Hot Tigers hope to keep rolling in the postseason

News-DemocratMay 26, 2014 

— The Edwardsville Tigers enter the postseason on a roll.

The Tigers (32-3) have won 14 straight games heading into the Class 4A Edwardsville Softball Regional.

Tigers coach Lori Blade stopped short of saying that her team is playing its best softball going into the playoffs.

"We went that three-week span where we scored some runs and we really hit," Blade said of a 14-game stretch in April where the Tigers scored seven or more runs in 13 of the 14 games. "I'd love to see us get back into that mode. I do like where we are at. Whether it is the best we've played all year, I'm not sure."

The Tigers' last loss came April 29, when they fell 6-2 to the Alton Redbirds.

The Redbirds (25-10) are seeded second in the Edwardsville Regional.

"It still hurts from when they beat us, so I think we'll be ready to go whenever if we play them," Tigers junior pitcher Kallen Loveless said of the Redbirds, who have eight seniors on their squad.

Quincy is seeded third and Granite City (1-26) is seeded fourth.

The Tigers will play Granite City at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"It is going to be tough," Blade said. "We'll get by Granite hopefully, and we'll take our chances with Quincy or Alton.

"I like this group, I like our chances and they'll compete for us everyday, and that's all I can ask for."

The Tigers claimed their second straight Southwestern Conference championship by winning their final six league games.

They were forced into a must-win situation after dropping an early league contest to Belleville West and then suffering the loss to the Redbirds.

"With our two slip-ups to still be able to win the conference is a great accomplishment," Blade said.

Loveless has an 20-2 record with an 0.88 ERA.

The Tigers have scored 359 runs in 35 games this season, an average of 10 runs per game.

They have six regulars hitting over .400. with Anna Walschleger leading the way with a .486 batting average and 40 runs scored.

Kallen Loveless is right behind Walshleger with .485 average, five homers and a team-leading 48 RBIs.

Olivia Nicholls is hitting .474, Ari Arnold owns a .473 average with 36 RBIs and Hayli Green is batting at a .424 clip with 27 RBIs.

Rachel Anderson, arguably the most dangerous hitter in the Tigers' lineup, is hitting .417 with 11 doubles, six triples, five homers and 32 RBIs.

Anderson said the Tigers are happy to have home-field advantage in the regional.

"Playing at home will help us, but you still have to play it like any other game," Anderson said.

The winner of the Edwardsville Regional will play the winner of the Belleville East Regional on June 3 in the O'Fallon Sectional.

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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