JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – Senior Chelsea Yankolovich belted a two-out home run over the left field fence in the bottom of the sixth Wednesday as SIUE opened the 2014 Ohio Valley Conference Softball Championships with a 1-0 victory over Tennessee Tech.
Haley Chambers tossed her eighth shutout of the season to earn the victory for the Cougars, who improved to 28-21.
Tennessee Tech dropped to 23-34 and will play UT Martin Thursday in the first elimination game of the double-elimination tournament. SIUE advances to play Eastern Illinois in the winner's bracket Thursday at 12:30 p.m. The game can be seen on OVCDigitalNetwork.com and heard on WSIE FM 88.7 as well as SIUECougarNetwork.com.
"The best time to win in one of those games when it's tied all the way through is in the bottom of the sixth when you're the home team," SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery said.
Chambers, who improved to 16-13, got stronger as the game went on as she retired the final eight batters she faced, including five via the strikeout. She fanned seven Tennessee Tech batters overall and has now allowed two or less hits in each of her last three outings.
"She always steps up when we need her," said Yankolovich. "In that last inning she shut them down."
Yankolovich was the Cougars' hero in the bottom of the sixth after Tennessee Tech pitcher Danielle Liberatore had retired 15 consecutive batters.
"I was literally trying to get on base so someone else could hit me in, but she pitched it right down the middle," explained Yankolovich.
"I'm happy for her," added Montgomery. "She has done a great job for us over the last four years."