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Cougars Gain Sweep on Opening Day

Kalei Kaneshiro
Kalei Kaneshiro

MONROE, La. – SIUE softball was victorious twice Friday on opening day of the 2017 season, earning a five-inning, 10-2 triumph over Grambling and a 4-1 win over Northwestern State.

"There's certainly a lot of things to build on," said SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery. "I'm very happy with it. For opening day, I thought we played well."

SIUE continues the Mardi Gras Classic Saturday with two more games, facing Prairie View at 1 p.m. and host Louisiana Monroe at 7 p.m.

The Cougar offense roughed up opponent pitching for 14 runs on 14 hits.

Freshman Kalei Kaneshiro made her collegiate debut with a start at third base. The right-handed hitter blasted a solo home run against Northwestern State.

Kaneshiro, who also had an RBI in game one, was excited for first official game as a Cougar. The Pearl City, Hawaii, native already knows she has to work hard to even be in SIUE's lineup.

"There is a lot of talent on this team and a lot of competition," she said. "My coaches always say that opportunities are won at practice."

Allison Smiley led SIUE with three hits while Kaneshiro, Zoe Schafer, Alyssa Heren and Haley Chambers-Book each had two for the day.

SIUE erupted for six runs in the third and four runs in the fourth against Grambling. Kaneshiro, batting seventh in the lineup, ripped the first hit of the season with a double to right field in the second inning.

"It took us a while to get going in the game against Grambling," noted Montgomery.

Cougar pitchers Ashley Koziol and Haley Chambers both struck out 11 batters in their respective games. Koziol had a no-hitter in the fifth inning against Grambling.

"Overall, I thought she pitched well. She threw hard and played with a lot of confidence," said Montgomery.

Chambers inched her way to the school record for career strikeouts. She needs four more to pass Erika Taylor (2008-11) who finished her collegiate career with 737 strikeouts.

"I was very happy with our pitching," said Montgomery.

In the Northwestern State game, SIUE's offense scored single tallies in the first two innings. Tess Eby hit a sacrifice fly to drive home Heren in the first inning. Sarah Lopesilvero added an RBI single in the second.

Schafer recorded her second RBI of the day in the fifth inning. Kaneshiro's home run capped the scoring in the sixth.

"We did a nice job of adjusting and doing the things we asked them to do," said Montgomery. "When we are focused and making adjustments at the plate, we're going to be able to make some things happen."

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