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January 31, 2007

Eagles ranked 23rd in preseason poll

EVANSVILLE, Ind.—The University of Southern Indiana softball team is ranked 23rd in the NFCA Division II Preseason Top 25 poll.

USI finished the 2006 season ranked 22nd after posting a third-place finish at the NCAA II Great Lakes Regional Tournament. The Screaming Eagles, who are picked to finish second in the GLVC this season, finished the 2006 campaign with a 39-18 overall record and a 17-5 mark in the GLVC.

The Eagles return seven position starters in 2007, including second-team All-GLVC and All-Region selections Kristin Eickholt (Van Wert, Ohio) and Kathy Wood (Lynnville, Indiana). Eickholt, a junior third baseman, hit .343 with 45 RBIs, four home runs, and a school-record 21 doubles.

Wood led the Eagles with a .392 batting average, 18 sacrifices, and 14 stolen bases. She was second on the team with 45 runs scored.

Head Coach Sue Kunkle, the 2006 GLVC Coach of the Year, also brought in eight newcomers, including junior pitchers Amy Harrison (Graceville, Florida) and Stephanie Schneider (Birdseye, Indiana). Harrison transferred from USI after spending her first two collegiate seasons at Florida State University where she was a member of the 2004 ACC and regional championship team that placed fifth at the NCAA I Women's College World Series.

Schneider had a stellar career at Parkland College where she posted a 30-5 overall record with a 0.88 ERA in two seasons. She was the 2006 NJCAA II Region XXIV Player of the Year after posting a 16-3 record with a 0.54 ERA to go with a .424 batting average, five home runs, and 29 RBIs.

The Eagles start the season February 16 at the University of West Georgia Invitational. They begin GLVC play with their home-opener March 24 against the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

NFCA II Preseason Top 25 poll
Rk Team (1st-place votes)
 1 Lock Haven (6)
 2 Florida Southern (2)
 3 Emporia State
 4 Humboldt State
 5 SIU-Edwardsville
 6 Georgia College & State
 7 Incarnate Word
 8 Le Moyne
 9 Bloomsburg
   Central Oklahoma
11 Nebraska-Omaha
12 Alabama-Huntsville
13 LIU-C.W. Post
14 Cal St. Stanislaus
15 Columbus State
16 Gannon
18 Lenoir-Rhyne
19 Abilene Christian
20 Shippensburg
21 Caldwell
22 Seattle
23 Southern Indiana
24 NW Missouri St.
25 San Francisco St.

Others receiving votes:
SW Minnesota St.-10, Wingate-8, Regis-5, Florida Gulf Coast-4, Valdosta State-3, Kutztown-3, USC-Upstate-2, Dominican-1.

Dropped out:
No. 4 Cal State Bakersfield (Moved to Division I), No. 11 Concordia-St. Paul, No. 13 Cal State Dominguez Hills, No. 15 Northern Kentucky, No. 20 Valdosta State, No. 20 St. Mary's (Texas), No. 23 Armstrong Atlantic, No. 24 Augustana (S.D.).

Dan McDonnell,
USI Sports Information

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