COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Capital University softball team had its tournament title run come to an end after falling in an elimination game against Ohio Northern University. The Polar Bears outlasted the Crusaders in an extra-inning pitcher's duel, 3-2, in 10 innings.
Both starting pitchers went all 10 innings, completing what they had started. In a rematch between these two hurlers, senior Brooke Billings (Clyde, Ohio) took the loss (12-9) allowing three runs on 11 hits while striking out four.
Her counterpart, Kirsten Lightel (W, 16-3) allowed just two runs, neither earned, and six hits while walking three and striking out three.
The Polar Bears (23-13) put together a two-out rally in the home half of the 10th inning to score the winning run. Four-hitter Amanda Lahti doubled to keep the inning alive and Kelly Sheridan finished the job with the walk-off base hit.
The two teams went back and forth in the later innings, nearly ending the game before heading to extras. Capital trailed 1-0 but a dropped fly ball in the outfield added with a couple of well-placed ground balls allowed them to extend the game.
Both teams swapped runs in the ninth inning, Capital first applying the pressure by cashing in on another Ohio Northern error. Junior Ashley Knowles (Canton, Ohio) led the inning off with a single up the middle and scored when Lightel tried to put her out at second on a Sarah Jasinski bunt. Her throw was launched into center field and tailed all the way to the wall, allowing Knowles to score. However, ONU came back in the home half to tie it up on a Jamie Westenkirchner RBI single.
Lahti and Sheridan both finished with three hits apiece to lead the Polar Bears.
Capital was held to just six hits over the course of the game, three of which were from Knowles. Senior Kelsey Swain (Pickerington, Ohio) had two hits, while Jasinski also had one base hit.
Saturday morning's game was a rematch of each team's first game of the OAC Tournament after second-seeded Capital defeated third-seeded Ohio Northern, 6-3, to put the Polar Bears into the loser's bracket. Ohio Northern defeated John Carroll the previous evening to stay alive. They now will play Heidelberg in an attempt to dethrone the regular season champions.
Capital ends their Ohio Athletic Conference title run with a 28-14 overall record. They will wait to see if they will receive an at-large bid for the NCAA Division III Softball Tournament, next week.