By Tim Glon
WESTERVILLE —The Ohio Northern softball team clinched a spot in the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament and stayed atop the OAC standings with a double header split at Otterbein on Tuesday afternoon at the Otterbein Softball Field.
ONU won the opener 6-3 in nine innings and OU won the nightcap 12-4 in five innings.
The Polar Bears move to 19-11 overall and remain in first place in the OAC standings with a 12-2 record, while the Cardinals move to 19-13, 10-4.
With the split, Northern has clinched a spot in the 4-team OAC Tournament May 3-5 for the second consecutive year and the fifth time in the past six seasons.
In Game 1, junior Gabby Stewart (Union, Ky./St. Henry) broke a 3-all tie with a 2-run single in the top of the ninth.
Senior Kaitlin Surdej (Lancaster, N.Y./Central) struck out eight in the complete-game victory and improves to 12-5 on the season.
Loughman, Stewart and freshman Rachel Hish (Gainesville, Va./Patriot) each had a pair of hits to lead ONU's 10-hit attack.
In game two, ONU built a 4-0 lead after an inning and a half, but OU scored eight runs in the bottom of the seconds to take an 8-4 lead.
Otterbein then ended the game due to the NCAA's 8-run rule with four more runs in the bottom of the fifth.
The Polar Bears will return to action on Friday with a home double header against Marietta at 1 pm at the ONU Softball Field.