Amanda Hainlen (Bloomington, Ill./Heartland CC/Bloomington) hit an RBI single up the middle to score junior left fielder Katie Sears (Chicago, Ill./Evansville/Mother McAuley) from second base. With the Tigers down to their last strike, sophomore designated hitter Katie Megyesi won the game with a two-run single to centerfield. Nicole Nonnemacher suffered the loss (19-4) throwing all 6.2 innings and allowing nine hits, three runs (all earned) and two walks with four strikeouts.
After a scoreless first inning, the Saint Xavier bats got hot en route to 12 hits, including a pair of doubles, for the 9-1 victory over USF in five innings. Senior pitcher Megan Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) earned the win (22-2) going all five frames and giving up just five hits, a run (earned) and no walks with a strikeout. Nicole Nonnemacher hit well going 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI, while junior third baseman Sarah Saunders (Burbank, Ill./Reavis) posted three hits with two RBI. The Cougars got a two-run single by Nicole Nonnemacher in the bottom of the third to highlight a four-run frame and then got a two-run double to left centerfield by Hainlen to propel a three-run fourth inning.
Saint Xavier (44-6-1 overall/17-2-1 CCAC) hosts the CCAC Tournament championship game at SXU Softball Field against Olivet Nazarene. The game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start and the Cougars will need to beat the Tigers to claim the tournament crown. If necessary, the second championship game would start at 4 p.m.