By Tim Glon
NEW CONCORD — The Ohio Northern softball team fell at Muskingum 6-4 and 8-0 in a battle of Ohio Athletic Conference leaders on Saturday at Newberry Field.
The Polar Bears fall to 21-15 overall and end OAC play at 14-4, while the Muskies improve to 31-9, 15-3.
Ohio Northern will be the No. 2 seed at next weekend's OAC Tournament and will face either Otterbein or Baldwin Wallace in the first game of the OAC Tournament on Friday.
Muskingum will host the tournament as the No. 1 seed.
Northern needed a victory in either game on Saturday to win the league title and clinch the No. 1 seed, but MU rallied from 2-0, 3-1 and 4-3 deficits to win Game 1 and pulled away with three runs in the fourth and four more in the sixth of Game 2 to complete the sweep.
In the opener, junior Gabby Stewart (Union, Ky./St. Henry) went 3-for-4 with a home run and 2 RBI to lead a 12-hit ONU offensive effort.
She had an RBI double and later scored on a double by senior Hailee Loughman (Brookville) as ONU jumped to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first.
Stewart then hit her fourth home run of the season and the 12th of her career in the top of the third to put ONU up 3-1.
After MU tied it at 3-all, junior Jordan Cloonan (Kirtland/Cornerstone Christian) scored on a Muskie error in the fourth to give the Polar Bears a 4-3 advantage.
The hosts responded with single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to grab the opener 6-4.
In game two, MU led 1-0 when a 2-out, 3-run double made it 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth.
Muskingum ended the game due to the NCAA's 8-run rule with four runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Ohio Northern will be making its 11th OAC Tournament appearance in the past 13 years and its 24th appearance in the 35-year history of the event.
The Polar Bears have won six OAC Tournament titles and are the defending OAC Tournament champions.
ONU will wrap up its regular season on Tuesday with a non-conference double header at Case Western Reserve.