COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Capital University Softball ended its regular season with a strong string of play, which granted the team the number three seed in this year's OAC Softball Tournament. The Purple and White will begin its attempt to win its first tournament championship since 1997 this weekend in Westerville, Ohio where host Otterbein University, Heidelberg University and the University of Mount Union will meet for the three-day, double elimination tournament.
WHAT: OAC Softball Tournament
WHEN: Friday, May 5 - Sunday, May 7 (weather permitting)
WHERE: Otterbein University, Otterbein Softball Fields | Directions
LINKS: OAC Tournament page | Live stats (all games) | Audio (select Capital games)
No. 1 Otterbein Cardinals (31-6, 16-2 OAC)
Of those teams in the tournament, Otterbein has the lowest team earned run average with large thanks to ace Gabby Johnson (14-0, 1.13). The sophomore leads the conference in wins, shutouts (6), strikeouts per game (8.08), and batting average against. She has been named OAC Pitcher of the Week three weeks running. Her counterpart in the circle is no slouch either. Junior Rachel Owens compliments Johnson well with a 9-4 record and 2.34 earned run average.
Otterbein also has the highest team batting average (.345) and is second in runs scored (215). They have posted the most doubles (64) and are just three homers off the pace of the league leader, Mount Union. The Cardinals have three hitters that have batting averages north of .400: Alyson Shaw (.457), Megan Garner (.453) and Molly Riggs (.443). Bailey McElwain leads the club in home runs (5) and runs batted in (37).
No. 2 Heidelberg Student Princes (25-12-1, 13-4-1 OAC)
Heidelberg started slowly but has come alive after splitting with Capital. From April 8 on, Heidelberg has gone 10-3-1 with a string of 10 games in which they were unbeaten. They rank in the top five in most categories in the OAC but no higher than third, except inn triples (2nd, 7).
Look for Bailey Smith to lead the offense as she has for much of this season. Smith is hitting a team-best .403 with 17 RBIs. Casey Moore serves as the team's slugger behind 17 extra-base hits and leads the team in doubles (11), home runs (5), and runs batted in (22).
Moore is also one of two pitchers the Student Princes feature. She sports a 12-6 win-loss record, 2.92 ERA and has struck out 111 batters this season. Joining her in the circle this season has been Erin Chapman (12-5) who has a slightly lower ERA at 2.89.
No. 3 Capital Crusaders (25-15, 12-6 OAC)
Cap possesses a nice mixture of skills to account for its success this season. Junior Pam Vickers leads the conference in batting average (.460), which feeds into the team's .307 batting average. Perhaps as important as her bat is her glove, which fuels the team's conference-leading fielding percentage. Between Vickers and Kristen Mellott, they lock down the left side of the infield. Marisa Koss and Sarah Jasinski on the right side of the infield both have fielding percentages north of .950, as well. Last week, junior centerfielder Bailey Walter was a part of two double plays and another diving grab to maintain her perfect fielding mark, which only served a portion of the reason she was named the final OAC Hitter of Week.
Amber Martinelli (14-7, 2.06) leads the pitching staff and ended the regular season on a high note by tossing a career-high 10 strikeouts in the team's postseason-clinching win. She shares the conference lead for wins in a season (14) and is in the top five for lowest ERA.
At the dish, count on Bailey Walter (.333) to get it started at the top of the lineup as well as drive home runners when they get on base. She leads the team with six round trippers, 28 RBIs, and 13 doubles. Freshman Morgan Fadel is a great compliment in the lineup, hitting .368 with eight doubles and 16 ribbies.
No. 4 Mount Union Purple Raiders (18-21-1, 10-8 OAC)
Mount Union goes about its business by doing many things well. They lead the conference in runs scored (226), extra-base hits (95), triples (16), home runs (19), RBIs (216), and stolen bases (73). Logan Lehman leads the club with a .412 batting average and six home runs, and is second on the team in RBIs (34). Outfielder Brittany Bait lives for extra bases with five doubles, seven triples and three home runs.
Mount Union's stellar offense makes up for what it may be lacking in the pitching department. The team's ERA (3.59) is eighth in the conference, plus they have given up the most home runs (20) and have surrendered the second-most walks (115). Allie Scali (7-12, 3.76) and Hannah Reusser (11-8, 2.89) split time in the circle for the Purple Raiders.
THE CAPITAL WAY
Capital ended the regular season with six straight OAC wins with sweeps over Marietta, Baldwin Wallace and Ohio Northern. The only loss the Crusaders took since that run began was a one-run, extra-inning result against Bluffton College on April 23.
Against the rest of the tournament field, Capital has a combined record of 2-4 having split with both Otterbein and Heidelberg, while falling to Mount Union twice by scores of 2-1 and 5-1. The only other OAC team to beat top-seeded Otterbein this year is John Carroll.
Capital's series with its first-round opponent, Heidelberg, was a tale of two teams. Both Capital pitchers threw well, limiting the Student Princes to four total runs, but the offense saved it all for their game two win that last just five innings. Capital lost game one, 2-1, but dealt an 11-2 wallop in game two.
OAC TOURNAMENT HISTORY
Otterbein has won the regular season championship two years running, and as such, will serve as the host for the second straight year. Of those teams participating in this year's championships, their all-time OAC Tournament records are:
Otterbein: 4-11 (6 appearances)
Heidelberg: 7-5 (4 appearances)
Capital: 14-26 (15 appearances) * did not appear in 2016
Mount Union: 31-40 (22 appearances) * did not appear in 2016
In 2016, Heidelberg walked away as the conference tournament champion as the number-four seed, winning all three games. They defeated No. 3 Muskingum, 4-2, in the championship game. Host Otterbein was the first team to be eliminated in last year's tournament.
Capital has not won the OAC Tournament since 1997 and has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2013 when it won the regular season title and went as an at-large selection.
HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAME
Single Event/Championship - $8
Seniors (62)/Military - $6
OAC Students – Free
Non-OAC Students - $3
OAC lifetime passes will be honored for all championships (regular-season passes will not)