AUBURN, Ala. – SIUE went eight innings Thursday with No. 2 Auburn, but the host Tigers walked off with a 4-3 victory at Jane B. Moore Field.
SIUE, 5-1, challenged the defending national runner-up in front of 1,886 fans by coming from behind against the Tigers, now 4-1.
"It was a well-played game," said SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery. "The kids played well. They played with poise. That's a huge game for us this early in the year."
The Cougars and the Tigers will have a rematch Friday in SIUE's opening game of the Plainsman Invitational. Game time is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. and precedes a single game against Evansville.
Auburn's Carmyn Greenwood recorded the walk-off hit to right field, scoring pinch runner Bree Fornis in the bottom of the eighth. Still, the game had a postseason feel to it for the Cougars.
SIUE fell behind early when SIUE starter Haley Chambers-Book walked the first batter of the game and then a two-run home run to Carlee Wallace.
The Cougars certainly didn't sit back and let the game get away. Chambers-Book used her bat to cut the lead to 2-1 in the third. The senior left-hander slashed an infield hit that allowed Paige Clinton to score from third.
Auburn, playing in its season home opener, responded in the fourth inning with a solo home run by Kendall Veach to make the lead 3-1.
But don't count the Cougars out just yet.
"This team has great leadership, poise and confidence, even from our young kids," said Montgomery.
Reagan Curtis, a freshman, drew a two-out walk off Auburn starter Makayla Martin. Tess Eby then singled to center and advanced to second on a misplayed ball by Auburn center fielder Victoria Draper. Curtis sprinted around the bases to cut the lead to 3-2.
Senior Allison Smiley then extended her hitting streak to six games with a bouncer over the third baseman and the shortstop into left field. Eby scored with no tag applied at the plate on the throw from left field.
"We were right there the whole game," said Smiley. "Our lineup swings the bat with confidence."
Chambers-Book took the loss and is now 3-1. She struck out seven. Kaylee Carlson threw the final two innings for the Tigers and improved to 2-0.