EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Both SIUE and UT Martin came away with victories on the opening day of the Ohio Valley Conference softball season.
SIUE, 14-7 overall and 1-1 in the OVC, picked up its seventh straight victory in game one with an 8-6 triumph. UT Martin, 16-8 overall and 1-1 in the OVC, held off the Cougars for a 7-4 win in the nightcap.
The two teams with the best overall records in the OVC gave the fans at Cougar Field two exciting games.
"We knew it was going to be that way going in. There were adverse conditions and lots of intensity," said SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery. Temperatures lingered in the 40s, and the teams endured rain over the final three innings of game two.
The final game of the series is set for 1 p.m. Sunday at Cougar Field.
"I have the utmost confidence in my team. I'm sure we'll be ready to go," said Montgomery.
In game one Saturday, SIUE came back twice against the Skyhawks. UT Martin scored first with a second-inning RBI single from Deven Wilson.
SIUE right fielder Brittany Toney made her birthday a memorable one with a solo home run to center field that tied the score 1-1 in the second inning.
"It was a rope. She hit the ball hard. It got out of here in a hurry," Montgomery said.
The Cougars grabbed a 2-1 lead moments later on an RBI double by Chelsea Yankolovich.
UT Martin scored the bulk of its runs in the fourth with four runs. A two-run single by Leah Taylor gave the Skyhawks a 5-2 lead.
SIUE scored once in the fourth and then tied the game 5-5 in the fifth. Alex McDavid sent a solo home run over the center field fence, and Toney added another RBI on a single.
When UT Martin took the lead in the sixth on a sacrifice fly, SIUE fought back once more.
SIUE lefty Haley Chambers improved her pitching record to 7-2. She struck out seven for the complete-game victory. Morgan Lewis, 0-3, took the loss in relief of Casey Vincent.
In game two, Kenzi Tate held off SIUE's offense until the Cougars scored four times in the sixth. Tate improved her record to 9-1 thanks to a big third inning.
UT Martin's Becca Williams highlighted a five-run third inning with a three-run homer to left field.
SIUE outhit the Skyhawks for the day 21-17.
"We hit the ball hard all day. In the second game, we didn't do anything until the fifth inning. You can't let a team like UT Martin have four innings on you before you decide to swing the bat."