EDWARDSVILLE - SIUE softball closed out the 2024 Cougar Invite with the final two games of the 12-game tournament Sunday, defeating Creighton 5-2 and dropping an eight-inning decision to Loyola 8-7.

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"I'm really proud of how the team responded after a tough day yesterday," said SIUE Head Coach Ben Sorden. "I thought they battled in the Loyola game. We just came up a little short at the end."

SIUE finished the weekend with a 2-3 record and now stand 8-10 heading into the Ohio Valley Conference regular season. The Cougars begin league play next weekend at Lindenwood.

The Cougars jumped ahead in the Creighton game with a three-run rally in the second inning. Emma Henderson scored on a wild pitch. Piper Montgomery walked and scored. Kaylynn Salyers also walked and scored. Amber Morgan, making her first start of the season, added an RBI single.

SIUE would never trail, adding an RBI double fro Paige Rocha in the fourth and a sacrifice fly from Montgomery in the fifth.

"In the Creighton game, we played clean defense," said Sorden.

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The clean defense behind SIUE pitcher Kelsey Ray helped the Cougar right-hander to a complete game. She struck out one and scattered six hits.

"I thought Kelsey Ray was phenomenal all weekend," added Sorden.

The final game of the tournament turned out to be the one that kept people on the edge of their seats.

Loyola, 8-8, smacked a grand slam in the first inning by Teagan Sopczak.

But the Cougars stormed back with one in the first and then tied the game 5-5 with a four-run rally of their own in the fourth. RBI doubles by Grace Lueke and Montgomery highlighted the inning.

SIUE took a 7-6 lead in the fifth led by three straight hits by Jenna Herron, Lauren Yslava and Harley Limberger.

Loyola tied the game in the sixth and added the game winner in extra innings on a sacrifice fly by Sydney Barnett.

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