OXFORD, Ala. – SIUE softball advanced in the 2017 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, edging UT Martin 2-1 at Choccolocco Park.
That's the 10th time in her 29 years as head coach of the Cougars that Sandy Montgomery has reached the 40-win mark.
"That's awesome," said Montgomery. "It's not easy to get 40 wins no matter where you are playing or who you are playing."
The Cougars next play in the winner's bracket against top-seeded Jacksonville State at 3 p.m. Friday. Jacksonville State defeated Eastern Illinois Thursday 4-2.
SIUE found itself behind for the second straight day. Alli Fulcher drove home Rachel Williams in the second inning with one of the Skyhawks' two hits.
The offense for the Cougars struck in the fourth against UT Martin starter Brooke Kennedy, who fell to 21-6.
Zoe Schafer opened up the inning with a four-pitch walk. Jane Smith pinch ran for Schafer and advanced to second on her 19th stolen base of the season. Allison Smiley then made it first and third with a single to left center.
That set up Reagan Curtis.
"Coach has been pushing me on the squeeze bunt for the past week especially," said Curtis. "We've been working on it in practice. I had a teammate call me out to perform the squeeze bunt at practice. I was happy with how well I got it down."
Curtis put the bunt down on the first base side only to reach first on a throwing error by UT Martin first baseman Gracyn McBride.
"I knew if I got it down, she (Smith) was going to get there," said Curtis.
"I had no doubt in my mind when I called that she would get it done for us," added Montgomery.
Smiley moved over to third on the squeeze bunt and error.
Sarah Lopesilvero then picked up the eventual game-winning RBI with a bloop single over the UT Martin second baseman Savannah Dodson, driving home Smiley.
Haley Chambers-Book went the distance for the Cougars, yielding just two hits and striking out four. She is now 26-6.
"I'm real happy with the kids on how they are battling," said Montgomery. "Tournaments are hard and gritty. Everybody has the same goal in mind."