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April 30, 2003

USI softball ranked ninth in regional poll,
Plays Bellarmine in GLVC Tournament

For the first time this season, the University of Southern Indiana softball team has cracked the top 10 in the Great Lakes Regional Poll. The Screaming Eagles are ranked ninth in the poll as the head into the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament, slated for this Friday through Sunday, May 2-4, in Edwardsville, Illinois.

USI (26-16 overall, 13-7 GLVC) enters the GLVC Tournament as the fourth seed and will play fifth-seeded Bellarmine University on Friday. First pitch is slated for 9 a.m. at Cougar Field on the campus of SIU Edwardsville.

Bellarmine (26-17 overall, 12-8 GLVC) swept the Eagles in a doubleheader in Louisville, Kentucky, earlier in the season. USI lost the first game, 3-1, before falling in the second game, 1-0.

One thing the Eagles will have to their advantage in this go-around is the coveted last at-bat. With the last at-bat in 2003, the Eagles have amassed a 15-5 record, compared to a 10-11 record when batting first.

Another thing USI will have going for it is the fact that this yearís tournament strangely resembles last seasonís tournament in which the Eagles nearly won the GLVC championship.

Like last season, the Eagles were 26-16 heading into the league championship tournament. The top five seeds were exactly the same as last season, and the Eagles were facing a Bellarmine squad in the first round that had swept USI earlier in the season.

This season, the Eagles enter the tournament as the hottest team in the tournament. USI has won 14 straight games and have hit a blistering .380 as a team during that span. The Eagles are sporting eight players that are hitting .349 or better during their 14-game winning streak.

For the season, the Eagles lead the GLVC with a .309 team batting average and are second in the conference with a .970 team fielding percentage.

Leading USIís attack is none other then its sophomore leadoff hitter and rightfielder Sunny Oelling (Valparaiso, Indiana). Oelling is third in the conference with a team-high .411 batting average. She is fourth in the league with a team-leading 33 runs scored.

Behind Oelling is a plethora off capable hitters, including juniors Brooke Biggs (Osceola, Indiana) Nichole Pike (Fairfield, Illinois), Kristen Houseworth (Martinsville, Indiana), and Shannon Emmons (Boonville, Indiana)ónot to mention senior centerfielder Rachel Bowling (Middletown, Indiana), who slammed five home runs in last yearís GLVC Tournament.

With Biggs, USIís second baseman, the Eagles have a capable hitter (.333 batting average), a player that can lay down a sacrifice, or take a base-on-balls. She leads the team and the conference in walks (20) and is the tied for second in the conference with a team-leading 13 sacrifice bunts.

Pike, USIís third baseman, follows Biggs with a .341 batting average, two home runs, and 26 runs batted in. All Pike has done during USIís winning streak is hit .489 with 15 RBIs.

Houseworth, USIís clean-up hitter and catcher, has been devastating to opposing pitchers this season. Houseworth is hitting a career-high .374 with a team-leading six home runs and 30 RBIs in 2003.

Emmons has been nothing short of spectacular during USIís winning streak. During the streak, she has posted a team-high .524 batting average, five doubles, a triple, and 12 runs batted in. She also has posted a 7-0 record, two saves, and a 0.45 ERA in her last nine pitching appearances.

Bowling is hitting a modest .286 on the season, but is second on the team with five home runs and 27 RBIs. She also has hit .364 during USIís winning streak.

Another player the Eagles are happy to see hit the ball well is junior first baseman Monica Tepe (Granger, Indiana). Tepe is hitting .375 with three doubles and five RBIs during USIís winning streak.

Defensively, the Eagles have had great play out of senior shortstop Jenny Duell (West Lafayette, Indiana) and senior leftfielder Ginnie Roberts (L

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