By Joey Bennett
TERRE HAUTE — Southern-Illinois Edwardsville made its debut as a Division I softball program on Friday in the Centenary Tournament at Shreveport, La., by splitting a pair of games.
The long-time Division II power, coached by Casey-Westfield grad Sandy Montgomery, is moving up to the bigtime this year and lost a 4-2 decision to the host team before routing Bryant 14-0.
A pair of former Wabash Valley area standouts keyed the win over Bryant.
North Vermillion grad Whitney Davis got the start at first base and had a breakout debut, going 3 for 3 at the plate with two RBI and two runs scored. She also walked once.
Former Casey all-stater Megan Murphy, who attended Illinois in the fall semester but transferred to SIU-E over the Christmas break, came into the game as a substitute at shortstop and went 2 for 2 at the plate with a run scored and an RBI.
Both players had key roles in a nine-run sixth inning for the Cougars.
Davis drew a leadoff walk and Murphy followed with a single. Both runners advanced on an illegal pitch, and both then moved up on a wild pitch with Davis scoring. Murphy then scored on a single.
In college recruiting news:
• Avon’s Austen Stoelting, a second-team all-state soccer performer for the Orioles last fall, will continue her career at Jacksonville State (Ala.).
She is the daughter of Terre Haute native Traci (Russell) Stoelting and granddaughter of Dean Russell of Terre Haute, both famous for softball umpiring. Traci Stoelting umpired in the Beijing Olympics last year.
Austen was the Avon team captain last year and earned first-team all-district honors, the Top Team Player Award, Mental Attitude Team Award, second-team all-state honors and was honorable mention academic all-state. She has a 4.0 GPA.
She played center mid and forward until her junior year, when her high school coached moved her to defense.
“He said I was a natural defender,” Stoelting wrote in her profile on PrepChamps.com. “I didn’t agree at the time, but it was the best move ever for me. My size and speed make me a tough defender.”
As the sweeper, Stoelting helped her team record 12 shutouts.
Jacksonville State is a Division I school that competes in the Ohio Valley Conference.
• Rockville’s Laura Payne has signed a national letter-of-intent to play collegiate volleyball at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Ill.
She led the Rox to a 23-5 record last fall and a sectional championship.