Eagles earn at-large berth in NCAA II Tournament

Eagles earn at-large berth in NCAA II Tournament

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) -University of Southern Indiana Softball earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament in an announcement on NCAA.com Monday morning.

The Screaming Eagles (33-19) are the No. 4 seed and will take on the No. 5 seed, Wayne State University (33-23), in the opening round of the NCAA II Midwest Region #1 Tournament Thursday at 1:30 p.m. (CDT) in Allendale, Michigan.

Grand Valley State (44-8) will host the regional for the second consecutive year as the top seed in the regional and will take on the No. 8 seed, Hillsdale College (23-26), in the opening round Thursday at 11 a.m.

The winners from Thursday’s games will meet in the winner’s bracket on Friday at 10 a.m., while the losers of Thursday’s games will meet in the first elimination game Friday at 12:30 p.m. The second elimination game is Friday at 3 p.m., while the championship is Saturday at 11 a.m., with the “if necessary game” scheduled for Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

USI was won of five Great Lakes Valley Conference teams to make the NCAA II Tournament as the University of Missouri-St. Louis (35-17) earned the right to host the NCAA II Midwest Region #2 Tournament as the No. 2 seed Thursday through Saturday in St. Louis, Missouri. The University of Indianapolis (45-14) is the No. 3 seed and will face the No. 6 seed, Truman State University (31-17), while the University of Illinois Springfield (27-24) is the No. 7 seed and will take on Missouri-St. Louis in the opening round.

The winners of the two NCAA II Midwest Region Tournaments will meet in a best-of-three NCAA II Midwest Super Regional May 16-17 at the site of the highest remaining seed. The NCAA II Softball Championship is May 23-27 in Denver, Colorado.

All of USI’s games this weekend will be aired on 95.7 The Spin, while live stats, audio and video coverage can be accessed at GoUSIEagles.com. Additional details, including ticket information, will be added to GoUSIEagles.com later in the week.

USI Softball Notes

• Eagles go 0-2 in GLVC Tourney. USI Softball went 0-2 in the GLVC Tournament last weekend, losing a 1-0 affair with Truman State in the opening round before falling to Drury, 8-0, in five innings.

• Back-to-back shutouts. The GLVC Tournament marked the first time since 2016 that the Eagles have suffered back-to-back shutout losses.

• Last week’s leaders. Sophomore outfielder Alicia Webb was a combined 2-of-3 at the plate to pace USI’s offense. The Eagles hit just .182 as a team and was held to just one extra-base hit, a triple by Webb in USI’s loss to Truman.

• In the circle. Junior pitcher Jennifer Leonhardt paced the Eagles with a 1.00 ERA and five strikeouts. She scattered seven hits and just one run across seven innings in USI’s loss to Truman.

• Back in the Dance. USI Softball is making its fifth straight appearance in the NCAA II Tournament and its sixth in the last seven seasons. The Eagles, who won the national title in 2018, have captured Midwest Region titles in each of the last two seasons. Overall, USI is in the NCAA II post-season for the ninth time and the seventh under Head Coach Sue Kunkle.

• USI-GVSU. USI is in the same regional as Grand Valley State for the fifth straight year and the seventh time (all under Kunkle) since 2006. Unlike the previous three years, Indianapolis will not be joining the Eagles and Lakers in the same regional as UIndy is playing host to the Midwest Region #2 Tournament this week in Indianapolis.

• Leonhardt named GLVC Pitcher of Year. Leonhardt was named the GLVC Pitcher of the Year for the first time in her career last week at the GLVC Softball Awards Banquet in East Peoria, Illinois. Leonhardt posted a 19-7 overall record, four saves, a 1.36 ERA, a .189 opponent batting average, 11 complete-game shutouts and 215 strikeouts during the regular-season. She went 10-4 in GLVC-only play with a 0.92 ERA and 128 strikeouts.

