Feb. 18, 2010
JACKSONVILLE, Ala. - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville rallied to score three runs in the eighth Thursday for a 5-2 triumph at Jacksonville State in college softball.
SIUE, 2-2, took the game to extra innings with a crucial two-run homer by Taylor Tooley in the top of the seventh.
"This was a big win for sure," said SIUE Coach Sandy Montgomery.
Jacksonville State, the clear favorite to win the Ohio Valley Conference this season, suffered its first loss of the season and is now 2-1. The Gamecocks are receiving votes in NCAA Division I softball polls.
SIUE hurler Erika Taylor turned in an outstanding performance with 12 strikeouts in the complete-game victory. Taylor gave up just three hits and improved to 2-1 for the season.
"She threw very well today. She challenged the hitters," said Montgomery.
Neither team scored until the fifth when Jacksonville State's Chrissy O'Neal doubled home Mary Beth Leadbetter, who had reached base despite being struck out by Taylor.
The Gamecocks made it 2-0 in the sixth when Sallie Beth Burch connected for a two-out double. She would score on an outfield error by SIUE center fielder Chaleen Rumpf.
Montgomery said Jacksonville State took advantage of SIUE mistakes for its two runs. The Cougars had the opportunity to get down or get back in the game, said Montgomery.
SIUE chose to get back in the game.
In the top of the seventh, Rumpf reached base on a throwing error by starting pitcher Aliasson Eliasson with one out. Tooley, a freshman, then rapped her first career home run with a blast to left field on a 1-0 pitch.
"They were trying to ahead of the hitters all game. She (Tooley) hit that ball extremely hard," said Montgomery.
The momentum shifted, and the Cougars were the ones taking advantage of opportunities. "That changed the game and gave us confidence," Montgomery said.
Taylor would send Jacksonville State down in order in the seventh, taking the game to extra innings.
Lindsay Barron would open up the eighth inning for the Cougars with a base hit to left. Kasey Schlafke followed with a sacrifice bunt that was mishandled by Eliasson. Barron would advance to third. Lauren Zembruski then put SIUE ahead for good on a sacrifice fly to center that scored Barron.
Tooley would add another RBI single, and the Cougars would use another infield error to score once more. "You have to capitalize on the other team's mistakes, and we did," said Montgomery.
"They came in and took some good hacks," Montgomery added of her team. "It gives us confidence going into the weekend."
SIUE next heads back to Alabama for the Auburn Invitational. The Cougars start tomorrow with a 3 p.m. game against Ohio. SIUE faces Nebraska and Ohio on Saturday as well as Central Michigan and host Auburn on Sunday.