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March 27, 2008

Eagles ranked fifth in regional poll,
Hit the road for tough four-game stretch

EVANSVILLE, Ind.The University of Southern Indiana softball team is ranked fifth in the first NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region Poll.

This marks the first time since 2006 that the Screaming Eagles have been ranked in the regional poll. The Eagles finished the 2006 season ranked second in the poll and qualified for the NCAA II Great Lakes Region Tournament.

The GLVC is well represented in the poll as Lewis University and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville were ranked first and third, respectively. The University of Indianapolis was ranked sixth and Missouri University of Science and Technology was ranked 10th.

Saginaw Valley State University and Gannon University were ranked second and fourth, respectively, while Wayne State University and Grand Valley State University were seventh and eighth, respectively. West Virginia Wesleyan College was ninth in the poll.

USI (16-12, 3-1 GLVC) is 7-4 in the region and 4-2 in against the top 10 teams in the regional rankings.

The Eagles, who have won four straight games and 12 of their last 16, begin a tough four-game road trip that has them squaring off with Quincy University Saturday and No. 14 SIU Edwardsville Sunday. Both GLVC doubleheaders are slated for noon starts.

Offensively, the Eagles are sporting the top offensive team in the GLVC with a team-batting average of .306. Six players are hitting .300 or better, with another two lurking just under the .300 mark.

Sophomore designated player Sara Loete (Pekin, Illinois) leads the Eagles with a .420 batting average, six home runs, and 29 RBIs, while senior third baseman Kristin Eickholt (Van Wert, Ohio) is hitting .351 with seven doubles, a triple, two home runs, and 11 RBIs.

Freshman first baseman Brittany DeWeese (Evansville, Indiana) also has made a big impact as she is hitting .299 with six home runs, three doubles, four triples, and 24 RBIs.

Quincy (15-7, 0-2 GLVC) has won three of its last four games after starting conference play with a pair of road losses. The Lady Hawks defeated the Eagles twice in the regular season and once in the GLVC Tournament a year ago.

SIU Edwardsville (21-7, 1-3 GLVC), the defending Division II national champion, has won three straight games after starting league play with a 0-3 record. The Cougars swept the season-series from the Eagles a year ago.

Dan McDonnell,
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