College Softball: St. Xavier takes second to Olivet Nazarene in CCAC tourney
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media May 4, 2014 8:12PM
Updated: June 6, 2014 6:26AM
Her players were disappointed, but St. Xavier coach Myra Minuskin didn’t want them to be.
They had no reason to be.
The Cougars came into Sunday’s Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship needing to twice defeat Olivet Nazarene to win the double-elimination format tournament.
Host St. Xavier won the opener 5-2, only to fall 7-4 in the winner-take-all second game. With their second-place finish in the CCAC tourney, the Cougars claimed a berth in the NAIA World Series.
“My challenge as a coach now is to keep them up, keep them confident,” Minuskin said. “It’s such a good rivalry, and when it’s Olivet — and we’ve just beaten them —there’s that added incentive. I’m thrilled, excited because this is what we play all year for.”
St. Xavier (45-7-1) had its work cut out Sunday in the drama department, needing to string two wins together against an Olivet team that had lost just twice all season.
The Tigers (46-3-1) came into Sunday’s games on a 35-game unbeaten streak. They had lost their first two games of the season.
“They needed to lose,” St. Xavier’s Nicole Nonnemacher said with a smile.
Olivet (46-3-1) did just that in the opener Sunday, thanks in great part to Nonnemacher (20-4). The sophomore gave up two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts. Katie Sears (Mother McAuley) added four RBI on two two-run doubles.
“We mixed it up, throwing more outside than inside and mix in some off-speed to get their timing off,” Nonnemacher said. “It’s easy when the offense (scores). Katie had a day (Sunday).”
The Cougars looked to have a stranglehold in the second game, but a five-run fifth turned a three-run Tigers deficit into a two-run advantage. St. Xavier starter Megan Nonnemacher (22-3) retired the first two batters she faced in the fifth, but the next seven reached base, five of them scoring, as Olivet went up 6-4.
“You can never score enough runs against them,” Minuskin said. “There’s no weakness in that lineup. Megan is a great pitcher. She’s cruising, and then it’s Olivet being Olivet.”
Nonnemacher finished with seven strikeouts in taking the loss. Nicole Nonnemacher finished with two RBI while Sears scored twice.
“Every game we play to win,” said Sears, who went 4-for-8 with three runs and four RBI. “I was feeling good up at the plate.”
St. Xavier will find out its NAIA World Series destination Tuesday.
“I’m very confident, and we’re very confident,” Minuskin said. “We’ll be ready to go.”