TUCSON, Ariz. - It took just 11 games in his 18th season as the head coach of the Olivet Nazarene University softball team for Ritchie Richardson to win his 800th game. The Tigers (10-1) wasted little time in helping their skipper reach the milestone, downing Valley City State University (N.D.) 9-1 in six innings on Friday, March 8. Richardson is currently the second winningest active coach in the NAIA with an overall record of 800-280.
No. 12 Olivet has seen quite a lot of success on their spring trip to the Tuscon Invitational. The Tigers opened play on Monday, March 4 with two nationally ranked teams. Olivet opened the season with a 2-1 win over Madonna University (Mich.) who was receiving votes in the pre-season NAIA Coaches Poll. They then suffered their lone loss of the season, an 11-10 loss to No. 22 William Penn University (Iowa). Freshman Katie Megyesi (Washington, Ill. ) produced the game winning RBI in the opener, scoring junior Cheryl Sendzik (Mokena, Ill.) who opened up the sixth inning with a single. In the night-cap, Sendzik went 3-for-5 at the plate, including a double, while sophomore Jordy Truelock (Princeton, Ind.) went 2-for-4 with a double.
Since the opening day loss, the Tigers have put together a nine game winning streak. Olivet's bats adjusted to the time difference on Tuesday, March 5 when they produced 13 hits against Siena Heights University (Mich.) coming away with a 9-1 victory. Six Tigers finished the game with multiple hits. In the 4-1 win over Ashford University (Iowa), Olivet was led by junior Justine Phillips (Metamora, Ill.), junior Hannah Gardner (Frankfort, Ill.) and sophomore Megan Bulter (Frankfort, Ill.) who produced two hits apiece.
The Tiger added three more wins on Wednesday, March 6 while playing a total of 15 innings. Olivet opened the day with an 11-1 five inning win over Viterbo University (Wisc.) which was highlighted by a five run fourth inning which included five singles, one hit-by-pitch and two walks. The Tigers then wasted little time jumping out to an early lead against Aquinas College (Mich.), racking up nine runs on eight hits in the first inning. The 13 batter inning included a triple by Truelock and a double by Butler. In Wednesday's night cap win over Peru State College (Neb.), Olivet was led by sophomore Erika Tatum (Bourbonnais, Ill.) who went 3-for-4 at the plate with five RBIs.
Olivet opened play on Thursday, March 7 with a 10-inning 11-10 come from behind win over Northwestern College (Iowa). The Tigers were led by Phillips who ended the game 5-for-6 at the plate. Olivet then faced William Penn again, this time coming away with a 11-0 five inning win. The Tigers finished the game with just seven hits, but were helped out by 10 errors by the Statesmen.