COLUMBUS, Ohio – The combination of Amber Martinelli and Brianna Reardon plus superb defense by Bailey Walter helped shut down the Ohio Northern University offense in Sunday afternoon's sweep of the Polar Bears. Capital sent its seniors off on a high note with wins by scores of 2-1 and 2-0, which also confirmed the Purple and White's place in the upcoming Ohio Athletic Conference Softball Tournament.
GAME 1 – Ohio Northern 1, Capital 2
Senior Amber Martinelli (Alison Park, Pa./Hampton) had the one of the best games of her career after holding the Polar Bears to just two hits and striking out a career-high 10 batters. Her previous high was seven, set earlier this season. Martinelli had four innings in which she put down the Polar Bears in order and twice faced just four batters in an inning. She never faced more than five batters in any one inning over the course of the game.
Ohio Northern posted the game's first run when Athena Triglia led off the top of the third inning with a double and later came around to score on Anna Martin's single to left field, but her hit was the last ONU would register for the entire game.
Martinelli received a lot of defensive help from her teammates, especially junior centerfielder Bailey Walter (Ashland, Ohio/Crestview). In the top of the fourth inning, Walter made a feet-first diving catch on a shallow fly ball hit by Gia Saturday. It was not the last time her number would be called in the field on Sunday.
Capital marked up the scoresheet in five of their six trips to the plate but did its damage in the bottom of the fifth. Junior Haleigh Luce (Greenville, Ohio/Greenville) led the inning off with a single to center field and then was replaced on the bases by freshman Hannah Martin (Massillon, Ohio/Tuslaw). After a sacrifice by Katherine Boyer advanced her to second, junior Pam Vickers put down a bunt that she legged out for a single, but the throw to first skipped off of the first baseman's glove and an aware Martin kept wheeling around third to score on the miscue. Vickers then stole second and later came around to score when Walter blasted an opposite field shot to left for a double that one-hopped the wall.
Martinelli (14-7) stole the show from there, striking out the side in the sixth inning and two more in the seventh. She struck out Laura Burden swinging to end the game, leaving the tying run on second base.
ONU pitcher Kirsten Lightel (14-6) took the loss even after allowing just two runs, one earned, on six hits while striking out three.
The win sealed Capital's postseason spot in the upcoming OAC Tournament.
GAME 2 – Ohio Northern 0, Capital 2
With their postseason fate locked up, Capital turned to pitcher Brianna Reardon (Fremont, Ohio/St. Joseph Central Catholic) to deliver in the circle in game two. She did not disappoint. The sophomore pitched a complete-game shutout, the first of her career.
While Reardon did not provide the dramatic strikeouts as Martinelli did in game one, she did limit the Polar Bears to just three hits over her seven innings of work. The defense answered the call to support their hurler, and outside of a harmless throwing error in the first inning, provided another near-spotless game.
Walter made two game-changing plays in centerfield to help keep ONU off the board. She erased the error by doubling up the runner at first on a hard hit ball. The junior tracked down a line drive hit by Gabby Stewart and immediately after making the grab tossed a strike to Marissa Koss at first base to get Jenna Hollar, who was stealing on the play, out at first.
She replicated that play in the seventh inning when ONU threatened by putting the first two runners on base. Walter quelled the threat by fielding a hard hit ball in center and then fired a laser to Koss at first. The initial call was safe, but after an umpire conference on the field, the call was quickly overturned to confirm the double play.
Reardon then ended the game by forcing Sam Arnold to ground out to Koss, completing the sweep and leading to the sophomore's first career complete-game shutout.
Cap needed just two runs to earn the win. The first came in the bottom of the second inning when Kristen Mellott scored on a two-out single through the left side of the infield by Luce. The Crusaders came back an inning later and tagged on another run when ONU catcher Gabby Stewart hit Morgan Fadel in the back on an attempted sacrifice bunt. The loose ball allowed Walter to score from second on more aggressive base running.
Mellot and Luce each posted two hits to lead Cap offensively in game two.
Between games one and two the senior class was recognized for their accomplishments over their four years and their impact on Capital University. Those seniors included: Brooke Hokes, Katherine Boyer, Sarah Jasinski, Natalie Mabry, Amber Martinelli, and Marissa Koss.
Capital will now prepare for its run into the OAC Softball Tournament, which will be held at Otterbein University on May 5-7. Capital (12-6), the third seed in the tournament, will kick off action on Friday morning with No. 2 Heidelberg University (13-4-1) at 10 a.m. They will then play again at either 2 p.m. or 4 p.m. that day based on the result of that game.
The tournament is a double elimination format and features the top four teams from the season's conference standings. Also advancing to the OAC Tournament is host and top-seeded Otterbein University, and the fourth-seeded Purple Raiders of the University of Mount Union. In the regular season, Capital split with both Heidelberg and Otterbein, and was swept by Mount Union.
For additional information about the OAC Tournament, click here.