By Caleb Scott
WESTERVILLE — The Ohio Northern softball team team kicked off the 2018 Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament with an impressive defensive effort and a 2-0 victory over No. 2-seeded Heidelberg on Friday morning before defeating host and No. 1-seed Otterbein 3-2 at the Otterbein Softball Field.
The Polar Bears improve to 28-9 overall, while the Student Princes fall to 25-14 and Otterbein falls to 31-9.
Senior Jenna Hollar (Lima/Bath) led the way offensively for ONU in game one, going 3-for-4 at the plate with a RBI and a run scored.
In the second contest, sophomore Gabby Stewart (Union, Ky./St. Henry) led the way, going 2-for-3 with a crucial RBI and run scored.
After Hollar opened the first contest with a single and a stolen base in the top of the first inning, junior Hailee Loughman (Brookville) drove her home with a single to give ONU a 1-0 lead.
The Polar Bears added to their lead in the top of the second inning as a single from Hollar plated senior Miranda Huddle (Versailles) and pushed the lead to 2-0.
The Northern defense would then step up and put an exclamation point on the contest with a double play to seal the 2-0 victory.
Senior Kirsten Lightel (Tallmadge) picked up the game one victory, allowing only four hits and fanning seven batters. Lightel improves to 16-3 on the year.
In Northern's second contest of the tournament, Hollar opened the game reaching on an Otterbein miscue before Stewart pushed her home with an RBI double to give ONU an early 1-0 lead.
The Cardinals would score their first run of the contest in the top of the fourth inning to knot the game at 1-all.
Sophomore Alicia Swierz (Deerfield/Southeast) was able to score in the bottom of the fifth inning to give ONU a 2-1 lead before rain forced the contest to be delayed.
Following the 30-minute rain delay, Northern responded with another run in the bottom of the fifth inning to give ONU a 3-1 lead.
Otterbein was able to add one more run, but Lightel and company closed the door in the top of the seventh inning, sealing the 3-2 victory.
Lightel improved to 17-3 on the season with the victory in the pitchers circle.
The Polar Bears will return to action on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. and will take on the winner of the fifth game of the tournament which has yet to be determined.