By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Toledo, Ohio---The arm, glove and swing of Brittany George (Elmwood/Wayne, Ohio), as well as the arms of Lesley Ducat (Evergreen/Lyons, Ohio) and Lexi Williams (Home School/Swanton, Ohio) led the No. 12 Owens Community College softball team to a home doubleheader sweep of Cuyahoga Community College today.
In doing so, Owens clinches an outright Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) championship.
Game 1: Owens 6 Cuyahoga 2
The Express jumped out to a 5-0 lead and didn't look back while clinching at least a share of the OCCAC championship in today's first game.
George got the Express offense going in the first inning with an RBI triple to right center. Tori Weidinger (Whitmer/Toledo, Ohio) followed with an RBI double to put the Express up 2-0 through one.
In the third, George struck again with an RBI double to right center to put the Express up 3-0. Later, Aubrey Geis (Toledo Christian/Wauseon, Ohio) delivered a two-run, pinch-hit single to left center in the fourth that padded the lead.
The Challengers answered with two runs off Express starter, Ducat, in in the sixth to cut their deficit to three. Then, in the bottom half, Josie Hall (New London/New London, Ohio) failed to execute a sacrifice bunt, but instead delivered an RBI double to left field that put the Express up 6-2.
Ducat retired the side in order to end the game in the seventh. The final out came on a 3-4-3 groundout.
George finished 2-for-2 with a run, a walk, a double, a triple and two RBIs. Ducat also had two hits while finishing 2-for-3.
Ducat's (15-3) final line included seven innings, a season-high 10 strikeouts, eight hits, two runs and two walks.
On the other side, Ciara Zale (4-7) started and took the loss. She went 3.1 innings and allowed five hits, five runs and four walks. She struck out two. Breane Tobin threw the final 2.2 innings. She allowed three hits, one run and one walk with one strikeout.
The Express had four extra base hits in the game.
In limited action this year, Geis is 5-for-12 (.417) with eight RBIs.
Game 2: Owens 3 Cuyahoga 1
Williams tossed five shutout innings, George smashed her fifth home run of the season and Ducat picked up her first save of the season as the Express clinched an outright conference championship in a 3-1 win.
In the first, the visitors got a one out single and a walk to put runners on first and second. One out later, Jennifer Pierce lined a hard grounder up the middle, but George made a full dive to her left, corraled the ball and flipped to Emily Rockman (Springfield/Holland, Ohio) at second for the final out.
Then, in the bottom half, George blasted a two-out solo shot to left field to put the Express up 1-0 through one. It was her fifth homer of the season and second in two days.
Each team went in order in the second before things got crazy in the third. Cuyahoga loaded the bases with no outs against Williams, but couldn't put across a run. Aubrey Szalay grounded to Rockman at second, who threw home for the first out. Abigail Knechtel grounded to George at short, who threw home for the second out. Pierce then grounded out to Molly Gast (Sylvania Southview/Toledo, Ohio) at first to end the inning.
With her team's 1-0 lead still intact, Rockman doubled to left field with one out in the bottom half of the inning. One out later, George walked to put runners on first and third after Rockman stole third on ball four to George. Weidinger then roped a single through the left side to put the Express up 2-0.
After three quick half innings, the Express plated their third run of the game in the fifth. Rockman and pinch hitter Emily Mutter (Onsted/Manitou Beach, Mich.) got back-to-back one out singles to start the rally. George then grounded a ball up the middle, but it was stopped by Natalie Meyer at second base. She tagged the base at second for the inning's second out, but air mailed the ensuing throw to first - allowing Rockman to score on a sneaky slide past a swipe tag attempt by Cuyahoga's catcher, Mary Gorski.
With a 3-0 lead, Express head coach Duane Lanham brought Ducat in to pitch in relief of Williams to begin the sixth. With two outs, Gorski walked and Heather Swinnerton singled down the right field line, but Ducat got Danielle Dawson to line out to center to end the threat.
Despite a two-out single to left field from Hall in the seventh, the Express couldn't add to their three run lead. Cuyahoga attempted to rally off Ducat in the bottom half thanks to a two-out RBI single down the right field line by Szalay. However, Ducat got a fielder's choice groundout to end the game with the ball, perhaps fittingly, in George's hand at short to end the game.
Rockman and Weidinger each produced two hits in today's second game. Rockman finished 2-for-3 with a double and two runs, while Weidinger was 2-for-2 with an RBI and a walk. George, who went 3-for-4 on the day with two walks, a double, a triple and a homer, finished 1-for-2 with a run, a walk and a homer in the second game.
Aside from those three, Mutter and Hall had the other hits in the nightcap.
Williams (3-3) picked up her third win this year with five innings of three hit, zero run, three walk, three strikeout pitching. She is now 2-0 against Cuyahoga this year.
Ducat picked up her first save of the season with her two innings of relief. She allowed two hits, one run and one walk while striking out one in the game.
Kahla Von Bergen (5-6) took the loss for Cuyahoga. She went the distance, allowing seven hits, three runs (two earned) and two walks while striking out three over six innings.
With their two wins today, the Express improved to 18-6 overall and 8-0 in OCCAC play. Cuyahoga fell to 16-14 overall and 4-6 in OCCAC play. With four games remaining, the Express are at least five games ahead of every other team in the loss column, thus clinching their 11th OCCAC championship in program history.
Cuyahoga won the conference championship last year, which ended a streak of five straight championships for the Express, so today was a small measure of revenge for the program.
With their two extra base hits in the second game, the Express totaled six on the day.
George is now hitting .515 this year with 10 doubles, three triples, five homers and 27 RBIs. She leads the team in runs (30), triples and walks (12), and is second in doubles, homers and RBIs.
The Express will host OCCAC rival Sinclair Community College at 1 p.m. tomorrow. The Tartan Pride dropped a pair of games to the Express earlier this year on April 4.