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March 04, 2003

USI softball to open season with KWC

The University of Southern Indiana softball team will open its 2003 season with a non-conference doubleheader with Kentucky Wesleyan College. First-pitch is slated for 3 p.m. at the USI Softball Field.

After having their original season-opener rained out, the Screaming Eagles will be looking to get their first real taste of the outdoors after being restricted to indoor practices due to inclement weather and poor field conditions.

USI will need to get rid of the rust quickly as it is scheduled to compete in the Division II Rebel Spring Games, in Osceola, Florida, as well as a grueling Columbus State University Invitational, in Columbus, Georgia, next week. The Eagles will face three nationally-ranked teams in Florida and four nationally-ranked teams in Georgia.

First, the Eagles will try to continue their dominance over a KWC team that also is entering its season-opener. USI is 14-0 since 1998 against the Panthers.

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, Indiana). 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 conference play Saturday, March 22, when it travels to Edwardsville, Illinois, to take on 11th-ranked SIU Edwardsville.

Dan McDonnell,
USI Sports Information

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