EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - University of Southern Indiana Softball announced that four incoming freshmen have signed national letters of intent to compete for Head Coach Sue Kunkle‘s Screaming Eagles during the 2021-22 academic year.
That list includes outfielder Olivia Howard (Fishers, Indiana), utility player Hannah Long (Haubstadt, Indiana), utility player Kennedy Nalley (Huntingburg, Indiana) and pitcher/infielder Josie Newman (Indianapolis, Indiana).
Olivia Howard is currently in her final year at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Indiana, where she has competed in softball throughout her prep career.
Howard has made a name for herself in the travel ball scene, where she has competed for the Indiana Magic and, more recently, the Indiana Shockwaves. She hit .447 with 14 doubles, two triples and two home runs for the Indiana Magic in 2018, before hitting .377 with seven doubles, four triples and six home runs in 2019. Howard hit .283 with four triples during her first year with the Shockwaves in 2020.
“Olivia brings added speed an athleticism to our outfield and will be a huge addition to our offense as she brings a good combination of power and speed to our lineup,” Kunkle said.
Hannah Long is finishing up her prep career this year at Gibson Southern High School in Fort Branch, Indiana, where she has earned varsity letters in softball. She also competes for the Indiana Fusion Elite 18u Premier team.
A member of a Pocket Athletic Conference, sectional and regional championship team in 2019, Long was the Gibson County Softball Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2019. She also was All-Conference, All-County and All-Southwestern Indiana after hitting .408 with three home runs, eight doubles, 20 RBI and 37 runs scored in 2019.
“Hannah is a talented utility player who has grown tremendously throughout the last couple years,” Kunkle said. “She is athletic and will work with our middle infielders and could see work in the outfield. Offensively, Hannah is a scrappy hitter with power.”
Kennedy Nalley is a senior at Southridge High School in Huntingburg, Indiana, where she has played basketball and softball throughout her prep career.
A member of the Indiana Fusion Elite Premiere travel team, Nalley earned All-State honors as a sophomore in 2019 after helping SHS to a sectional title. She was named to the All-Pocket Athletic Conference team in 2018 and 2019.
“Kennedy is another athletic utility player that will work primarily with the outfield, but her versatility adds some depth to our infield as well,” Kunkle said. “She is fast, reads the ball well and has great range in the grass. Offensively, Kennedy is a scrappy, gap-to-gap hitter with speed.”
Josie Newman is in her final year at Franklin Central High School in Indianapolis where she has earned letters softball and volleyball during her prep career.
A member of the Indiana Magic, Newman has collected All-County and All-Conference accolades throughout her tenure at FCHS.
“Josie is going to be a wonderful addition to our pitching staff,” Kunkle said. “She has great command in the circle and is a real gamer. She is a polished pitcher with a huge amount of potential.
Kunkle added that “Josie also is a pretty talented second baseman and can help us offensively as well.”
Howard, Long, Nalley and Newman join a USI squad that finished the COVID-shortened 2020 season with a 15-4 overall record. The Eagles, who won their first-ever national championship in 2018, finished the season ranked No. 19 in the National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association Top 25 poll after winning 11 of their final 12 games, including their final five contests.