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December 07, 2007

Eagles announce early signings

EVANSVILLE, Ind.The University of Southern Indiana softball team announced that four players have signed national letters of intent during the early signing period to play for Head Coach Sue Kunkle's Screaming Eagles in 2009.

USI's list of newcomers for the 2009 campaign will include sophomore pitcher/infielder Amanda Brendel (Salem, Illinois), sophomore third baseman/outfielder Amanda Pravdica (Newburgh, Indiana), freshman pitcher/middle infielder Hadley Clark (Owensboro, Kentucky), and freshman utility player Lauren Smith (New Palestine, Indiana).

Brendel is currently a freshman at Rend Lake College (Ina, Illinois) after a stellar prep career at Salem Community High School in Salem, Illinois. Brendel hit .539 with six home runs and 25 RBIs as a senior in 2007 after recording a school-record .554 batting average with four home runs and 44 RBIs as a junior in 2006.

A four-time All-Conference performer, Brendel earned second-team All-State honors in 2007 and third-team All-State honors in 2006. She also was named All-State Special Mention by the Chicago Tribune and was the Centralia Morning Sentinel Class AA Player of the Year in 2007.

"Amanda has the ability to be one of the top pitchers in our conference next year," Kunkle said. "She also has the potential for power at the plate and will be an immediate impact player for us in 2009."

Pravdica will have three years of eligibility after spending the 2007 fall semester at Heartland Community College and the 2008 spring semester at Ivy Tech Community College. She was a standout player for Castle High School (Newburgh, Indiana), where she batted .350 with a team-high seven home runs and 25 RBIs as a senior in 2007.

An All-Metro and All-State performer, Pravdica helped the Knights to a 30-6 record and to within a win of capturing the 2007 IHSAA Class 4A state championship.

"Amanda will be a great asset to our program," Kunkle said. "She is a tremendous fielder as well as a strong hitter that will bring depth to our roster.

"Amanda also was a part of a winning program in high school and has gained a lot of experience," Kunkle continued. "She is an athletic kid with a lot of potential."

Clark is currently a senior at Owensboro Catholic High School where she has earned varsity letters in basketball, soccer, and softball. In 2007, Clark posted a 13-4 record with a 1.43 ERA and 126 strikeouts. She also hit .235 with 15 RBIs and eight stolen bases during her junior campaign.

A member of OCHS's 2005 state championship team, Clark helped her travel team to the Kentucky 18-and-under ASA state championship in 2007.

"Hadley is a well-rounded athlete who will be used in many areas," Kunkle said. "She has been successful inside the circle throughout her high school career and in summer ball teams. Her championship experience at OCHS will help her transition into our program."

Smith is currently a senior at New Palestine High School (New Palestine, Indiana) where she earned All-County honors as a sophomore after recording a 7-0 record with a 0.77 ERA. She helped the Dragons to a regional championship and an appearance in the IHSAA Class 3A State Finals.

In travel ball, Smith led the Indy Edge with a .420 batting average and a slugging percentage of .573. Smith, who has played on a USSSA and NSA national championship travel team, earned MVP honors at the 2007 Queen of Diamonds South Showcase in South Carolina.

"Lauren has great speed and will help us in a lot of areas," Kunkle said. "She has played several positions throughout her high school and summer ball career. She can use that experience to help us as a pitcher, infielder, and outfielder."

USI starts the 2008 season February 15 at the Gulf South/Midwest Crossover in Tunica, Mississippi.

Dan McDonnell,
USI Sports Information

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