Benedictine baseball, softball get it done on the diamond
BY JOHN GROCHOWSKI Sun-Times Media May 7, 2014 11:14PM
La Grange Park, 05/06/13--Nazareth's P Holly Haberkorn delivers a pitch to home. Nazareth Academy hosted Fenwick High School in softball Monday afternoon. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 10, 2014 6:37AM
With a chance to face the toughest competition the NACC has to offer, Benedictine came through Saturday, both in softball and baseball.
The Eagles softball team (32-11, 16-6) knocked off top-seeded Aurora (27-15, 18-4) twice, 5-4 and 5-2, to win the conference tournament in Milwaukee and claim an automatic bid in the NCAA Division III tournament.
In baseball, the Eagles (22-16, 16-4) swept league leader Concordia Chicago 7-1 and 13-10 in Lisle. Concordia (33-5, 17-3), ranked fourth in the nation by D3Baseball.com, is the top seed and Benedictine the No. 2 seed for this weekend’s conference tournament in Mequon, Wisconsin.
In the NCAA tournament, the softball Eagles open against Wisconsin-Whitewater on Friday at the University of Chicago. Benedictine enters on a 13-game winning streak.
“I would say coming into the season that our strength was our defense, but when we have our right lineup in, we pretty much have a solid nine,” said coach Kate Heidkamp, whose team has 130 stolen bases and ranks third in the nation at 3.02 steals per game. “We do try to make some things happen.”
Heidkamp pointed to junior outfielder Sarah Koch, hitting .382 with seven home runs and 56 RBI, 23 more than sophomore catcher-infielder Kailee Cable, who is hitting .404 and second in RBI (33). On the mound, sophomore Melissa Guzior is 14-6 with a 1.49 ERA and freshman Holly Haberkorn is 13-2 (2.55).
“These girls, they can just play,” Heidkamp said. “I know everyone always thinks this about their own kids. But they’re just such an amazing group of girls, they’re well-rounded, they’re just awesome young ladies, and they get it done on the field too. They’ve just kind of figured it out lately.”
CCAC tournament champion Olivet Nazarene and runner-up St. Xavier both advanced to NAIA tournament play opening Monday at regional sites. Olivet Nazarene, the No. 1 seed at Davenport, Iowa, plays Huntington of Indiana. St. Xavier, the top seed in Columbia, Kentucky, meets Cornerstone of Michigan.
In the CCAC tourney, St. Xavier (45-7-1) ended Olivet Nazarene’s 45-game unbeaten streak by winning 5-2, but Olivet Nazarene (46-3-1) came back with a five-run rally to win the final, 7-4.
Billy Wright led off the CCAC tournament championship game with a home run and Judson (42-17) went on to outslug Holy Cross of Indiana 10-6 on Wednesday night. Earlier in the day, Holy Cross (24-33), which came on strong in the tournament, scored four in the 10th inning to beat Judson 7-4 and force an extra game.
Judson claimed an automatic berth in the NAIA tournament, with pairings to be announced Monday. St. Francis (36-20), which was eliminated in the CCAC tournament by Judson 3-2 in 10 innings on Tuesday, also has an automatic berth as the regular-season champion. St. Francis had routed St. Xavier 12-1 earlier on Tuesday.