Cougars bite Salukis during extra innings

By Terrance Peacock

The Saluki softball team rallied late in its matchup against SIU-E, but a two-run homerun in the 12th inning proved to be the deciding factor in a 6-4 loss Tuesday at Charlotte West Stadium.

The Salukis (14-17) fell behind early in the first inning when an unearned run put Edwardsville (23-8) on top by one. The Salukis then tied the game with a solo home run by junior infielder Jayna Spivey to lead off the fourth inning.

The Cougars regained their edge in the fifth with three runs on four hits off of senior pitcher Brittney Lang to lead the game 4-1.

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Sophomore pitcher Alyssa Wunderlich relieved Lang in the fifth inning and kept Edwardsville off of the board for the next seven innings.

The Salukis cut their deficit to 4-2 with an RBI single by Spivey in the sixth before they took advantage of two SIUE errors to tie the game in the seventh inning, which took the game into extras.

The sister schools went scoreless through the next four innings before SIUE sophomore outfielder Brittany Toney found her pitch and sent a fly ball to center field just out senior outfielder Morgan Barchan’s reach and over the center field fence.

The Salukis brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the 12th inning, but couldn’t get a clutch hit and fell to Edwardsville by two.

Spivey went 3-6 with two RBIs to lead the Saluki offense while Barchan also contributed with three hits and two runs.

Wunderlich (5-8) suffered another tough loss despite pitching 6.2 innings and recording a career-best eight strikeouts.

“I thought (Wunderlich) came in and did a great job,” coach Kerri Blaylock said. “She knows she is throwing better.”

Despite the loss, Blaylock said the team competed hard and was a few hits shy of a win.

“We battled all game,” she said. “We had great energy, great approach and the only reason we lost the game is because we had a couple kids not produce in a two-out situation, and they had one that did.”

Spivey, who is fifth on the team with a .299 season batting average and leads SIU with eight home runs, said despite another heartbreaking defeat she likes the team’s outlook going into the future.

“We were one big hit shy of getting the win, but ever since Illinois State this past weekend we’ve really turned around as a team.” Spivey said. “Like coach said, if we play like this everyday we are going to win more than we lose.”

The Salukis will travel to Charleston to take on Eastern Illinois in a non-conference matchup Thursday, before coming back home Saturday to take on Wichita State in a weekend conference series at Charlotte West Stadium.

The matchup will also be the annual Salukis Strike Out Cancer Day to bring awareness to the disease.

“I lost my dad and brother to cancer, and it’s huge for us,” Blaylock said. “They put it in pink but it’s just not a breast cancer game, it’s for everybody who has been affected by it.”

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