UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio – Capital Softball punched its ticket to the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament with a win over John Carroll University in its doubleheader on Saturday afternoon.The Crusaders split with the Blue Steaks and are now 24-9 overall and 13-2 against OAC opponents.
With its 10-4 win, Capital now has sealed a place in the upcoming tournament, though its seed is still unknown. Currently, the Crusaders are in second place in the OAC standings. They trail Heidelberg University (25-5, 14-2 OAC) by one game and have two games yet to play in their conference schedule.
Heidelberg will round out its conference schedule with a doubleheader against Otterbein University next Saturday. Capital will host Ohio Northern University (20-11, 11-5), who currently has the third seed, next weekend.
GAME 1 – CAPITAL 10, JOHN CARROLL 4
Both teams used the early innings to get its offense going, but a three-run third inning helped Capital gain a 4-3 advantage. Senior Kelsey Swain (Pickerington, Ohio/North) led the inning off with a single and junior Brooklyn Staten (Grove City, Ohio) followed suit. Senior LeAnna Cotton (Okeechobee, Fla.) drove home a run with a sacrifice fly, but senior Maura Rose and sophomore Kat Boyer each posted RBI doubles to help build Capital's lead.
Cotton's power numbers continued to grow when in the fourth she blasted her ninth home run of the season, this time a three-run shot to bulk Capital's lead up to 7-3.
Staten added a run-scoring single in the sixth while junior Ashley Knowles drove home a run with a double to left-center field in their final at bat.
Senior Brooke Billings (Clyde, Ohio) went the distance and allowed just one run in her final four innings of work to keep the Blue Streaks at bay. She finished the day with her 10th complete game of the season while earning win number 10 on the year.
Swain finished the game 3-for-4 at the plate with three runs scored. Eight of Capital's nine hitters tallied at least one hit, accounting for the team's 12 in the game.
Cotton and Rose now share the team lead with nine home runs, a mark that puts both of them tied for third in program history for most homers in a single season. Cotton has already reset the single-season record for RBIs with 61 and tied the record for doubles in a season (16).
GAME 2 – CAPITAL 6, JOHN CARROLL 11
The Blue Streaks prevented a sweep by coming back to defeat Capital in game two, 11-6. While Capital outhit JCU, 12-10, two big innings lead to the Crusaders' demise.
Two home runs hit by Rose and Knowles helped Capital build a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third inning. John Carroll set the table for its big inning using a single and two walks to load the bases, where Carly Simecek put forth a two-run double and was followed by Christie Wade's two-RBI single.
Down 5-3, Capital tied the game up in their half of the fourth inning with run-scoring hits by Staten and junior Therese Becker (South Euclid, Ohio). After Swain led the inning office with a triple, Staten drilled a double to center, scoring her teammate. Three batters later, Becker drove a single to left to score Staten.
In the home half of the fifth, John Carroll put up six runs using four bases hits, two walks and a hit batter.
Capital put up one more run in the top of the seventh on a home run by Becker, but could mount no more offense following that blast. Becker finished game two 3-for-4 from the plate with two RBIs.