EDWARDSVILLE — The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville softball tea blasted four home runs Friday, including a pair of grand slams, en route to a doubleheader sweep at Southeast Missouri.
The Cougars clipped the Redhawks 13-0 in five innings in game one and gained the sweep with an 11-1 win in six innings during the nightcap.
SIUE, winners of 14 of its last 16 games, improved to 21-8 overall and 6-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Cougars play Southeast Missouri, now 10-17 and 3-4 in the OVC, in a single game to close out the series at 1 p.m. Saturday.
With 24 runs on 25 hits for the day, SIUE's bats were Cougar red hot all day.
"They've really bought into the hitting philosophy," said SIUE coach Sandy Montgomery. "Coach (Buddy) Foster has been hammering it to them all year. When we need clutch hits, they lock in and we have big innings." SIUE had a pair of six-run rallies in game one and a nine-run rally in game two.
Perhaps no one's bat was as hot as right fielder Brittany Toney. She blasted two solo home runs in the first game. The sophomore ended the day 6 for 6 with four extra base hits and a staggering 2.333 slugging percentage.
Toney said the weather had kept the team from practicing outdoors for most of the week. That made her anxious for this series.
"I was extremely excited to get out there and play today, and this was a big game for us," Toney said. "Once I started rolling, I kept going after that."
"She was one fire - absolutely on fire," said Montgomery. "She made them pay every time."
Taylor Tooley and Kayla Riggs each launched grand slams in game one. Tooley's blast was in the six-run fourth inning. Riggs' round-tripper was in SIUE's six-run fifth inning.
SIUE third baseman and current OVC Player of the Week Alex McDavid finished the day going 5 for 8 with a double and three RBIs. Riggs, Tooley, and Jordan LaFave each had three hits Friday.
SIUE's pitching staff easily could be slighted (but shouldn't) with the offense's big day. Both Haley Chambers and Erin Greenwalt picked up victories as SIUE extended its winning streak to four games.
Chambers took advantage of SIUE's offensive explosion in the opener. She allowed three hits in her third shutout of the season. The Cougar freshman, 11-2, has now won eight straight games as well as all four of her OVC contests.
Greenwalt improved to 7-3 with the win in the second game. She struck out three and scattered nine SEMO hits.
"Haley threw really well the first game. She was sharp. In the second game, Erin wasn't as quite as sharp as she wanted to be but she spread the hits out and she executed pitches when she needed," said Montgomery.
The Cougars hit .446 for the day. Montgomery said she certainly doesn't expect to score 10 runs in any OVC contest. Her team will need to keep its focus for Saturday's third game of the series.
"They could pitch better than they did today. So we have to lock in and make sure we're making adjustments to whatever they try to do," said Montgomery.
McKendree 5-2, Southern Indiana 3-3
At Evansville, Ind. -- The McKendree University softball team split a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader on Friday, holding on to win game one, 5-3, before dropping game two in 10 innings, 3-2.
The Bearcats are now 5-14 overall and 3-8 in the GLVC, and will travel to Owensboro, Ky., on Saturday, March 30 to play Kentucky Wesleyan College in a conference doubleheader at noon.
McKendree jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning of game one, and held off a late-inning rally by the Screaming Eagles to hold on 5-3.
The Bearcats got on the board first on an RBI single by senior catcher Emily Mouyard that brought in junior leftfielder Caitlin Stredde for the first run of the game. Sophomore designated player Kelsie Stoszkus (O'Fallon) drew a bases loaded walk to score sophomore first baseman Morgan Schulte (O'Fallon) from third, and senior third baseman Dana Schulte (Wesclin) hit a double to right-center that scored three to give McKendree the 5-0 lead.
The Screaming Eagles scored a single run in the fifth inning, and added two more with two on in the bottom of the seventh, but freshman relief pitcher Taylor Barnouski (O'Fallon, Ill./O'Fallon Township) forced a ground out to end the game and earn the save,
Sophomore pitcher Susan Goetze improved to 4-3 overall and had five strikeouts in the win.
Stredde and M. Schulte each had two hits in game one, while D. Schulte had a double and three RBI.
Game two was knotted up 2-2 at the end of the seventh and wasn't decided until Southern Indiana scored in the bottom of the 10th to take game two 3-2.
The Bearcats scored first again in game two, taking a 1-0 lead on a double by sophomore shortstop Caty Ponce (Edwardsville) that scored junior rightfielder Kay Koonce (Greenville) from second base.
USI scored single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 2-1 lead, but McKendree answered in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by Stoszkus that brought in Ponce to tie the game 2-2.
The Screaming Eagles loaded the bases in the 10th inning and scored on a throwing error to end the game 3-2.
M. Schulte and Mouyard each had two hits for the Bearcats in game two.