By Blake Moore
ADA — Two strong pitching performances from senior Kaitlin Surdej (Lancaster, N.Y./Central) and freshman Maddie Anderson (Akron/Ellet) and five multi-hit outings for the Polar Bear offense guided the Ohio Northern softball program to a critical 6-4 and 2-1 sweep over No. 24-ranked Baldwin Wallace Wednesday afternoon at the ONU Softball Field.
With the victories, ONU improves to 15-9 overall this season and extends their current win streak to eight games. More importantly, the Polar Bears take sole possession of first place in the Ohio Athletic Conference with a 9-1 league mark.
Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets fall to 25-5 overall and 7-3 in conference play.
After posting an immaculate 5-0 record last week, Surdej continued to dominate in the circle with a victory in game one and a save in Wednesday's nightcap. The senior tossed 7.1 innings, struck out three batters, and surrendered four runs with just three earned.
Anderson was equally impressive, giving up just one earned run on four hits in 6.1 innings to tally the victory. The freshman also added two strikeouts to her final stat line.
At the plate, senior infielder Hailee Loughman (Brookville) paced the ONU offense with a four-for-seven performance, which included an RBI and two runs scored.
Overall, the Polar Bear offense out-hit Baldwin Wallace 14-12 on the day.
In game one, the Yellow Jackets claimed the early 1-0 lead in the second inning when Alex Kozich belted a solo home run over the left field fence.
However, the Polar Bears capitalized on a Loughman single and back-to-back BW miscues on sacrifice bunts to start the second frame. With the bases loaded, Elliott brought home a run after being hit by a pitch and Rubel recorded an RBI groundout to take their first lead. Moments later, junior Alicia Swierz (Deerfield/Southeast) raced home on a wild pitch, giving ONU a 3-1 advantage.
Baldwin Wallace leveled the scoreline at 3-3 in the third inning on an RBI single and a Northern throwing error.
The Ohio Northern offense continued to roll in the home half of the third inning, scoring three more times for an insurmountable 6-3 edge. Elliott drew a walk with the bases loaded to take the lead before Rubel recorded an RBI single and junior Jordan Cloonan (Kirtland/Cornerstone Christian) added a sacrifice fly.
BW added one more in the seventh inning with two outs on their second solo home run Wednesday afternoon, but Surdej induced a game-ending ground out to secure the 6-4 win in the opener.
During the nightcap, both sides were scoreless until the fifth inning when ONU hung two on the ONU Softball Field scoreboard. Following a fielding error at first base, reigning OAC Hitter of the Week Gabby Stewart (Union, Ky./St. Henry) and Loughman produced timely two-out RBI singles for the 2-0 edge.
Once again, the Yellow Jackets attempted a late seventh-inning rally with a solo home run from Mackenzie Milligan, but Anderson and Surdej stranded the tying run.
Ohio Northern will return to action on Saturday, April 13 when they wrap up a four-game home stand with a visit from John Carroll. Game one is slated for a 1 p.m. first pitch at the ONU Softball Field in Ada.