TIFFIN – For the first time, the Heidelberg University softball lost at Frann's Field – falling 6-3 in Game 6 of the OAC Tournament to Ohio Northern University. The setback forces a winner-take-all Game 7 between the schools on Sunday at noon.
No. 1 seed Heidelberg (29-8) was in control throughout much of the game. In the third, the Student Princes – batting as the visitors -- plated a pair of unearned runs off of ONU starter Kirsten Lightel. An 0-1 pitch nicked off the glove of catcher Amanda Lahti and went to the backstop. As Randi Kelsey slid in, Lahti's throw to the plate got past Lightel covering. The error allowed Hicks to race home, giving The Berg a 2-0 lead in the third.
In the fourth, Heidelberg added another unearned run on an error at third base with the bases loaded.
No. 3 seed Ohio Northern (24-13) was scoreless through five innings against HU starter Paige Atterholt. The sixth inning, however, proved to be Heidelberg's undoing. Megan Hupp doubled to left center to lead off and moved to third on a single to left by Gia Saturday. Lahti atoned for her throwing error with an RBI single past Marissa Smego at first base, plating Hupp, cutting the HU lead to 3-1.
After the next two Polar Bears were retired, pinch hitter Tessa Topp delivered a game-tying double down the left field line. On the next pitch, Jamie Westenkirchner doubled and ONU took the lead. Before Hupp fouled out to end the frame, the Polar Bears scored six times.
Lightel worked a scoreless seventh, her 31st inning of the tournament, and forced Game 7. Lightel, who threw 10 innings in Game 5, struck out three and gave up three hits.
Atterholt (14-3) fanned three and gave up 10 hits – seven of which came in the ill-fated sixth inning.
Heidelberg will be the home team in Sunday's decisive Game 7. The winner of the tournament secures the OAC's automatic qualifier in the NCAA Tournament, which begins next weekend.