TROY, Ala. – SIUE softball successfully opened the 2018 season with a pair of victories, blanking Valparaiso 5-0 and downing Alabama State 14-5 in six innings.
The Cougars, 2-0, accumulated 22 hits over the first two games of the Trojan Classic. SIUE returns to action Saturday with two more games scheduled beginning with host Troy at 5 p.m. and Alabama State at 7:30 p.m.
"I thought we played very good defense," said SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery. "We hit with authority and confidence. It was a good way to start the season, no question."
Emily Ingles struck out 12 and scattered five hits in game one. It was the fifth career shutout for the sophomore right-hander.
Ingles got all of the runs she needed from the SIUE offense in the first inning.
Heren, who had been sidelined with an injury during the fall season, also was a force in game two, hitting an inside-the-park home run in the fifth inning.
"I just hit a line drive to the right fielder," explained Heren. "She happened to dive, and the ball went the other way. I'm not sure what happened. I just saw coach's arm keep going in circles, and she sent me home.
"Honestly, just getting back on the field is all I've wanted for the past nine months. Adding five hits today on top of that was just a little bonus. It's not even what matters to me today."
"Heren set the tone in general offensively," said Montgomery. "She came out and was her own self being aggressive at the plate, making things happen and swinging at good counts. It's good to see her get back out there."
"It was a good team effort," said Montgomery. "A lot of kids did a lot of good things, but Heren stood out."
Montgomery praised the Cougar defense, reeling off a number of occurrences when infielders Adrian, Schafer and shortstop Jill Niehaus made fantastic plays.
"We had a lot of good plays defensively," she summarized.
After Ingles captured the victory in game one, Ashley Koziol collected the victory against Alabama State. Freshman Corrina Rivas also saw her first collegiate action with 2 1/3 innings of scoreless softball.
"We pitched really well in game one," said Montgomery. "I thought Corrina threw pretty well out of the bullpen in game two."
"We had a lot of contributors today," added Heren.