Big sixth inning lifts Eagles past Warriors in NCAA-opener

Big sixth inning lifts Eagles past Warriors in NCAA-opener

ALLENDALE, Mich. (WFIE) -University of Southern Indiana Softball erupted for four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning as the No. 4 seeded Screaming Eagles earned a 4-0 win over No. 5 seed Wayne State University in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Midwest Region #1 Tournament Thursday evening.

After playing to a scoreless tie through five innings of play, USI broke through with a five-hit inning that saw the first four batters in the frame score runs.

Senior second baseman Claire Johnson (Pittsboro, Indiana) began the inning with a lead-off single. She reached second base on a fielder’s choice, sacrifice bunt by junior pitcher Jennifer Leonhardt (Louisville, Kentucky).

Sophomore outfielder Alicia Webb (Elberfeld, Indiana) followed with an RBI-double to break the scoreless tie, while an RBI-single by senior outfielder/pitcher Caitlyn Bradley (Forest, Indiana) in the next at-bat put USI up, 2-0.

Two batters later, sophomore first baseman Haley Shouse (Borden, Indiana) roped a shot down the leftfield line to score two more runs and extend USI’s advantage to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Leonhardt (20-8) was in typical post-season form as she recorded her 12th complete-game shutout of the year. She held the Warriors to just three hits and did not issue a walk, while striking out four batters en route to her 20th win of the year.

Leonhardt breaks school record for wins

Leonhardt, with the win, becomes USI’s all-time leader in career victories (75). She surpassed USI’s career strikeout record earlier in the year and is just eight away from 700 in her career.

Up next

USI returns to action Friday at 10 a.m. (CDT) when it takes on nationally-ranked No. 7 and top-seeded Grand Valley State University in the semifinals of the NCAA II Midwest Region #1 Tournament. A USI victory would propel the Eagles into Saturday’s championship round, while a loss would pit the Eagles against the winner of the Wayne State-Hillsdale College game Friday at 3 p.m.

In other tournament action

Host Grand Valley State (45-8) began the day with a 6-1 win over the No. 8 seed, Hillsdale, Thursday afternoon. The Lakers scored two runs in both the first and second innings before adding single tallies in both the third and fifth frames.

In the NCAA II Midwest Region #2 Tournament in St. Louis, the No. 3 seed, University of Indianapolis, rallied from a 9-3 deficit to defeat the No. 6 seed, Truman State University, 10-9; while the No. 7 seed, University of Illinois Springfield, upended tournament host and No. 2 seed, University of Missouri-St. Louis, 8-0, in five innings.

Courtesy: USI Athletics

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