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Blue Streaks qualify for postseason: JCU baseball and softball teams advance to conference tournaments

April 30th, 2009

After this weekend, the regular season will officially be over for both baseball and softball.

The top four teams in the Ohio Athletic Conference advance to the conference tournament. This year both the John Carroll University baseball and softball teams have had terrific regular seasons that have advanced them into the postseason. JCU is the only institution to send a team to both tournaments.

The baseball team, who will close out their conference schedule with a doubleheader at home against Heidelberg College, currently sit at 23-8 overall, tied with Marietta College at 11-5 in the OAC.

Ahead of both the Blue Streaks and the Pioneers is Heidelberg College, JCU’s opponent this Saturday. In the event that the Blue Streaks tie with the Student Princes, the Blue Streaks will earn the No. 1 seed as a result of the head-to-head tiebreaker.

On the road or at home, JCU can win anywhere. Naturally, they would prefer to play at home, but their 11-4 mark on the road and 8-2 record when playing at a neutral field suggests they can go anywhere.

The softball team enters the OAC Tournament with 27 victories to their name, smashing the school record of 24 wins set by the 2000 and 2003 teams. They are the No. 2 seed in the tournament.

JCU will look to add to that total tomorrow when they do battle with Mount Union College in the opening game of the conference tournament.
These two teams met on April 1 at Bracken Field with JCU sweeping the pair.

That was one month ago, and these are different teams now. That is particularly true for coach Erin Brooks Kingsbury’s team that has four freshman who see time on a regular basis. That quartet was adjusting to the game back then, but now they’re seasoned veterans.

Both the baseball and softball teams are led by strong pitching staffs, a necessary ingredient for postseason success.

Senior Paul O’Donnell has been the ace of head coach Mark Thibeault’s pitching staff, going 6-1 with an ERA of 3.56.

Sophomore Tom Schaberl, as well as freshman Chris Eggleton both figure to work into the starting pitching equation.

Juniors Chris Koller and Adam Jenkins can both be counted on with the lead in the late innings.

The same is true for the softball team and their star pitcher, freshman Brittany Danilov. Her 19 wins this season are already a single-season school record. Junior Samantha Thompson, when not handling the shortstop duties, has done a great job as a No. 2 starter.

Both offenses are led by terrific leadoff hitters who get on base and set the table for the middle of the lineup. Senior Michael Krainz does it for the men, while junior centerfielder Julie Marlowe has been on a tear as of late for her team.

Third basemen that are run producers from the three-hole in the lineup are also a common denominator. Sophomore Brian Benander and freshman Erin Riccardi handle the job well for their respective teams.

Those two have success with big bats to protect them in the lineups, freshman Tom Hickey and senior Jamie Smrdel respectively. Both Hickey and Smrdel are tops in the entire conference in batting average, and both have great power and the ability to drive in runs.

These teams representing JCU are very similar in makeup, and enter the postseason with one common goal: to bring home a conference title.