EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. -- For the first time since 2017, Belmont University Softball has recorded four consecutive conference victories. On Sunday, the Bruins (30-19, 12-8 OVC) swept SIUE (15-24, 7-11 OVC), winning 10-4 and 11-3 in five innings to extend their winning streak to four contests.
The pair of wins marked the first time since joining the OVC that BU has swept the Cougars and it marks the first time since joining the OVC that BU has swept both opponents on a road weekend in league play. Additionally, 2019 becomes the sixth time in program history the team has recorded at least 30 victories and it stands as the first time Belmont has recorded at least 12 wins in conference play in the Division I era.
The first two and a half innings of game one was a pitchers' duel with neither team able to get a runner over the plate. The Cougars were able to score first in their half of the third frame, after loading the bases and taking advantage of a pair of BU throwing errors. The flurry saw SIUE take a 2-0 lead.
The Bruins were finally able to respond in the top of the fifth inning. Back-to-back walks for senior Chelsea Thomas (Hot Springs, Ark.) and sophomore Elison Ollinger (Robins, Iowa) saw the first SIUE pitching change. Four consecutive singles for seniors Baylee Cook (Lewisburg, Tenn.) and Hayley Baker (Rockwall, Texas), freshman Audrey Lyle (Westlake, Ohio) and junior Bailey Sims (Flowery Branch, Ga.) sent three over the plate and forced the Cougars to change pitchers again. However, the next two BU players were able to walk in runs and Ollinger, who saw her second at-bat in the inning, used a hard single to send another Bruin home. At the end of the stunning half inning, Belmont led, 6-2.
The bats remained hot in the top of the following inning for BU. Cook sent a double to right and Lyle reached on four balls before sophomore Alicia Veltri (Clarksville, Tenn.) cleared the bases with her double to right that put Belmont ahead, 8-2. A pair of singles with two outs helped the Cougars to plate a single runner in the bottom of the sixth. The Bruins refused to let up in the top of the seventh, adding more to their run tally. A fielding error by SIUE helped sophomore Cheyenne Cavanaugh (Spring, Texas) reach before Cook was sent to first base on four balls. The Cougars sent another pitcher into the circle to attempt to slow down the Bruins. Baker cleared the bases with a double to left, putting BU ahead, 10-3. SIUE was able to add a single run in its half of the final inning but Belmont shut down a two-out rally to secure the 10-4 victory.
Belmont did not see its bats cool in the nightcap. In the top of the first frame, Baker smashed a double up the middle and was able to use her speed to get over the plate after a fielding error of a hit by Lyle. BU exploded offensively in the top of the second inning. Back-to-back walks for Veltri and Lee were followed with a single by Thomas to load the bases. A triple by Cook cleared the bases and put Belmont ahead, 4-2. Baker reached on a Cougar fielding error, helping another run score and before a 2-out two run bomb by Lyle continued to expand the BU lead. After the scoring onslaught, Belmont led 7-2.
The Bruins refused to let off the gas and added even more runs in the top of the third inning. Cavanaugh was walked and three consecutive singles led to a pair of runs being scored. Sims reached on four balls to load the bases once again and a double to the fence by Veltri helped two more runners over the plate. This time, BU was ahead a commanding 11-2. SIUE had one last gasp in the bottom of the fifth inning, sneaking one run over the plate by stringent defensive play saw Belmont hold on for the 11-3 win.
For the day, Cook batted .750 with five runs, a double, a triple and four RBI. Veltri batted .600 with a run, three doubles and five RBI.
Inside the circle, Lee and Veltri each went the distance in her respective contest. Lee finished with six strikeouts in her win while Veltri posted three in her win.
Belmont returns to action on Thursday, May 2 for its final doubleheader of the regular season. The Bruins host Eastern Kentucky for a rescheduled pair of games with the first pitch set for 3:30 p.m. Live stats will be available. The contest can also be seen live on ESPN+.