May 8, 2011
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville will be the No. 4 seed in its inaugural run through the Ohio Valley Conference softball tournament next week.
The Cougars completed the regular season Sunday with a 4-3 victory over Austin Peay. SIUE improved its season mark to 28-28 overall and 19-11 mark in OVC play.
SIUE will face fifth-seeded Southeast Missouri at 12:30 p.m. Thursday in the opening round of the tournament in Charleston. The other first-round game pits No. 3 seeded UT Martin against No. 6 seed Murray State. No. 2 seeded Jacksonville State will play the winner of the UTM-MSU game at 3 p.m. Top-seeded Eastern Illinois awaits the winner of the SIUE-SEMO game at 5:30 p.m.
"We're happy we made it in our first year in the league," said SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery. "There's a lot of parity in the league so whoever plays well is going to win it."
Sunday also marked the day when Erika Taylor broke the school's career record for strikeouts. The senior right-hander fanned 12 batters and passed Kaitlin Colosimo's 715 for the lead. Taylor now has 724 strikeouts.
"She threw very well yesterday and today," said Montgomery. "Along with the 12 strikeouts, she did not give up a walk. She was throwing hard the last two days. I was proud of her performance."
Taylor collected her 21st win of the season. She gave up five hits to the Governors, which closed out their season with an overall record of 12-38 and a 7-23 mark in league play.
SIUE garnered six hits in the regular season finale and used them efficiently.
Kasey Schlafke doubled home freshman Kayla Riggs to open the scoring in the fourth inning. Schlafke would later score on an error to put SIUE up 2-0. Montgomery said Riggs' single came at a crucial time as SIUE began to score runs. It just underlined what Montgomery has been saying all season. "Whoever is hitting is going to play. If it happens to be a freshman, so be it."
Austin Peay would tie the score in the bottom of the fifth. Jessica Ryan homered to lead off the inning. Lauren deCastro would make it 3-3 with a two-run triple.
SIUE picked up the eventual winning run in the sixth. Samantha Stanicek rapped a base hit down the left field line to score Schlafke from second. APSU pitcher Morgan Brewer took the loss.
"That was crucial," said Montgomery of Stanicek's hit. "Clutch and timely hitting is important this time of the year."