Rebecca Gray

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – The final tune-up before the Ohio Valley Conference season opens has the SIUE softball team heading to Florida.

"We're playing seven games in five days," said SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery. "Any time you have an extended trip like that, it's a challenge."

The Cougars also will be in two different cities during the trip.

SIUE starts in Tampa, Florida, with five games. On Friday, the Cougars face Villanova at 3:15 p.m. CT and Georgetown at 5 p.m. CT. The schedule for Saturday includes Seton Hall at 12:45 p.m. CT and North Florida at 3:15 p.m. CT. On Sunday, the Cougars take on Bowling Green at 8 a.m. CT.

The trip continues to Ft. Myers, Florida, for a pair of games Tuesday. SIUE faces Pittsburgh at 1:30 p.m. and Florida Gulf Coast at 6 p.m.

"We will not overlook anyone. They all have strengths and weaknesses," said Montgomery.

The Cougars, 10-4, have demonstrated they are not a team to be overlooked.

"We are playing with a lot of confidence," said Montgomery. "We've had good pitching and good hitting."

One spot SIUE has excelled in the early-going has been in the first two innings. SIUE has outscored its opponents 33-7 in the first two innings of games this season.

"It's a lot easier to go out there and pitch in the first inning when you are ahead," said Montgomery.

SIUE pitching holds a 2.28 earned run average with 108 strikeouts in 89 innings pitched. Haley Chambers leads the Cougars with a 6-2 record. Freshman Baylee Douglass is 3-1 with two saves.

Chambers also leads the team in batting average with a .432 average. She has four home runs and 11 runs batted in. Rachel Keller, Rebecca Gray, and Jordan LaFavealso are batting better than .300.

After the Florida trip, the Ohio Valley Conference season gets underway. SIUE entertains Murray State for a three-game series. The 1 p.m. doubleheader March 14 starts the series with the finale set for 1 p.m. March 15.

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