JAN PHYL VILLAGE, FL. (WFIE) - University of Southern Indiana Softball had a flare for the dramatic Sunday morning as the No. 24 Screaming Eagles earned a 2-1 win over Midwest Region foe Northwood University and an 8-5, eight-inning win over Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
USI 2, Northwood 1 -- USI (13-4) used a pair of one-out, solo home runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to snare victory from the jaws of defeat in its 2-1 win over Northwood.
After amassing just one hit throughout the first six innings, the Eagles needed a hit to get something started heading into their final turn at the plate.
Freshman second baseman Rachel Martinez got that hit and more as she launched a ball over the fence for her first career collegiate home run, which tied the score at 1-1. Junior outfielder Alicia Webb followed with her first career collegiate home run in the next at-bat as the Eagles, who were starring at their fifth loss of the year square in the face just moments earlier, walked off the field in celebration.
Northwood (6-4) struck first with a solo home run in the top of the first inning; but the Timberwolves left a pair of runners on base in the fourth inning and one in each of the first, fifth and seventh frames. Meanwhile, Northwood pitcher Shayna Frank had faced the minimum when Martinez hit the game-tying home run—USI’s only base runner to that point had been part of a double play.
Senior pitcher Jennifer Leonhardt (6-3) earned the win in the circle after giving up just one run off six hits in seven innings of work. She racked up six strikeouts and issued just one walk to earn the win.
USI 8, Indiana-Pa. 5 (8 innings) -- USI scored four times in the top of the eighth inning; then got a big double play in the last half of the eighth inning to preserve the 8-5 win over Indiana-Pennsylvania.
The Eagles took a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning and had the Crimson Hawks down to their final out. IUP, however, got a hit and a walk to bring up the tying run; then a three-run bomb tied the game at 4-4.
IUP (4-4) continued the pressure as it followed the home run with back-to-back singles, forcing the Eagles to make a change in the circle.
Sophomore pitcher/first baseman Katie Back, who had pitched brilliantly up until the seventh inning, gave way to freshman Allie Goodin, who induced an inning-ending ground ball. Goodin (4-0) earned the win in the circle after giving up just one unearned run—the international tie-breaker—off two hits in an inning and third. Back gave up four runs, three earned off eight hits, but had allowed just one unearned run off four hits and five strikeouts throughout the first 6 2/3 innings of work.
USI capitalized on a pair of walks and an error to score three times in the fourth inning, breaking a scoreless tie in the process. Leonhardt capped the inning off with a two-run double.
After the Crimson Hawks took advantage of three USI errors to score a run in the last half of the fourth inning, sophomore catcher Courtney Schoolcraft hit a solo shot to lead off the fifth frame, giving USI the 4-1 lead.
USI took advantage of the international tie-breaker rule in the eighth to score its first run. Webb pushed across the second run with a one-out single; while Schoolcraft’s two-run single with two outs gave the Eagles the 8-4 lead.
Notes -- Sunday’s game against IUP marked the fifth extra-inning game for the Eagles, who are now 4-1 in extra frames this season…USI’s pitching staff is off to a great start to the 2020 season, with a combined ERA at a GLVC-best 1.84 and opponent batting average at a league-low .212.
Up next -- USI concludes its trip to The Spring Games when it takes on Midwest Region foe Hillsdale College and Winona State University Tuesday at 1:45 p.m. (CDT) and 4 p.m., respectively.