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SIUE Opens Baylor Invitational With Win

Alyssa Heren
Alyssa Heren

WACO, Texas – SIUE softball collected nine hits in its ninth win of the season, an 8-6 victory over St. Francis in the opening game of the Baylor Invitational.

The Cougars are now 9-3 after an afternoon matchup against No. 24 Baylor in which the Bears defeated SIUE 4-0.

SIUE next faces UMass in a 12:30 p.m. contest Saturday. After the UMass game, the tournament moves to a bracket format. The Cougars either will play in the 3 p.m. game or the 5:30 p.m. game Saturday.

Sunday's finale in the tournament is scheduled for either 9:30 a.m. or noon pending the outcome of Saturday's second game.

In Friday's opener, SIUE cruised out to a 5-0 lead in the first two innings. Alyssa Heren led the charge with a double and finished the game with three hits.

"As the leadoff batter, I set the tone for the game," said Heren. "Being able to get a hit, let alone a double, was huge for us momentum-wise."

SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery said she pleased to see Heren get the Cougars off to a good start after having just one hit last weekend at Auburn.

"I was glad to see her hit, and Zoe Schafer had a good day at the plate as well," said Montgomery.

After a sacrifice bunt by Haley Chambers-Book, Schafer put the Cougars on the scoreboard with an RBI single through the left side of the infield. Schafer had a team-leading four hits for the day.

"She (Schafer) is a pure hitter, and a pure hitter wants to hit," said Montgomery. "She's going to get challenged daily, and I think that's important for her progress."

After Reagan Curtis was hit by a pitch, Allison Smiley doubled home both Haley Adrian, pinch running for Schafer, and Curtis.

"She (Smiley) is mature and poised," said Montgomery. "She is being a true senior captain for us right now." Smiley leads the team with 16 runs batted in.

After the Cougars added two runs in the second, St. Francis pushed back with three runs in the third off SIUE starter Emily Ingles and three more in the fifth off eventual winner Ashley Koziol.

"Luckily we battled back offensively and got the job done," said Montgomery.

SIUE third baseman Kalei Kaneshiro blasted her second home run of the season to open the bottom of the fifth. Conner Cutright added an RBI single for an insurance run.

"She (Kaneshiro) is swinging the bat well. She's continue to get better," added Montgomery.

Chambers-Book closed out the last four outs of the game with four strikeouts, earning her first save of the season.

In the Baylor game, SIUE managed four hits, including two from Schafer.

The Bears, now 10-3, had just one inning of offense but used it effectively, scoring four times in the third inning.

Chambers-Book took the loss and is now 5-2. She struck out three and did not walk a batter.

"She didn't throw her best but she threw well," said Montgomery.

Montgomery and the Cougars left disappointed.

"We didn't play with a lot of intensity. We didn't compete as hard as I think we are capable of, and you're playing a top 25 team," said Montgomery.

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