By Caleb Scott
| OAC Tournament |
WESTERVILLE — For the first time since the 2009 season, the Ohio Northern softball team has been crowned the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament Champions after defeating host and No. 1 seed Otterbein 3-2 on Saturday afternoon in the title game at the Otterbein Softball Field.
The Polar Bears (30-9 overall) become the first team since current head coach Jackie (Mangola) Price made the NCAA Tournament as a player and current assistant coach Tina (Mangola) Martinez made the NCAA Tournament as an assistant coach for ONU in 2012, to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
Northern posted a perfect 3-0 record in the tournament, defeating No. 2-seed Heidelberg 2-0 on Friday, before defeating host and No. 1-seeded Otterbein 3-2 on Friday and 3-2 on Saturday.
Lightel was a perfect 3-0 in the pitchers circle for ONU this weekend, waiving 13 batters in her three appearances.
The senior was lights out again in today's championship game, striking out three batters and posting a 0.00 ERA in a complete game performance.
Her 64 career wins are now only two shy of tying the all-time record at ONU set by Cortney Cash from 2007-2010.
Offensively, Hollar, Huddle and Stewart each had two hits to lead ONU against Otterbein.
Stewart wasted no time getting ONU its first lead of the afternoon, knocking her first at-bat of the contest over the right center fence to give ONU an early 1-0 advantage in the top of the first inning.
After the Cardinals took the lead between the third and fourth innings, sophomore Alicia Swierz (Deerfield/Southeast) plated Huddle with a sacrifice fly before the go-ahead run and what proved to be the game winner came from an RBI single from Stewart to plate Hollar and help lift ONU to the 3-2 victory.
The Polar Bears will await the Div. III NCAA Selection show on Monday, May 7 at 1 p.m. to see who and where they will play in the opening contest of the 2018 NCAA Div. III Tournament.