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SIUE Softball Clinches OVC Regular Season

SIUE will be the No. 1 seed for the OVC Tournament
SIUE will be the No. 1 seed for the OVC Tournament

CHARLESTON, Ill. – The SIUE softball team clinched the best record during the 2015 Ohio Valley Conference regular season and will be the host for the league tournament next week at Cougar Field.

SIUE, 20-5 in OVC play and 39-13 overall, bested Eastern Illinois 7-2 in the first game of a doubleheader at Williams Field. The Panthers won the nightcap Saturday 4-3.

As the regular season champion, SIUE will be the No. 1 seed for the eight-team, double-elimination tournament that starts Wednesday at Cougar Field. The complete eight-team field and game times will be announced Sunday after the conclusion of the league regular season schedule.

 "There no doubt that's awesome," said SIUE first baseman Rachel Keller. "Getting that first win and winning the regular season is big. I'm glad to be a part of it."

In game one, Haley Chambers went the distance for the Cougars and improved to an OVC-best 22-5 record. The left-handed junior struck out 16 batters.

"That was outstanding," said SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery. "She was throwing well and had command of her pitches."

The Cougars left little doubt Saturday in controlling their own destiny as the top seed by scoring six runs in the first inning against the Panthers. SIUE took advantage of two early errors that led to RBI singles by Keller and Tess Eby.

Keller went toe to toe with EIU starting pitcher Jessica Wireman, pushing the count to 3-2 after fighting off some pitches for foul balls.

"Finally I got one I could drive," Keller said.

Jordan LaFave capped the first inning with a two-run double down the left field line as SIUE sent 10 batters to the plate in the opening inning. LaFave raised her batting average to .321 this season.

Allison Smiley added an RBI single in the fourth inning that put the Cougars up 7-0.

EIU, 19-25 overall and 13-11 in the OVC, scored its only runs in the bottom of the fifth on RBI singles by Katie Watson and April Markowski.

In game two, SIUE nearly came from behind in the top of the seventh. Down 4-2, Alex McDavid led off the seventh with a single and scored on a base hit to left field by Chambers.

EIU's Michelle Rogers held off the Cougars for the pitching victory, allowing five hits and striking out two.

Baylee Douglass took the loss and is now 16-7. She struck out six over her six innings of work.

The two teams play the rubber game of the series Sunday at noon.

NOTES:

The 20 wins in conference play are the most by an SIUE team.

SIUE needs one more win for 40 victories. The last time SIUE had 40 wins in a season was 2008 during the transition to NCAA Division I status.

Chambers' 16 strikeouts was the 13th time this season she has recorded 10 or more strikeouts in a game. He season best was 20 in a perfect game against Morehead State.

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