Strong, offensive techniques fueled a four-win sweep for the Salukis Saturday and Sunday in the Coach B Classic at the Charlotte West Stadium.
In front of a crowd of 350 on a sunny, 47-degree Saturday, the Salukis dominated Western Illinois 14-6 off 12 hits and later beat Wright State 8-6 off seven hits.
Cloudy skies and 49 degree weather Sunday didn’t affect the Salukis’ determination to finish the tournament undefeated. With 235 Saluki fans in attendance, SIU defeated Northern Illinois 15-7 off 13 hits and then concluded the
tournament with a win over its rival, the SIU-Edwardsville Cougars, 4-1 off of only four hits.
The Salukis combined for 19 hits and drew 11 walks Sunday against Northern Illinois and SIUE.
The 2012 season marked the Salukis’ 26th appearance in the annual Coach B Classic. The Classic is named after former head coach Kay Brechtelsbauer, who finished with a 633-438 record and coached SIU for 31 consecutive years from the start of the softball program. The Salukis (10-5) are now on a six-game winning streak after their offense totaled 23 hits.
Coach Kerri Blaylock said the Salukis maintained a stable offensive game that helped carry their style of play throughout the tournament.
“Offensively, we played very, very well staying in the ball game, and I was honestly pleased in the first game (on Saturday),” Blaylock said. “But in game two, I thought we lost our focus and thought we didn’t play our brand of ball.”
Blaylock said the team’s previous two wins in Orlando, Fla., was motivation to come home and open the 2012 season undefeated. She said winning four games straight will boost the Salukis’ confidence when they travel to Hawaii for the next tournament.
“We wanted to come home and win four, that was our objective,” Blaylock said. “That way, we felt like we could head out to Hawaii feeling pretty good.”
After the Salukis’ outcome at the Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla., senior shortstop Haley Gorman said the team knew the competition it was up against, and the team’s last two wins in the Citrus Classic carried over into its current six-game winning streak.
“We ended on a high note (at the Citrus Classic) and we wanted to bring that intensity at home,” Gorman said. “If anything, that got us pumped up and ready to go (at home).”
The Salukis’ undefeated start of the season wasn’t the only highlight of the weekend.
The Salukis will continue on the road when they fly to Honolulu to compete in the Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament March 9 to 11.