CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Despite finishing the 2013 season with an impressive 48-9 record, the No. 14 Olivet Nazarene University softball team walks away disappointed. The Tigers failed to advance out of the NAIA Opening Round with a 16-8 loss to No. 3 Lee University (Tenn.) on Wednesday, May 8. Olivet will have an entire off-season to remember their sluggish offense and the 23 hits the Flames put together to send the Tigers home.
Lee jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Tigers answered with one in the bottom. No one scored again until the third when the Tigers took a 4-3 lead thanks a single by junior Justine Phillips (Metamora, Ill.), a double off the bat of junior Hannah Gardner (Frankfort, Ill.) and a Flames error.
Olivet couldn't hold the lead though, allowing the Flames to score three in the fourth, two in the fifth and one in the sixth to take at 9-5 lead. The Tigers kept it close, adding two in the bottom of the sixth to pull within two. Freshman Katie Megyesi (Washington, Ill.) singled and scored on a home run off the bat of junior Cheryl Sendzik (Mokena, Ill.).
The Tigers entered the seventh inning with the game in reach at 9-7, but gave up seven runs on six hits in the top of the seventh inning. Olivet showed signs of a come-back as Phillips started the inning with a singled to shortstop and Gardner walked before scoring on an Erika Tatum (Bourbonnais, Ill.) double e to center field. But that was all the Tigers could muster.
Olivet used their entire pitching staff in the game. Sophomore Lindsay Stotler (Bloomington, Ill.) got the start and pitched the first three innings. She allowed eight hits and three runs, while striking out two. Junior Caitlin Santefort (Mokena, Ill.) got the loss for the 2.1 innings she threw. She allowed six runs on seven hits, striking out one and walking one. Junior Virginia McAndrews (Wheaton, Ill.) tossed the final 1.2 innings, allowing eight hits and seven runs. She struck out three and allowed just one walk.
Olivet will now regroup and begin preparing for the 2014 season. The Tigers lose just one player to graduation, senior Bethany Holaway (Wheaton, Ill.) graduated Saturday, May 4 with a degree in psychology.