EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE and Illinois will meet for the first time ever Wednesday in softball as the two teams matchup at Eichelberger Field in Champaign. Game time is 5 p.m.
SIUE enters the contest with a 32-7 record. Illinois boasts a 27-10 mark. Both teams have a winning streak with SIUE at five and Illinois at three.
The game features a pair of teams with clear strengths as noted by their NCAA Division I rankings.
The Cougars are 21st nationally in earned run average at 1.79. Haley Chambers-Book is a 19-game winner for SIUE and has eight shutouts. The Cougar left-hander has been named the Ohio Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week in each of the last three weeks.
SIUE also is ranked seventh in the country among Division I schools in fielding percentage at .979.
The Fighting Illini have one of the top offenses in the country with a .322 team batting average, which is 20th nationally. Illinois is averaging nearly 6.2 runs per game, which is 18th in the NCAA. Nicole Evans is the team's top hitter at .394.
Both teams are near the top of their respective conferences. The Cougars are second in the OVC with an 8-2 record. The Illini are tied for third at 7-2.
Wednesday's contest also is an opportunity for both programs to play a team ranked in the top 50 in the RPI. Illinois is ranked 25th in the RPI as the third highest-ranked team in the Big Ten. SIUE is ranked 41st in the RPI as the top-ranked team in the OVC.
SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery said she is aiming to have her team play at a high level every game.
"It's a matter of playing consistent and playing at the level we are capable of playing," said Montgomery. "That's what I want to see on a regular basis.
"If you're going to try to win a championship, you've got to continue to get better," she added. "It's my job to get the kids to see that and recognize the things we need to do to get better."