Softball - Mon, Mar. 7, 2005
Mobile, Ala. - The No. 14 ranked Saint Xavier University softball team played some of the nation's best NAIA competition in its season-opening games at the University of Mobile (Ala.) Gulf Coast Invitational over the weekend winning one its five match-ups in the event. The Cougars lost their first three pool play games on Friday, March 4, and Saturday, March 5, and then split their last two games in the silver bracket on Saturday and Sunday, March 6.

In its first game of the Invitational, SXU met up with No. 24 ranked St. Gregory's College (Okla.) and fell behind, 2-0, in the first inning off a two-out, two-run home run. St. Gregory's added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth inning and Saint Xavier sophomore rightfielder Nicole Barker (Chicago Heights, Ill./Marian Catholic) drove in the Cougars' lone run with a RBI single in the top of the seventh to lead to the 3-1 loss. Junior rightie Jessica Wilson (Munster, Ind./Munster) took the loss for SXU giving up nine hits and three earned runs over six innings. Wilson struck out five batters in the game.

Next, Saint Xavier took on No. 16 ranked William Woods University (Mo.) and dropped the seven inning game, 7-4. Junior shortstop Colleen Kilduff (Hickory Hills, Ill./Stagg) and sophomore first baseman Jory Bodi (Richmond, Ill./Richmond-Burton) each racked up two hits in the game with Kilduff recording two runs scored and Bodi driving in two RBI. William Woods jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the first inning and, although the Cougars answered with a run in the second and third innings, three more runs in the third inning by Williams Woods secured the loss for SXU. Freshman Nicolle Bartels (Chicago, Ill./Marian Catholic) picked up the loss for Saint Xavier giving up five hits and five runs (one earned) in two innings on the mound.

In SXU's final pool play game on Saturday, the Cougars took on No. 4 University of Mobile (Ala.) and lost 10-0 in five innings. Saint Xavier managed just one hit in the game by sophomore centerfielder Marie Barker (Chicago Heights, Ill./Marian Catholic). Mobile scored four runs in each of the first two innings of the game and scored a run apiece in the third and fourth innings, respectively, to claim the victory. Freshman Ashley Shearer (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) picked up the loss for SXU giving up seven hits and eight runs (five earned) in one and two-thirds innings of work.

In their first game in the silver bracket Saturday, the Cougars got some momentum with a 2-1 eight-inning win over unranked Belhaven College (Miss.). Sophomore designated hitter Nikki Brown (Rochelle, Ill./Rochelle) went a perfect 3-for-3 with a run scored in the winning effort. Senior second baseman Maura Ryan (Kankakee, Ill./Bishop McNamara) drove in the game-winning run with a one-out, RBI groundout to short. Wilson earned the win for Saint Xavier pitching all eight innings and giving up just three hits and one earned run, while striking out six.

In its final game of the Invitational, SXU fell 6-5 to No. 27 ranked Spring Hill College (Ala.) despite a late rally attempt. Kilduff and junior first baseman Megan Stluka (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) each recorded two hits for the Cougars with Stluka also racking up two RBI and a run scored. With Spring Hill clinging to a 6-3 lead heading into the seventh inning, SXU scored two runs to get within one, but could not score the tying run. Bartels received the loss for Saint Xavier pitching four innings and giving up six hits and five runs (four earned).

SXU (1-4 overall) takes a week off before preparing for the Rebel Spring Games in Orlando, Fla., beginning Sunday, March 13. The Cougars will play 12 games during their seven-day trip.