TIFFIN, Ohio – The Capital University softball team had mixed success on the opening day of the Ohio Athletic Conference Softball Tournament, hosted by Heidelberg University. The Crusaders enjoyed a 6-3 victory of No. 3 Ohio Northern University, but fell in the late innings to the Student Princes, 2-1. Capital will return to Frann's Field on Saturday at 11 a.m. in an elimination game against Ohio Northern.
GAME 1 - #3 Ohio Northern 3, #2 Capital 6
Senior LeAnna Cotton (Okeechobee, Fla.) served as the finisher in Capital's 6-3 win in the opening game of the 2015 Ohio Athletic Conference Softball Tournament. Cotton drove home two runs in each of her three plate appearances, totaling six RBIs on the day.
Ohio Northern (21-13) took advantage of a pair of walks by Capital pitcher Brooke Billings, scoring one in the top of the first inning on a sacrifice fly. Cotton flipped the script on the Polar Bears with one swing of the bat, blasting a two-run homer over the left-center field fence.
Cotton continued to push runs across the plate with run-scoring base hits in the second and fourth innings. Capital's lead escalated to 4-1 when the senior drove home Sarah Jasinski and Kelsey Swain on a single through the left side of the infield. Two innings later, she went the other way on ONU pitcher Kirsten Lightel to score the same duo of runners again.
The conference's leader in wins and earned run average was nicked up for six runs and six hits as Lightel took just her third loss of the season. The ONU defense committed five errors, which leads to four of those runs being unearned.
Jasinski earned her stripes in just her third start of the season, going 2-for-3 at the plate and two runs scored.
Billings earned her 12th win of the season, sprinkling six hits and three runs over her seven innings of work. It was also her 12th complete game of the season.
GAME 2 – #2 Capital 1, #1 Heidelberg 2
After enduring a three-inning stalemate with the Student Princes, the hosts broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the sixth inning and held on for the win.
Capital had multiple chances to break the tie itself, but after being stopped short twice by the Heidelberg defense the Student Princes' bats woke up just enough to plate the eventual winning run. Senior Alyssa Patznick (Newark, Ohio) allowed a leadoff walk that would come back to haunt the Crusaders. After Heidelberg pinch runner Jordan Hux was moved to second base on a sacrifice. Abbey McKee then hit a double to left that scored Hux, giving Heidelberg to the lead. Capital then went 1-2-3 in the seventh to end the game.
The Crusaders were not without chances to take the lead earlier in the game. In the third inning, Capital lined into a double play to end its threat. In the fourth inning, Ashley Knowles singled up the middle and Therese Becker attempted to score from second base, but the throw from center was on the money and led to Becker being tagged out at the plate. In the fifth, Brooke Billings drove a two-out triple to right but was stranded there at the end of the inning.
Paige Atterholt turned down the Capital offense in order in each of the final two innings to seal the win for the Student Princes.
Capital will now play Ohio Northern in an elimination game at 11 a.m. at Frann's Field in Tiffin, Ohio. The winner of that game will go up against Heidelberg to vie for the conference title, though Capital would need to beat the Student Princes twice to be crowned champion. Ohio Northern one-hit JCU in a 3-0 win on Friday afternoon in its second game of the day.
Heidelberg is serving as the host of the 2015 OAC Softball Tournament after winning the conference regular season championship and the overall number-one seed.