Columbia, Ky. – An RBI single in the top of the sixth by sophomore second baseman Brittney Graves proved to be the difference as No. 10 ranked and No. 2 seeded Lindsey Wilson College (Ky.) punched its ticket to the 2014 NAIA Softball World Series with a 4-3 win over No. 8 ranked and top-seeded Saint Xavier University softball team Wednesday morning in the championship game of the 2014 NAIA Opening Round National Championships at Lindsey Wilson Park in Columbia, Ky. The Cougars end their impressive 2014 campaign with an overall record of 47-9-1. The game was a tight one throughout with both teams leading at different points. SXU finished with eight hits, but left 12 runners stranded on the bases.
Sophomore Nicole Nonnemacher (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) took the loss (21-6) throwing all seven innings and giving up five hits, four runs (all earned) and two walks with nine strikeouts. For the second straight game, junior Jordan Hood was the winning pitcher (24-3) going the first five frames and allowing seven hits, three runs (two earned) and four walks with six strikeouts. Freshman Casey Bryan closed out the game for the Blue Raiders earning the save behind two innings of work giving up just one hit and a walk with no strikeouts. Junior first baseman Amanda Hainlen (Bloomington, Ill./Heartland CC/Bloomington) kicked off the scoring for Saint Xavier with a two-out, RBI double down the right field line in the bottom of the first inning to give her team the 1-0 lead.
Lindsey Wilson responded in the top of the second when Hood helped her own cause by hitting a three-run double to deep left field to put the hosts on top, 3-1. Back-to-back singles by junior left fielder Katie Sears (Chicago, Ill./Evansville/Mother McAuley) and senior right fielder Katie Houlihan (Tinley Park, Ill./Lincoln-Way North) to open the bottom of the third inning paid dividends as freshman shortstop Savannah Kinsella (Munster, Ind./Andrean) came up with a clutch single up the middle that scored the pair and tied the game, 3-3. Unfortunately, the Cougars could not come up with the timely hit in the later frames and left eight runners stranded over the final four innings.
Saint Xavier had another impressive season finishing up at 47-9-1 overall and took second place in the final Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) standings with a mark of 17-2-1 behind only No. 4 ranked Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.). It is the second straight season the Cougars have qualified for the NAIA Opening Round Tournament.