By Blake Moore
ADA — The Ohio Northern softball program celebrated Senior Day 2019 in style Saturday afternoon, stretching their current win streak to 10 consecutive contests with a 3-1 and 23-3 (F/5) sweep over Ohio Athletic Conference foe John Carroll at the ONU Softball Field in Ada.
With the victories, the Polar Bears improve to 17-9 overall and 11-1 in conference action this year. In addition, Ohio Northern now owns a two-game lead in the OAC regular season standings with just two weeks remaining.
The Blue Streaks dropped to 12-20 overall and 2-10 in league play.
Prior to Saturday's contests, senior pitcher Kaitlin Surdej (Lancaster, N.Y./Central) and senior infielder Hailee Loughman (Brookville) were honored for their hard work and dedication to the program over the past four seasons.
On the field, both seniors had strong performances to help guide ONU to its fifth consecutive sweep in the past two weeks.
Surdej tossed a complete game victory in the opener, surrendering just one run on seven hits in the contest with two strikeouts. She now owns 306 career strikeouts and 43 career wins, which rank third and fourth all-time in program history, respectively.
Meanwhile, Loughman finished the afternoon four-for-six at the plate with two walks, two RBI, and three runs scored to her credit. She now owns 123 career hits to tie for 24th on the all-time hit list at Ohio Northern.
On the day, freshman Rachel Hish (Gainesville, Va./Patriot) led the team with five hits in eight official at-bats from the leadoff position. She added a team-high five runs scored and chipped in an RBI to the offensive showcase.
Meanwhile, freshmen Hannah Rubel (Swanton/Notre Dame) and Marissa Cilluffo (Macomb, Mich./Eisenhower) each contributed a team-best four RBI in Saturday's contests. The former went two-for-six on the afternoon while the latter launched a grand slam home run in her lone at-bat after pinch-hitting in the fourth frame during game two.
In game one, the Polar Bears got on the board in the third inning following a John Carroll fielding miscue. Hish laid down a sacrifice bunt, but JCU pitcher Jenn Patterson overthrew first base, bringing home junior Jordan Cloonan (Kirtland, Cornerstone Christian).
Later, ONU expanded its lead to 3-0 when junior catcher Gabby Stewart (Union, Ky./St. Henry) laced a two-RBI single into center field.
The Blue Streaks attempted a late rally after scoring once in the sixth inning and loading the bases in the seventh frame. However, Surdej induced two infield pop-ups to hang on for the 3-1 victory.
During game, two, John Carroll slipped out to an early 3-1 advantage after their first two at-bats. The Blue Streaks posted two runs in the first and added a third on a solo home run in the second.
The Polar Bear offense roared to life in the bottom of the second inning, hanging nine runs on nine hits and one JCU error. Northern went on to score six runs in the third and seven more in the fourth frame.
Game two ended in five innings due to the NCAA's eight-run rule.
Overall, the Polar Bears out-scored John Carroll 26-4 and out-hit the Blue Streaks 30-17.
Ohio Northern will return to action on Monday with a nonconference doubleheader at Wittenberg. Game one is slated for a 3 p.m. first pitch.