February 24, 2004
USI softball ready for season-opener
The University of Southern Indiana softball team will begin its 2004 campaign Friday, February 27, when it travels to Kennesaw, Georgia, to compete in the Owl Classic. The Screaming Eagles will face four teams that were ranked in the National Fastpitch Coachesí Association Top 25.
Included in the teams that the Eagles will face at the two-day Owl Classic is #9 Kennesaw State University, #8 Wayne State University, #19 University of Nebraska-Omaha, and last seasonís NCAA Division II runner-up, #17 Georgia College and State University. USI also will play Lenoir-Rhyne College, a team that was 28-15 in 2003.
USI, which is under the direction of third-year head coach Sue Kunkle, returns five first-team All-GLVC selections and four All-Great Lakes Region performers from last yearís squad.
Senior catcher Kristen Houseworth (Martinsville, Indiana) and junior outfielder Sunny Oelling (Valparaiso, Indiana) lead USIís offense into the 2004 season. Houseworth, a two-time All-GLVC and All-Region performer, hit .371 with six home runs and 32 RBIs last season.
Oelling, who also is coming off an All-GLVC and All-Region campaign, led the Eagles and was third in the GLVC with a .401 batting average. She was second in the league with 63 hits and four triples while finishing fourth in the league with 34 runs scored.
Senior pitcher/infielder Shannon Emmons (Boonville, Indiana) and senior shortstop Nichole Pike (Fairfield, Illinois) also will be counted on to provide offensive fire-power for the Eagles. Emmons earned first-team All-GLVC honors after hitting .383 with a team-high 16 doubles to go along with a triple, a home run, and 24 RBIs. She also was an All-Region selection as a pitcher after recording 14 wins and a 1.89 ERA during her junior campaign.
Pike, who will move left defensively to her natural shortstop position, recorded a .962 fielding percentage and was second on the squad with 108 assists as a third baseman in 2003. She hit .333 with a pair of home runs and 27 RBIs as a junior.
One thing Kunkle will benefit from in 2004 is veteran leadership. USIís 2004 roster features six seniors, five of which were regular starters for the Eagles in 2003. Joining Emmons, Houseworth, and Pike in USIís senior class, is second baseman Brooke Biggs (Osceola, Indiana), first baseman Monica Tepe (Granger, Indiana), and outfielder Jessica Brown (Evansville, Indiana).
Biggs, a first-team All-GLVC selection in 2003, hit .325 with eight doubles and 19 RBIs a year ago.
The Eagles will open their 2004 home schedule Friday, March 5, against Purdue University-North Central. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. at the USI Softball Field.
USI Sports Information