One afternoon...two games...and 42, yes 42 strikeouts

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

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Photo courtesy of St. Xavier University

Nicole Nonnemacher threw 19 innings on Saturday and struck out 42 batters in a pair of extra-inning games at St. Ambrose University.


For some college kids, a text from dad can generate an eye roll.

On Saturday, after close to five hours of work on the mound pitching 19 innings and facing 70 St. Ambrose batters in a double header, St. Xavier University senior Nicole Nonnemacher received a text from her father, Jeff, and her reaction to it was nearly eye-popping.

He was the first to give her the good news.

When the smoke cleared and all the stats were added up and put into the computer, Nicole had struck out 42 batters against SXU’s Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference foes on the sunny but windy and chilly afternoon in Davenport, Iowa.

“I was very surprised,” she said during a phone interview while travelling back to Chicago Saturday night. “He saw it online and texted it to me. He was surprised, too.’’

Nonnemacher not only broke her own school record for strikeouts in a game with 22 in the 3-1, nine-inning opening win, she struck out 20 more in 10 innings of work in a 2-0, 12-inning nightcap victory. Junior Callie Brown pitched the 11th and 12th to earn the victory for the Cougars, who are ranked fourth in the nation.

Meanwhile, Nonnemacher became the first pitcher in NAIA history to strike out 20 or more in back-to-back games.

What made this history even more important was that it came against a strong team that entered the doubleheader with a 20-6 record and won nine of its previous 10 games and was hitting more than .300 during the season.

 “It’s was fun,” she said. “It was definitely stressful, but it was fun. It was nerve-wracking because one swing of the bat could change the game. These games keep us awake and on our toes. You have to be ready every play. It definitely takes a toll on you and your heart. We were all kind of feeling it at the end.”

Former Stagg player Jessica Arebalo singled in two runs in the top of the ninth inning for what turned out to be the winning runs in the first game and Kasey Kananga and Arebalo drove home runs in the top of the 12th for what turned out to be the winning runs in the nightcap.

So what was going right for Nonnemacher?

“They were biting on some pitches and that’s always a good day when that’s happening,’’ she said.

She faced some batters eight and nine times on the afternoon and struck out cleanup hitter Morgan Krieger eight times in nine at-bats. Krieger is no easy out. She came into the game leading the Fighting Bees with six homers and 19 RBI and she owned a .365 average and had struck out just 10 times in per previous 75 at-bats.

“I had to mix up what I was throwing to keep them on their toes,” Nonnemacher said.

The Bloomington native won her 86th game for the Cougars in the opener which breaks the school record previously set by her sister, Megan, from 2011-2014.