A day after gaining the top spot in the Ohio Valley Conference softball standings, the SIUE Cougars fell to Tennessee Tech at Cougar Field.
The Golden Eagles edged the Cougars in a pair of close contests. Tennessee Tech defeated SIUE 4-3 in game one and took the nightcap 4-2.
Tennessee Tech improved to 22-17 overall and 9-5 in the OVC. SIUE dropped to 29-9 overall and 11-3 in the OVC.
“I was disappointed in our performance and in our effort,” said SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery. “We’ll go back to work tomorrow and get back on the field Tuesday.”
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The Cougars have a busy week ahead with a doubleheader at Western Illinois Tuesday. SIUE’s next OVC series is a three-game set at Austin Peay Saturday and Sunday.
In Sunday’s opening game, a four-run fifth inning proved to be enough for the Tennessee Tech offense. With the bases loaded, Angi Sakamoto was hit by a pitch to tie the game 1-1. Hannah Eldridge then recorded a bases-clearing double to right field to put the Golden Eagles up 4-1.
SIUE fought back with two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Whitney Lanphier doubled home Rachel Keller and then scored on a single by Brittany Toney.
Haley Chambers took the loss for the Cougars and is now 17-4. Her 11 strikeouts put her past the 200 mark in strikeouts this season. It was the second time the left-hander has had more than 200 strikeouts in a season and the eighth time in Cougar history.
Erica Tuck picked up the win while Danielle Liberatore earned her first save by retiring the final four SIUE batters.
“Everybody plays well against us,” said Montgomery. “It just boils down to that we’re leading the conference. Anybody that comes in here is going to show up and play, and we have to be better.”
In game two, the Golden Eagles used a four-run third inning in the victory. Sabrie Neeb’s second home run of the season, a three-run homer to left field, proved to be the difference.
Liberatore went the distance for to improve her record to 13-7. She struck out 10 SIUE batters.
SIUE scored both of its runs in the fifth inning. Amy Hunt scored on an outfield error after a single by Chambers. Allison Smiley, who made an outstanding diving play late in the game, drove home Chambers with a single.
“If there’s one bright spot on the day, it was Smiley,” said Montgomery. “She was on point, playing hard, and mentally into it.”