By Tim Glon
ADA -- Senior Christin Miller became Ohio Northern's all-time career hits leader to lead the Polar Bears on the first day of the 2014 Ohio Athletic Conference Softball Tournament on Friday at the ONU Softball Field.
Top-seed ONU (21-18 overall) fell to fourth-seeded John Carroll (19-17) 14-13 in its first game of the day, then eliminated third-seeded Marietta (21-17) 8-3 in the consolation semifinals later Friday evening.
Northern will face John Carroll on Saturday morning at 11 am in the consolation finals with the winner advancing to the championship game at 1 pm Saturday against Muskingum (25-15), who won twice on Friday.
Miller went 5-for-8 in the two games, giving her 253 base hits in her career. She broke the previous record of 249 hits by Mandi Fought from 2007-10.
Junior Adriana Sikora drilled her 12th and 13th home runs of the year as she led off each of ONU's contests with solo home runs.
Junior Kelly Sheridan also went 5-for-7 on the day.
Against Marietta, Sikora's home run gave ONU a quick 1-0 lead.
Miller followed with a bunt single and Sheridan ripped a triple into the right field corner to put ONU up 2-0.
Junior Jamie Westinkirchner scored on a Pioneer fielding error in the second to make it 3-0 and doubled home Sheridan in the third to put ONU on top 4-0.
Northern added to its lead in the top of the fourth on a sac fly by Lahti and an RBI single by Sheridan.
Westenkirchner then hit a 2-run home run in the top of the seventh to gave ONU an 8-2 advantage and cap a 3-for-4, 3 RBI game.
Freshman Kirsten Burden improved to 8-8 on the year with the complete game victory in the circle.
Against JCU, Sikora's home run to lead off the bottom of the first to pull ONU within 2-1.
Miller singled and later scored on a RBI ground out by senior Colleen Baliga to tie it at 2-2.
Senior Bree Hiteshew hit her third home run of the season in the bottom of the second to put Ohio Northern up 3-2.
After John Carroll took a 5-3 lead, ONU responded with a 6-run fourth inning to go on top 9-5.
Miller hit her record-breaking single with bases loaded to make it a 5-4 game and sophomore Amanda Lahti followed with a single to tie the game at 5-5.
Senior Carly McKenzie then drilled a grand slam to cap the rally and give Northern a 9-5 lead.
Lahti drilled a 3-run home run in the bottom of the fifth to put the Polar Bears on top 13-6.
But the Blue Streaks rallied with eight runs in the top of the seventh to take a 14-13 lead and held on for the win.