GODFREY — Sarah Hangsleben supplied the power for the Edwardsville softball swat team Tuesday.
The junior outfielder packed a potent punch as the Tigers’ main strike force.
Hangsleben went 4-for-4 with 2 singles, a double and triple and 2 RBIs in leading the Tigers past previously unbeaten Alton, 9-2.
The Redbirds, angling for their best start since 2013 when they won their first nine games, fell to 8-1 overall and 2-1 in the Southwestern Conference. Not only did they lose their first game, they also lost coach Dan Carter, ejected in the top of the third inning.
Edwardsville, the defending conference champ, improved to 5-2 and 2-0. The Tigers are the only undefeated team in the eight-school SWC.
“It was a good win for us and a good team effort for sure,” said Hanglesben, who came close to hitting for a cycle. All she missed was a home run.
She singled in the first inning, doubled home a run in the second and tripled in the fifth. Then Hangsleben provided a RBI single in the sixth.
“I knew I was close to hitting for a cycle,” she said. “It was my best-hitting game of the season. I was looking for good pitches to hit and making contact.”
Tigers’ coach Lori Blade said Hangsleben is capable of igniting a forceful attack.
“If she’s patient, she can hit very well,’ Blade said. “She’s a streaky hitter but she doesn’t get cheated at the plate.”
Neither does teammate Rachel Anderson, bound for Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau. The senior outfielder went 2-for-4 with a double, drove in two runs reached base three times.
“They (Tigers) hit the ball well up and down the lineup,” Alton’s Carter said. “They earned the win. But we didn’t give ourselves much of a chance by falling behind 5-0 by the second inning.
“We started out flat.”
Three AHS errors enabled Edwardsville to score six unearned runs against Redbirds’ pitcher Brittany Roady. Carter got so frustrated with things that plate umpire Glenn Vetter ejected him in the third inning.
Evidently, Vetter didn’t like the body language of AHS catcher Miranda Hudson when she reacted to some of his calls on balls and strikes. Carter questioned him about it and was eventually ejected. Assistant coach Katie Wilson served as the head coach for the rest of the game.
“That’s the first time I have been ejected in more than 1,000 varsity events,” said Carter, who also previously served as the Redbirds’ volleyball coach. “He made the decision that I went too far. It surprised me because there was no bench warning.”
Carter will have to serve a one-game suspension and sit out Alton’s nonconference contest Wednesday at Highland. The Redbirds then welcome Granite City on Thursday in a conference game.
The Redbirds’ level of frustration increased when they stranded 12 runners and left the bases loaded twice. Alton had 10 hits, just two fewer than Edwardsville.
Katelyn Presley led the Birds by going 3-for-3 and also drawing a walk. Savannah Fisher went 2-for-4, batted in a run and reached base 3 times. Tami Wong drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and Tomi Dublo contributed a run-scoring single in their two-run fourth.
“I think we are good enough to compete with anybody, but today we didn’t come out ready to compete,” Carter said. “Edwardsville put a lot of pressure on us from the start of the game.
He added, “They are the only unbeaten team in the conference and the defending champs. So until somebody knocks them off, they are the team to beat.”
Winning pitcher Jordan Garella struck out 9 and walked 2 in scattering 10 hits, Both Alton runs were unearned. Each team made three errors.
“She basically shut them out (no earned runs) and that says something about the way she pitched,” Blade said of Garella.
Emma Lewis and Taryn Brown collected two hits apiece for the Tigers and Brown stroked a two-run single in the fifth.
“We put the ball in play and had some key at-bats,” Blade said. “It was a great and complete team win.”
Edwardsville is slated to entertain Belleville West on Thursday in another league test and then go to Triad on Friday in nonconference competition.
EDWARDSVILLE 9 ALTON 2
Edwardsville 230 003 1 — 9 12 3
Alton 000 020 0 — 2 10 3
Edwardsville (5-2, 2-0) — Hayli Green 1-3 RBI, Rachel Anderson 2-4 RBI, Sarah Hangsleben 4-4 2B 3B RBI-2, Allison Loehr 1-4 RBI, Emma Lewis 2-3 2B, Taryn Brown 2-4 RBI-2. WP – Jordan Garella IP-7 H-10 R-2 ER-2 BB-2 K-9.
Alton (8-1, 2-1) — Katelyn Presley 3-3, Miranda Hudson 1-4, Tami Wong 1-3 RBI, Tomi Dublo 1-3 RBI, Savannah Fisher 2-4, Sydney Hartman 1-4, Bronte Fencel 1-4. LP – Brittany Roady IP-7 H-12 R-9 ER-3 BB-1 K-4.