Softball wins OAC Tournament, earns automatic bid to the 2018 NCAA Tournament with 3-2 victory over Otterbein

Softball wins OAC Tournament, earns automatic bid to the 2018 NCAA Tournament with 3-2 victory over Otterbein

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.

Seniors Kirsten Lightel (Tallmadge), Jenna Hollar (Lima/Bath) and Miranda Huddle (Versailles) and sophomore Gabby Stewart were all named to the All-OAC Tournament team for their efforts this weekend.

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.