EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) -University of Southern Indiana Softball looks to capture the Great Lakes Valley Conference regular-season title this weekend when it travels to Romeoville, Illinois, to take on Lewis University Friday at 1 p.m. and No. 13 University of Indianapolis Sunday at 11 a.m. (CDT).
Pending conference office approval, USI’s GLVC doubleheader with Lewis is being pushed to Friday at 1 p.m. due to rain in the forecast in Romeoville on Saturday. Sunday’s conference twinbill in Indianapolis remains unchanged.
Both doubleheaders will be aired on the GLVC Sports Network, while live stats and video can be accessed at GoUSIEagles.com.
The Screaming Eagles (31-15, 17-5 GLVC) enter the final weekend of the regular season in a tie with Indianapolis atop the GLVC standings. USI can win the GLVC regular-season title and claim the top seed in next week’s GLVC Softball Championship Tournament by sweeping the weekend.
USI slipped to No. 22 in the latest NFCA Top 25 Coaches’ Poll and to No. 4 in the latest NCAA Division II Midwest Region rankings. The Eagles were joined by Indianapolis (No. 13 in the NFCA Top 25 and No. 2 in the regional ranking) in both polls, while the University of Missouri-St. Louis jumped two spots to No. 3 in the latest regional ranking.
The Tritons also are third in the GLVC standings, sitting a game back of USI and Indianapolis. Other GLVC teams in the regional ranking include No. 7 University of Illinois Springfield and No. 10 Truman State University.
Grand Valley State University, ranked No. 10 in the NFCA Top 25, held its ground with the top spot in the region ranking, while fellow Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schools Wayne State University and Ashland University were ranked No. 5 and No. 6, respectively. Great Midwest Athletic Conference members Ohio Dominican University (No. 8) and Trevecca Nazarene University (No. 9) rounded out the latest regional ranking.
USI Softball Notes
• Eagles go 1-1 last week. USI Softball split a GLVC doubleheader with host Bellarmine last week. Bellarmine took the opener, 3-0, while USI earned a 7-4 win in the nightcap.
• Last week’s leaders. USI was limited to a .250 team batting average in its doubleheader split with Bellarmine last week. Junior outfielder Allison Schubert paced the Eagles at the plate with a .600 batting average as she was 3-of-5 with an RBI. Senior outfielder/pitcher Caitlyn Bradley was 3-of-7 (.429) with a double and two RBIs, while junior pitcher Jennifer Leonhardt hit .333 (2-6) with two doubles and an RBI.
• In the circle. Bradley paced the Eagles with a 0.00 ERA as she held the Knights scoreless on two hits in two innings of work to pick up a save in the second game. Leonhardt took the loss in the opener as she gave up three runs off five hits in 5.0 innings of work, while senior pitcher Haylee Smith earned the win in game two.
• Another schedule change. Pending expected approval from the GLVC office, the Eagles’ weekend schedule is changing for the fifth time in the last six weeks as USI’s doubleheader against Lewis in Romeoville, Illinois, Saturday is being moved to Friday at 1 p.m. The Eagles’ doubleheader at Indianapolis remains unchanged.
• What’s at stake this week? USI visits Lewis and No. 13 Indianapolis to finish the 2019 regular-season. The Eagles are currently tied with Indianapolis for first in the GLVC standings, while Missouri-St. Louis is just a game behind in third place. USI can claim the GLVC regular-season title if it sweeps the weekend, but could finish as low as fourth with four losses.
• USI vs. Lewis. The Eagles have won six straight and seven of the last eight against the Flyers, who are 18-26 overall and 9-13 in GLVC play entering the weekend. Lewis is a game behind Bellarmine for the eighth and final spot in the GLVC Tournament.
• USI vs. UIndy. The Greyhounds (39-11, 17-5 GLVC) swept USI in the regular season last year, but USI defeated UIndy in both the GLVC and NCAA II Tournaments last spring. The Eagles swept the Greyhounds in their last visit to Indianapolis in 2017.
• Leonhardt breaks strikeout record, closing in on win record. Leonhardt broke Brooke Harmening’s all-time school record for career strikeouts (642) in USI’s game-one win over Drury. Leonhardt, who has struck out 666 batters, is just one win shy of Harmening’s school record for career wins (74).
• USI in the GLVC. The Eagles enter the weekend ranked second in the conference in team ERA (2.48), fourth in fielding percentage (.966) and fifth in batting average (.301). In GLVC-only games, USI is first in team ERA (1.64) and second in batting average (.296).
• USI in the rankings. USI dropped a spot to No. 22 in the latest NFCA Top 25 poll, while the Eagles are ranked No. 4 in the latest NCAA II Midwest Region Rankings. Indianapolis is ranked No. 2 in the region and No. 13, nationally, while Grand Valley State is No. 1 in the region and No. 10, nationally. Missouri-St. Louis moved up two spots to No. 3 in the latest regional ranking.
• Weekly awards. Both Leonhardt and Johnson have earned weekly awards this season. Leonhardt was named the Schutte Sports/NFCA Division II Pitcher of the Week on April 10 and has been named GLVC Pitcher of the Week three times. Johnson was named GLVC Player of the Week on March 11 following her efforts at The Spring Games.
• Webb ties record. Sophomore outfielder Alicia Webb tied a school record for triples in a game (2) when she had back-to-back triples in the first and second innings of USI’s 7-0 game-one win over Illinois Springfield.
• Offensive leaders. Johnson is pacing the Eagles at the plate with a .403 batting average, 10 doubles, five triples, four home runs, 30 RBIs, 22 walks, 43 runs scored, a .633 slugging percentage and a .503 on-base percentage. Leonhardt is hitting .387 with 10 doubles, a triple, a home run, 30 RBIs and a GLVC-best 14 sacrifices, while Bradley is hitting .310 with 11 doubles, four triples, a home run and 30 RBIs. Barr leads the Eagles with six home runs to go along with five doubles, two triples and 23 RBIs, while Webb is hitting .323 with five doubles, three triples and 19 RBIs.
• Leonhardt leading Eagles in circle. Leonhardt leads the Eagles with an 18-6 record, four saves, a 1.22 ERA, a .178 opponent batting average and 198 strikeouts. She begins the week leading the GLVC in ERA, strikeouts and opponent batting average and is second in wins and saves. Bradley is currently third in the league in ERA (1.56) against GLVC-only teams.
• Hitting streaks. Bradley has the longest current hitting streak of two games entering the week as she had the only hit in USI’s one-hit shutout loss to Bellarmine last week. Leonhardt had a nine-game hitting streak this year, while Johnson and senior shortstop Taylor Ricketts each have recorded eight-game hitting streaks this year.
• Record book watch. Several USI players are in the USI career record books:
–Lindsey Barr is eighth in putouts (682), tied for 12th in triples (5), and tied for 19th in home runs (11);
–Caitlyn Bradley is third all-time in hit-by-pitches (21), sixth in RBIs (118) and at-bats (654), tied for ninth in walks (61) and runs scored (121), 10th in doubles (36), 11th in triples (6), and tied for 14th in home runs (14);
–Claire Johnson is first in walks (94), second in triples (16) and runs scored (152), sixth in hit-by-pitches (16), 10th in at-bats (613), tied for 13th in RBIs (98) and tied for 16th in home runs (13);
–Jennifer Leonhardt is first in strikeouts (666), second in shutouts (31) and wins (73), fourth in complete games (71), fifth in innings pitched (616.0), and is tied for 12th in triples (5);
–Allison Schubert is tied for 11th in home runs (17).
Courtesy: USI Athletics