By Tim Glon
ADA -- Ohio Northern forced a winner-take-all Game 7 in the 2014 Ohio Athletic Conference Softball Tournament with a pair of victories on Saturday at the ONU Softball Field.
The top-seeded Polar Bears (23-18) and second-seeded Muskingum (25-16) will play for the tournament title and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA III Championships Sunday at Noon.
Northern scored 12 runs in the top of the ninth inning to eliminate fourth-seeded John Carroll 23-11 in Game 5, then got a 4-hitter from freshman Kirsten Burden to down Muskingum 6-1 in Game 6.
The Blue Streaks end their season with a 19-18 record.
Junior Adriana Sikora led off her third consecutive tournament game by scoring a run in the first inning to give ONU a quick 1-0 lead.
Sikora walked and later scored on a double down the left field line by sophomore Amanda Lahti.
John Carroll hit four home runs in the bottom of the third frame to take a 6-2 lead, but ONU Northern would rally.
The Polar Bears answered with a 9-run top of the fifth to go on top 11-6.
Sheridan started the rally by clearing the bases with a double and scored on an error to tie the game at 6-6.
Sikora followed with her 14th home run of the year to give ONU a 10-6 advantage.
Miller then singled and eventually scored on an error to cap the rally and make it 11-6.
The Blue Streaks rallied in the seventh to tie the game at 11-all, but Miller gunned down the would-be winning run at the plate to help ONU out of the 1-out, bases loaded jam.
The Polar Bears emphatically slammed the door on John Carroll, scoring 12 runs in the top of the ninth inning, to go up 23-11.
Senior Carly McKenzie and Sheridan had back-to-back 2-run singles and Westenkirchner followed with a RBI double as ONU went on top 16-11.
Ordean followed with her second RBI single of the day and ONU led 17-11.
Sheridan capped the rally with a 2-run home run.
Burden threw the first 2.2 innings andfinished the game with scoreless eighth and ninth innings to earn the win.
Against the Muskies, Burden threw a 4-hitter to improve to 10-8 on the year, while Sikora and sophomore Tessa Topp each hit home runs for ONU.
Sikora scored in the first inning for the fourth consecutive game, as she led off the bottom of the first with a triple down the right field line and then scored on a single by Miller.
McKenzie then doubled to score Lahti and ONU quickly led 2-0.
Topp's solo home run, her second of the year, gave ONU a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second.
Sheridan and senior Bree Hiteshew had back-to-back RBI singles in the fourth to extend Northern's lead to 5-0.
After the Muskies scored in the top of the sixth to pull within 5-1, Sikora hit her 15th home run of the season to make it a 6-1 game.
Burden then retired the Muskies in order in the seventh to seal the win.