The John Carroll Blue Streaks softball team has gone 3-1 in their last four games dating back to last Wednesday, April 25, to clinch the second seed in Friday and Saturday’s Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament in Ada, Ohio.
The Blue Streaks split their doubleheader with crosstown rival Baldwin-Wallace last Wednesday, taking game one, 5-0, and then dropping the nightcap, 9-8. Senior first baseman Ollie Mathews homered in both games for the Blue and Gold giving her her second and third home runs of the season, and senior pitcher Brittany Danilov’s complete game shutout in game one was her fifth of the season.
Then on Sunday, April 29, in the OAC regular season finale, their second place Blue Streaks were in need of just one victory against Heidelberg to clinch the second seed in the upcoming OAC postseason tournament.
The Blue and Gold rose above and beyond the call of duty as they not only clinched the second seed, but swept the ‘Berg on Senior Day in front of a packed house on a beautiful, sunny day at John Carroll’s Bracken Field.
In game one against the ‘Berg, the Blue Streaks emerged victorious by a final count of 4-2, as Brittany Danilov won her 18th game of the season in a complete game effort where she did not allow a single earned run. The Blue Streaks were led offensively by sophomores Morgan Robinson and Heather Hurley who each had two hits in the ballgame, including Hurley’s RBI double in the fifth that was part of a three-run inning.
Soon after, in game two, the Blue Streaks overcame a 5-2 Heidelberg lead to complete the sweep with a 7-5 victory. Down 5-2 entering the bottom of the fifth, the Blue Streaks’ bats came alive as Erin Riccardi drove in three with a double, and then advanced home following Hurley’s third home run of the season that gave the Blue and Gold an eventual game ending score of 7-5. Riccardi also connected on a homerun back in the first inning, her second of the season and 17th of her career.
Following the sweep of Heidelberg — the Blue and Gold’s fifth conference sweep of the season — John Carroll finished their regular season with an overall record of 27-13, 12-6 in conference play, which was good for a second place finish in the OAC standings behind first place Ohio Northern. The Blue Streaks will join Ohio Northern, Otterbein and Muskingum as the conference’s four representatives in this weekend’s OAC Tournament to play for the opportunity to become conference tournament champions.
For John Carroll’s senior class, which consists of Danilov, Riccardi, Mathews, Michelle Murphy and Elena Cotton, ending their respective careers as conference champions would be the most appropriate way to conclude their collegiate careers.
“It [winning an OAC title] would be essentially the best feeling in the world,” said Riccardi. “We’ve worked [so] hard all four years, and it would be the best payoff.”
“We’ve proved [over the last four seasons] that John Carroll can contend with the best the OAC has to offer,” said Danilov. “It’s a very exciting time for us seniors; we’ve worked so hard these past four years and going out with another OAC Tournament title would mean the world to us.”
The John Carroll class of 2012 concluded the regular season with an overall record of 107-53, and is the first senior class in program history to record four consecutive winning seasons. The senior class was also influential in helping the Blue Streaks softball program reach the top of the OAC mountain with the school’s first tournament championship in 2010, followed up by the program’s first regular season championship in 2011.
This upcoming Friday and Saturday in Ada, Ohio, the Blue and Gold will search for their second OAC Tournament championship in three seasons, and potentially a birth to the NCAA softball tournament.
Game times and complete Ohio Athletic Conference tournament information can be found at www.OAC.org, with postgame stories and stats available on www.jcusports.com.