By Blake Moore
PLANT CITY, Fla. — Junior catcher/infielder Gabby Stewart (Union, Ky./St. Henry) became the 39th player in Ohio Northern softball history to eclipse the 100 career hit mark Thursday afternoon, leading the Polar Bears in a heartbreaking 10-9 loss to Penn St.-Behrend and a six inning, 14-2 loss to WPI (Mass.) in the 2019 Sunkissed Games.
Stewart paced the Polar Bears offense after finishing five-for-seven on the day, which included a home run, two RBI, and three runs scored. She recorded her 100th career hit with her fourth and final base knock in the opening contest against PSB.
The Union, Kentucky native went on to collect one more hit in the nightcap, giving her 101 career hits to rank 38th all-time in program history.
Additionally, classmate Alicia Swierz (Deerfield/Southeast) had a strong showing at the plate, rattling off four hits in eight plate appearances. She would add two RBI, two runs scored, and a stolen base in the nonconference action.
With Thursday's results, ONU falls to 2-4 on the season.
In game one, Ohio Northern got out to a quick 4-0 advantage after hanging three runs in the top half of the second, which included Stewart's two-RBI round-tripper. However, the Lions did not go down quietly, answering with two runs in the bottom of the third inning to cut the lead in half.
After Northern tacked on three runs in the fourth, the home side came through with an impressive seven-run inning in the fifth, putting the Lions on top for the first time in the contest.
The Polar Bears tied the contest at 9-9 in the sixth inning when Swierz rapped an RBI single to score freshman infielder Hannah Rubel (Swanton/Notre Dame).
In the bottom of the seventh, PSB second baseman Kaylee Bundy kicked off the inning with a resounding triple with the lead stilltied at nine-all. The Lions walked-off with the 10-9 victory on the very next pitch as pinch-hitter Samantha Manioci put the ball in play to bring home the winning run.
During game two, WPI hung three runs on the board in the first inning. Ohio Northern responded well to the early pressure, plating two runs in the home half on Brady Guest (Convoy/Crestview) and Hailee Loughman (Brookville) RBI singles.
From there, the Engineers manufactured one run in the third and five-spots in the fourth and sixth innings. The game ended after six innings due to the NCAA's eight-run rule.
The Polar Bears will return to action tomorrow afternoon when they face area-rival Bluffton at 12:15 p.m. and Simmons (Mass.) at 2:30 p.m.