EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – The SIUE softball team won its opening Ohio Valley Conference series of the season after a split Sunday at Cougar Field.
SIUE, which won game two 6-4, is now 18-6 with a 2-1 record in OVC play. Murray State, a 7-2 winner in the opening game Sunday, dropped to 13-7 overall and 1-2 in the OVC.
The Cougars will turn around for a single game Tuesday in nonconference play. SIUE entertains Bradley for a 3 p.m. game at Cougar Field.
SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery said the Cougars did not play up to the standards the team set by winning 16 nonconference games to start the season. The game against the Braves will be important to bridge the gap.
"We need to utilize that game to get back on track for the weekend because we have Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State," said Montgomery. "That will be a tough series on the road."
On Sunday, the Cougars opened the scoring in game one when Brittany Toney drew a bases-loaded walk in the first inning against Murray State starter CheyAnne Gaskey. However, SIUE stranded three runners not only in that first inning but also the third inning.
Murray State didn't tally its first run until the third inning on a solo home run by Alexa Becker. The Racers took the lead in the fourth on another solo homer by Jocelynn Rodgers. Murray State had 13 hits in all and used a four-run rally in the fifth to take a 6-1 lead.
Alex McDavid looked to restart SIUE's offense in the sixth with a solo home run, her second of the year. SIUE would be held to six hits.
Haley Chambers took the loss for SIUE in four innings of work and is now 10-3.
In game two, Murray State looked to keep its momentum with a two-run homer by Cayla Levins in the second inning.
SIUE bounced back with two runs of its own.
"On my first at bat, I was focusing on squaring up the ball and putting it in play just to put pressure on the other team," Eby said.
The Cougars tied the game 2-2 moments later when Brittany Toney scored on an infield out by Haley Adrian.
SIUE freshman pitcher Baylee Douglass earned the victory and is now 7-2.
"Baylee kept them off balance and made some big pitches when she needed," said Montgomery.
Eby said she was excited to have the opportunity to catch Douglass in both players' first league start.
"I love catching Bailey as a pitcher. We have a really nice bond," added Eby.
Adrian added a second RBI in the game to give the Cougars the lead 3-2 in the fourth inning. Keller scored on Adrian's fielder's choice as Murray State's Rodgers was pulled off the plate on the throw by pitcher Mason Robinson.
After Murray State tied the game in the top of the fifth, SIUE rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Keller, Toney, and Eby each had RBIs in the inning. Eby's RBI was a double to center field that scored Allison Smiley.
"I waited for my pitch. It worked out for me," Eby said.
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