St. Xavier needed to win five games to take the CCAC title. SXU photo

St. Xavier needed to win five games to take the CCAC title. SXU photo

Baseball and Softball Wrap | Saint Xavier baseball and softball headed to national tourneys

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By Jeff Vorva
Staff writer

The Saint Xavier baseball team began the season in early February by losing its first five games.

The Cougars, however, finished the regular season 5-0 and are heading to the national tournament.

Saint Xavier roller-coastered through the regular season and dug themselves a hole in the double-elimination Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament and, throughout all of that, still came out conference champions.

After splitting their first two games of the tournament, the Cougars (31-25) won five straight to claim the title and the right to play in the Opening Round of the NAIA Baseball World Series. The first win during that streak was a 9-6 triumph over Trinity Christian.

SXU picked up the No. 5 seed in the five-team Georgia Gwinnett bracket for the NAIA Opening Round Tournament and was scheduled to play fourth-seeded Midway University (27-22) on May 15 at the Grizzly Baseball Complex in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

To get to this point, sophomore Nico Saldias struck out 11 hitters in a 7-1 victory over Indiana-South Bend on May 9 at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet.

It’s just the second CCAC Tournament championship for the Cougars, the first one coming in 2016.

The Cougars scored five runs in the top of the first to give Saldias (5-4) all the run support he would need.

Sophomore outfielder Kevin Dowling, a Mount Carmel graduate, was 3-for-5 with two runs while Evergreen Park alum Declan Smyth had two RBI and scored twice.

To get to the final game, the Cougars needed Mann to be the man. They played two games on May 8, with Heath Mann winning both games in relief as they beat Roosevelt, 7-4, and South Bend, 4-2.

Mann, a freshman from Ohio, pitched 3 2/3 innings of relief in both games and improved his record to 3-1. He didn’t allow a baserunner in either appearance and struck out eight total hitters.

Smyth was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a double and an RBI in the first win.

Patrick Hayes, who played at Brother Rice and Moraine Valley, had two hits, an RBI, a run and a stolen base in the second game.

 

Headed for the Falls
The Saint Xavier softball team was scheduled to play in a four-team double-elimination tournament in the opening round of the NAIA Softball World Series in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

The Cougars (34-12) drew the fourth seed and was scheduled to play top-seeded Oregon Tech on May 15. Tech headed into the tournament ranked No. 1 in the nation in the final NAIA coaches poll.

Northwestern (Iowa) and Embry-Riddle (Arizona) are the other two teams in Klamath Falls. The winner goes to the World Series tournament scheduled to begin May 25 in Columbus, Georgia.

 

Baseball seeds sowed
Several area high school teams picked up high seeds in the IHSA baseball sectionals.

At the 17-team Class 4A Sectional, Lyons picked up the top seed while St. Rita was seeded third, Brother Rice fourth and Mount Carmel fifth.

The Class 3A Marist Sectional is a powerhouse as defending champion Nazareth drew the No. 1 seed with St. Laurence second and Marist fourth.

At Brooks, De La Salle nabbed the second seed.

In Class 2A, Chicago Christian drew the sub-sectional B top seed at the Joliet Catholic Academy Sectional.

Class 2A regionals were scheduled to start May 15 and Class 3A and 4A are scheduled to begin on May 22.

 

Softball seeds sowed

The area softball scene is also well represented with high postseason seeds.

At the Class 4A Marist Sectional, the hosts drew the top seed, Riverside-Brookfield is third and Mother McAuley fifth.

In the Class 3A Nazareth Sectional, St. Laurence is the top seed, Evergreen Park is second, Richards third, Nazareth fourth and De La Salle fifth.

Class 3A and 4A regionals are slated to begin May 22.

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