Cougars Sweep Past Morehead State
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – It was a walk-off kind of day for SIUE softball.
SIUE, 15-21 overall and 7-8 in the Ohio Valley Conference, swept a doubleheader from Morehead State with a pair of 8-7 victories. Both games were won with walk-off plays. The nightcap was an eight-inning thriller.
The Cougars had heroes abound for the first two games of a three-game set with the Eagles. SIUE and Morehead State meet once more Saturday in a 1 p.m. matchup at Cougar Field.
"We battled today and certainly got two huge wins. I liked that my team battled, and they hit the ball well today," said SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery. It was the first doubleheader sweep for the Cougars this season in OVC play.
SIUE freshman Brittany Toney finished the day 4 for 7 with two home runs and six runs batted in. Both of her home runs came in the first inning of each game.
In the opener, the Cougars took advantage of two Morehead State errors to lengthen the first inning when Toney launched a line drive home run to center field to put SIUE up 4-0.
"That was probably one of the hardest hit balls that have been hit out of this park," Montgomery said.
SIUE would take a 6-1 lead in the third inning on RBI singles by Toney and Samantha Stanicek.
The Eagles, now 10-21 overall and 4-12 in the OVC, got back into the game with some timely hitting of their own. Morehead State tied the score 6-6 in the top of the fifth behind a two-run single by Elizabeth Wagner and an RBI single by Kayla Brill.
Chelsea Yankolovich put SIUE back on top in the bottom of the sixth, singling home Whitney Davis.
Morehead State made it a tie once again in the top of the seventh when Katie Raile doubled home a run after SIUE extended the inning with an infield error.
Errors, however, were much more costly for the Eagles, which had seven in the opener. Toney opened the seventh inning with a single, her third hit of the game. Rebecca Gray followed by reaching on a throwing error by MSU first baseman Amber Riddle. After an infield out, Davis drew a walk to load the bases. Lindsey Barron then put the ball in play to shortstop Kayla Ashbrook whose throw to the plate trying for the forceout was out of the reach of MSU catcher Jamie Massaro, allowing Toney to cross the plate for the game winner.
"We let them back in the ball game way too many times. People stepped up with clutch hitting," said Montgomery.
Amanda Lambrecht picked up the victory for the Cougars and is now 11-8 overall. Kelcey McMurray suffered the loss in relief for Morehead State.
Game two only added to the drama.
Toney belted her second home run of the day to center field, this time a three-run shot that put SIUE up early.
The Cougars gave Lambrecht the starting nod a second straight game. Morehead State attacked for one run in the second and a four-run rally in the third to take a 5-3 lead.
Montgomery went to the bullpen after the third inning for Gray. The freshman would end up earning her first collegiate victory by striking out six in her five innings of work.
"That was huge for her and her confidence. She threw well today. She was spotting pitches and had command. She got her changeup over. She kept them off balance. We're certainly very happy that she got her first collegiate win as a pitcher even though I recruited her as an outfielder," Montgomery said.
SIUE found some urgency with Gray in the pitcher's circle. After Morehead State extended its lead to 6-3, the Cougars would tie the game in the bottom of the sixth.
Jill Rackers opened the inning with a bunt single. She scored on a double by Yankolovich, who would be thrown out trying to reach third base on the play. With the bases cleared, McDavid restarted the rally with a single. Brianna Fulginiti came up with a big single to right center. McDavid moved over to third on the play, and Fulginiti safely advanced to second on the throw from right field.
Taylor Tooley picked up an RBI with a sacrifice fly to score McDavid, and Rachel Coonrod made it a tie with an RBI single through the right side.
Morehead State would regain the lead in the top of the eighth against Gray. Stephanie Etter scored from first after Elizabeth Wagner's sacrifice bunt was misplayed. Stanicek's hustled from behind the plate but her throw was just out of the reach of second baseman Tooley who was covering the play at first. The ball got away from Tooley, and Etter scurried home to give Morehead State a 7-6 lead.
Tooley and Stanicek would provide the big hits in the bottom of the eighth. Tooley's single up the middle plated McDavid, who led off the inning with a walk off Morehead State reliever and eventual losing pitcher Ashley Imperial.
Morehead State went to its bullpen a second time for McMurray just after Tooley's hit. Coonrod loaded the bases with a walk. For this walk-off winner, Stanicek lined a base hit through the left side.
"I was happy for Sammy to get that hit to win the game," Montgomery added.