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2013-05-04 Tigers can't hold on; Finish second in CCAC Tournament
2013-05-04 Tigers can't hold on; Finish second in CCAC Tournament

Tigers can't hold leads; Finish second in CCAC Tournament

Author: Wendy Reid
Posted: Monday, May 06, 2013 at 10:40 AM
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – The No. 15 Olivet Nazarene University softball team played host to the 2013 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Tournament from May 2-4. There was a spectrum of weather, from sunny clear skies to rain delays and games called for darkness. Saint Xavier University walked away with the title, finishing the weekend 3-1 with the Tigers coming in second. Olivet will receive an automatic berth to the opening round of the 33rd Annual NAIA National Softball Championships.

Olivet (46-7) entered the tournament as the three-time defending champions, but found themselves the second seed to regular season champion Saint Xavier. The two teams entered the weekend with identical 43-5 records and both ranked in the top 15 of the NAIA. In their meeting earlier in the season, they came away with a split.

The Tigers and the Cougars faced each other three times in the 11-game tournament. In all three games, the Tigers jumped out to early leads but were unable to hold on to two of them. In the third and final matchup, Olivet posted two runs in the bottom of the first inning and another in the fourth before allowing the Cougars three of their own in the top of the fifth. The 4-3 win gave Saint Xavier the tournament title.

Junior pitchers Caitlin Santefort (Mokena, Ill.) and Virginia McAndrews (Wheaton, Ill.) combined in the game to hold the Cougars to just five hits, but did allow six walks and hit two batters. The Tigers connected for 10 hits, three off of the bats of senior Bethany Holaway (Wheaton, Ill.) and freshman Katie Megyesi (Washington, Ill.). Junior Hannah Gardner (Frankfort, Ill.) added two.

"We got a lead and we just didn't do anything with it." ONU coach Ritchie Richardson said. "We busted our butts to get runs and then we're giving them away like Halloween candy."

The game prior, Olivet was able to hold on to a 6-1 victory to force the “if necessary” game. Gardner accounted for three of the Tigers eight hits, including a home run in the first. The homer put her name in the NAIA records books with the longest hit streak at 31 games. Megyesi also added a home run, her sixth on the season. Sophomore Lindsay Stotler (Bloomington, Ill.) picked up the win, improving to 15-1 on the season. She outlasted her former high school teammate and CCAC Freshman of the Year Nicole Nonnemacher.

The two team first met on Friday in the winner’s bracket championship. Again the Tigers jumped out early, leading 4-0 after an inning and a half, but were unable to hold on. The Cougars scored three in the second and one each in the third and fifth to knock the Tigers into the loser bracket. Stotler started for the Tigers, while CCAC Pitcher of the Year, Megan Nonnemacher got the start for the Cougars. The Tigers chased the older Nonnemacher in the second inning, while Stotler only made it into the third. Garnder accounted for half of the Tigers hits and RBIs, hitting 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.

Olivet’s other two games were much more lopsided and far less exciting. In the opening round, the Tigers dropped Judson Univeristy in to the losers bracket with a 9-3 win. Five players produced 11 of the 12 hits, led by sophomore Erika Tatum (Bourbonnais, Ill.) who went 3-for-3 with three RBIs. Garnder, juniors Cheryl Sendzik (Mokena, Ill.) and Justine Phillips (Metamora, Ill.) and sophomore Megan Butler (Frankfort, Ill.) added two each.

The Tigers needed just five innings to finish off the University of Saint Francis, winning 10-2. Gardner led the way once again, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored and five RBIs. Megyesi and Holaway were both 2-for-3, with Megyesi adding a home run.

Despite the loss in the championship, Olivet will advance to the opening round of the NAIA National Tournament. A final NAIA Coaches’ Poll will be released on Tuesday, May 7 followed by the announcement of the opening round match-ups.