EDWARDSVILLE — Though they'd already started spring break from school, the Edwardsville Tigers remained focused on the softball field.
Ari Arnold drove in three runs as the Tigers beat the O'Fallon Panthers 7-1 Tuesday in a Southwestern Conference game.
The Tigers grabbed a 6-0 lead by scoring four runs in the first inning and then adding two more runs in the second inning.
"I thought the first three innings we had some really good at-bats," Edwardsville coach Lori Blade said. "That's what I just told them. For three innings, we competed really hard. We didn't waste pitches, we didn't waste at-bats and then I thought once we got the lead, we didn't have the mentality we should have to compete at every at-bat.
"I was concerned with no school and having to come in to play, but they did what they needed to do to get the win."
Arnold drove in two runs with a single in the second inning and a run with a double in the fourth inning.
Blade said Arnold has gotten more comfortable with batting in the No. 2 spot in the Tigers' lineup.
"I started her there, but she just didn't seem comfortable, so I tried some other kids in the beginning," Blade said. "Hopefully, she has found a home there now right behind Anna (Walshleger) and right ahead of Rachel (Anderson)."
Arnold said she's learned to better handle the pressure that comes with batting in the No. 2 spot.
"I think I'm definitely more comfortable hitting in the No. 2 spot," Arnold said. "There is a lot of pressure to get your bunts down. Sometimes you let it get to your head."
Edwardsville pitcher Kallen Loveless scattered six hits. She struck out six and walked two.
The Panthers scored their lone run off Loveless in the sixth inning on back-to-back doubles by Becca Proper and Taylor Underwood.
"I'm sure she would have loved to have the shutout, but we hung a couple of pitches, especially to Underwood, and she tagged pretty good," Blade said. "To get the win against O'Fallon is always good and puts us in a good spot for the conference right where we want to be."
The Tigers improved to 10-2 overall, 3-1 in the SWC. They've beaten Belleville East and O'Fallon by a combined score of 15-1 after dropping a 5-3 decision to Belleville West last Tuesday in SWC play.
"These are very important wins," Arnold said. "Especially starting off with that loss to Belleville West, we need all the wins we can get. To beat O'Fallon, they're a pretty good team, so it feels good."
The Panthers fell to 10-5 overall, 2-2 in the SWC.
"You don't want to make errors and you don't want to come out flat, and we unfortunately did both of those," said O'Fallon coach Kelly Paproth, whose team stranded seven runners in the game. "We have to work on coming out right from the very beginning ready to go."
Walshleger led off the first inning with a single and then stole second.
With one out, Rachel Anderson tripled and Loveless doubled.
Another run scored on an error on Torrie Kruse's grounder to second base. Kruse would later score on a wild pitch.
Arnold singled home both Olivia Nicholls and Walshleger in the second inning to put the Tigers ahead 6-0.
The Tigers went up 7-0 in the fourth inning when Arnold doubled to bring home Katelyn Dobrowski, who had singled to lead off the inning.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.