• All-GLVC. Leonhardt, a unanimous first-team All-GLVC selection, was one of four Eagles to earn All-GLVC honors. Sophomore second baseman Claire Johnson was a unanimous first-team All-GLVC honoree, while Webb (outfield) and senior outfielder/pitcher Caitlyn Bradley (utility/pitcher) garnered thrid-team honors.

• Johnson reaches 100 RBIs. Senior second baseman Claire Johnson recorded her 100th career RBI in USI’s 7-3 win over UIndy on Sunday. She is the 13th player in program history to record 100 career RBIs.

• USI vs. Wayne State. USI is squaring off with Wayne State for the first time since sweeping the Warriors in the 2017 NCAA II Midwest Super-Regional. The Eagles are 12-13 against Wayne State since 1990, but they have a 4-0 record against the Warriors in the NCAA II Tournament.

• USI vs. NCAA II Tournament Field. USI went 7-8 against this year’s NCAA II Tournament field and was 5-5 against the Midwest Region Tournament field. Overall, the Eagles are 146-154 since 1990 against this year’s NCAA II Tournament field.

• USI in the NCAA II Tournament. The Eagles are 21-15 all-time in the NCAA II Tournament and are 15-3 in the last two years.

• USI going to Allendale. USI’s trip to Grand Valley State marks the third time the Eagles have made a trip to Allendale, Michigan, for the NCAA II Tournament. USI previously played in the NCAA II Tournament in Allendale, Michigan in 2013 and 2018.

• Senior class. USI’s senior class—Bradley, Johnson, catcher Lindsey Barr and pitcher Haylee Smith—have accounted for a 155-77 overall record, 77-36 in GLVC play; and is six wins shy of matching last year’s senior class for the most (161) in program history.

• Leonhardt breaks strikeout record, ties 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 683 batters, tied Harmening’s school record for career wins (74) in USI’s 6-3 win over Lewis.

• USI in the rankings (5/1). USI held tight at No. 22 in the latest NFCA Top 25 poll, while the Eagles also held their ground at No. 4 in the final NCAA II Midwest Region Rankings of the regular-season. Indianapolis is ranked No. 2 in the region and No. 12, nationally, while Grand Valley State is No. 1 in the region and No. 8, nationally. Missouri-St. Louis stayed at No. 3 in the latest regional ranking and is receiving votes in the Top 25.

• Weekly awards. Both Leonhardt and Johnson have earned weekly awards this season. Leonhardt was named the Schutt 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 .371 batting average, 11 doubles, five triples, four home runs, 32 RBIs, 23 walks, 46 runs scored, a .579 slugging percentage and a .472 on-base percentage. Leonhardt is hitting .366 with 11 doubles, a triple, a home run, 30 RBIs and 15 sacrifices, while Bradley is hitting .301 with 11 doubles, four triples, two home runs and 34 RBIs. Barr leads the Eagles with six home runs to go along with five doubles, two triples and 24 RBIs, while Webb is hitting .336 with five doubles, four triples and 20 RBIs. Schubert is hitting .288 with five home and 21 RBIs.

• Leonhardt leading Eagles in circle. Leonhardt leads the Eagles with a 19-8 record, four saves, a 1.35 ERA, a .191 opponent batting average and 220 strikeouts.

• Hitting streaks. Webb has the longest current hitting streak of seven games entering the 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 (703), 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), fifth in at-bats (674), sixth in RBIs (122), ninth in walks (62) and runs scored (124), 10th in doubles (36), 11th in triples (6), and tied for 13th in home runs (15);

Claire Johnson is first in walks (95), second in triples (16) and runs scored (154), tied for fifth in hit-by-pitches (17), ninth in at-bats (633), 13th in RBIs (100), tied for 16th in home runs (13) and is just outside the top 10 in assists (308) and hits (194);

Jennifer Leonhardt is first in strikeouts (688), tied for first in wins (74), second in shutouts (31), fourth in complete games (74), fifth in innings pitched (638.0), and is tied for 12th in triples (5);

Allison Schubert is tied for ninth in home runs (18).

Courtesy: USI Athletics

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