CHARLESTON, Ill. – Senior catcher Samantha Stanicek blasted a home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to lift SIUE softball to a 4-3 victory over Tennessee Tech in the opening round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
Stanicek sent SIUE into the record books with the Cougars' first-ever victory in the OVC Tournament. The Cougars move to the semifinals of the winner's bracket to play sixth-seeded Jacksonville State. Game time Thursday will be 12:30 p.m. and will be carried on WSIE FM 88.7 and www.siuecougarnetwork.com.
SIUE improved to 35-11 with Wednesday's win over the Golden Eagles.
With the game tied 3-3 going into the bottom of the sixth, Stanicek led off the inning. She took a 2-1 pitch from Claudia Harke over the fence in left center for her sixth home run of the season.
"I wasn't even trying to hit a home run," said Stanicek." I just wanted to get a hit and start that inning off."
SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery said that is what she expects from her senior.
"She was 3 for 3 on the day and was just outstanding. That's what your senior leader is supposed to do and she certainly stepped up big," Montgomery said.
"The last inning was all (Greenwalt)," said Montgomery. "She is a very competitive individual. I'm proud of her being able to come in and be clutch in that situation."
Tennessee Tech, 22-27, moves to the consolation bracket for a 10 a.m. elimination game Thursday. The Eagles will play third-seeded Eastern Kentucky which lost 5-3 to Jacksonville State.
The Golden Eagles scored first against the Cougars.
Melody Christian singled home Hannah Eldridge in the third inning. Eldridge led off the inning with a double.
SIUE added a single tally in the fourth on back-to-back hits by Stanicek and Chambers and an infield out by Kayla Riggs. Chambers, the OVC Freshman of the Year, collided with TTU second baseman Courtney Fry on her single. Chambers left for a pinch runner and then threw to two hitters in the top of the fifth before coming out of the game.
"You have to make your own breaks," said Montgomery. "The way you do that is to stay positive, be tough and keep at it. You have to play hard."
Tennessee Tech tied the game in the fourth on a home run by Angi Sakamoto. The Golden Eagles took advantage of an outfield error as Christian scored an unearned run off Greenwalt to even the score 3-3.
That led to Stanicek's homer in the sixth. The Cougar senior said she was excited to play on a sunny day at Williams Field after being sidelined by poor weather conditions.
"How do you not get up when you are in the conference tournament?" Stanicek said.