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February 18, 2003

USI softball facing tough opening weekend,
Starts season with Kennesaw State Tournament

The University of Southern Indiana softball team will be tested early as it opens its 2003 campaign with a trip to Kennesaw, Georgia, to compete in the Kennesaw State University Tournament Friday, February 21, and Saturday, February 22.

USI will start with Longwood University (Va.), Georgia College and State University, and the University of Indianapolis on Friday. The Screaming Eagles will compete in tournament play on Saturday.

While Longwood University is receiving votes in the NFCA Preseason Top 25, the tournament also features nationally-ranked Kennesaw State (10th), Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (11th), and the University of Nebraska-Omaha (14th).

Coming off a 2002 campaign in which they recorded a school-record and NCAA Division II best .980 fielding percentage, the Eagles should continue to be strong in the field as they return all but one position player in 2003.

Pitching will be the main concern when the Eagles take the field for the first time. USI lost two of its three pitchers from last year’s squad.

Head coach Sue Kunkle will look to junior transfer Shannon Emmons (Boonville, Indiana) to lead the Eagles’ staff. Emmons earned All-Great Rivers Athletic Conference as well as All-Region and Region XXIV All-Tournament honors as a freshman and sophomore at Wabash Valley Junior College. She also was the 2001 GRAC “Freshman of the Year”.

Offensively, the Eagles look strong as they return All-GLVC and All-Great Lakes Region performers Rachel Bowling (Middleton, Indiana) and Kristen Houseworth (Martinsville, Indiana). Bowling enters the season after belting five home runs and posting a .375 batting average in the GLVC Tournament. She finished the 2002 season with a .388 batting average to go along with 41 RBIs and a conference-best 16 homeruns.

Houseworth, who hit .278 with a home run and 16 runs batted in, has been hitting the ball well during the preseason and will be counted on to add to USI’s offensive arsenal. She set a school-record with her perfect fielding percentage (296 chances).

One player the Eagles were able to count on in clutch situations last season was second baseman Brooke Biggs (Osceola, Florida). Biggs, a junior, led the Eagles led the Eagles with a .419 batting average with runners in scoring position, a .600 average with the bases loaded, and a .382 average with runners on base.

USI also should get good production from junior first baseman Monica Tepe (Granger, Indiana) and senior outfielder Ginnie Roberts (Lafayette, Indiana). Tepe hit .305 as a sophomore while Roberts hit .252 and earned second-team All-GLVC honors as a junior.

Another player Kunkle brought in from Wabash Valley Junior College during the off-season is junior third baseman Nichole Pike (Fairfield, Illinois). Pike was the GRAC “Player of the Year” after hitting .425 with a pair of homeruns and 35 RBIs in 2002. She is a two-time All-Conference, NJCAA All-Region, and NJCAA All-America performer.

USI will open its 2003 home schedule Wednesday, March 5, with a non-conference doubleheader with Kentucky Wesleyan College.

Dan McDonnell,
USI Sports Information

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