EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – The final regular season road trip is just ahead for the SIUE softball team with a pair of doubleheaders at Austin Peay and Murray State.
SIUE enters the weekend with a 20-15 record overall and a 10-4 mark in Ohio Valley Conference play. The Cougars face Austin Peay in a 1 p.m. doubleheader Saturday in Clarksville, Tennessee. On Sunday, SIUE travels to Murray State for a 1 p.m. doubleheader with the Racers in Murray, Kentucky.
After being idle since Sunday when SIUE completed seven games in six days, SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery said the Cougars haven't changed much in preparation for this weekend.
"We're trying to getting better," said Montgomery. "We've been practicing hard. Clearly, we've been able to get on the field more in the last two weeks than we have for quite some time. That's been a plus. I think playing is good for us right now."
As a team, SIUE is hitting .298 in OVC games, which is second overall.
Freshman shortstop Alana Cobb-Adams is second among OVC starters in league play with a .459 batting average. Cobb-Adams broke through last week with her first home run along with five doubles as the Cougars finished last week 5-1 in league play.
"All of our freshmen have been up and down," said Montgomery. "They haven't been consistent all year, but they have the ability to be good. Bailley Concatto has been really good throughout the course of the season and has been hitting in the leadoff spot. Alana has been bouncing around a bit in the lineup but she is a kid who wants to learn and loves to play. She never blinks an eye when we ask her to do something. That's where someone in her position is going to continue to get better."
Sophomore right-hander Emily Ingles was named the OVC Pitcher of the Week for the third time this season after collecting four OVC wins and striking out 41 batters last week. She leads the league in wins during OVC play with eight.
"Emily has thrown well," said Montgomery. "She's confident so that's a major plus."
The Cougars will be battling one team in the thick of the OVC race and another looking to make the eight-team tournament field at next month's OVC Championships in Oxford, Alabama.
First-year Head Coach Rodney DeLong has Austin Peay playing well with a 29-15 overall record and a 10-4 mark in OVC play. The Governors are led by Danielle Liermann's .365 batting average. Liermann also is second in the OVC in home runs (15) and RBIs (46).
Morgan Rackel sparks the pitching staff with a 16-6 record overall and a 1.61 earned run average.
"They have a new coach and new players. They have a pitcher who is throwing well," said Montgomery. "Any time somebody comes into a program and turns things around, they have a different mindset. That's always a plus for them."
Murray State, which plays Eastern Illinois Saturday before matching up with the Cougars, holds a 14-30 record and a 4-10 mark in OVC action. The Racers are in need of victories in hopes of joining the OVC Tournament field.
The Racers hold a team earned run average of 3.77 with Haven Campbell holding a 9-9 record and a 2.89 ERA.
Murray State's offense is hitting .253 with Lillie Goetz leading the team with a .321 batting average. Lexi Jones is tops on the team in home runs (7) and RBIs (26).
"They are a good team," noted Montgomery. "They swing the bats. I'll never underestimate that program. They always play hard and are coached well."