EDWARDSVILLE — In the last two days, the Southwestern Conference softball race has taken a couple of surprising twists and turns.
Pitcher Kallen Loveless threw a two-hit shutout as the defending SWC champion Edwardsville Tigers beat the Belleville East Lancers 8-0 Thursday.
The win comes two days after the Tigers (6-1, 2-1) were upset 5-3 by Belleville West.
"We were really motivated as a team today," Loveless said. "After that conference loss on Tuesday, we were ready to get back into this conference and catch back up with everybody else.
"I hung a few (pitches) on Tuesday, and I was ready to hit my spots and make the hitters hit my pitches."
Edwardsville coach Lori Blade was pleased with the way her team has bounced back from the loss. They beat Freeburg 16-6 on Wednesday.
"I don't know if you would call it a wake-up call on Tuesday or what, but we didn't approach the game very well," Blade said. "Yesterday, we had to refocus. I think we did a great job with Freeburg, and I liked our mentality today to come in and compete."
Loveless struck out six and walked one.
She gave up a single to Annie Eversman in the third inning and a single to Erinn Henry in the fourth, but held the rest of the Lancers' potent lineup in check.
"That's huge because they can hit," Blade said. "To shut them out, period, is quite an accomplishment, and to get the win is even better. It's just the first of not one than two more times that we are going to see them. This one means a lot because it gets us back in the conference.
"If we lose this one, we have kind of buried ourselves."
The loss comes two days after the Lancers (9-3, 2-1) routed O'Fallon 13-0.
"I think everybody going into this conference season knew it was going to be nuts," East coach Natalie Peters said. "As crazy as this game was on the losing end for us, Tuesday was just as crazy on the winning end.
"In this conference, you have to come and play your A-game every night. If you don't play your A-game, you are going to lose. That's the story tonight. All facets of our game was just not there."
East starter Alison Mitts gave up eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. She struck out five and walked four.
The Lancers compounded their lack of offense with five fielding errors, leading to four unearned runs.
Peters felt her hitters weren't patient enough againat Loveless.
"I don't want to take anything away from Kallen, because she really threw an awesome game," Peters said "She really mixes it up, she mixes speeds and hits her spots, but I personally thought our hitters got over aggressive.
"We've been seeing the ball so well, and we were chasing balls that we normally don't chase."
Loveless drove in her team's first two runs of the game with singles. She brought home Anna Walshleger with a single up the middle in the first inning and Ari Arnold with a single to left in the fifth.
"I was really zoned in at the plate because I really wanted a lot of run support this game," Loveless said.
Loveless' second single triggered a five-run rally by the Tigers, who plated three runs when Megan Radae's bases-loaded single got past the left fielder.
Arnold, who went 3-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt in the game, added a two-run double in the sixth.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.