2009 Softball Outlook
Eagles look to build around powerful offense in 2009
The University of Southern Indiana softball team will build around its
explosive offense as it enters the 2009 campaign.
Head Coach Sue Kunkle’s Screaming Eagles set a single-season school record by belting 30 home runs in 2008 and sported a roster that featured 11 players with at least a .250 batting average.
Kunkle, who became the program’s all-time winningest coach in 2008, will rely on junior designated player Sara Loete, arguably the GLVC’s most feared hitter.
Loete, the Eagles’ clean-up hitter for much of the 2008 campaign, earned All-America honors by both the NFCA and Daktronics after hitting 10 home runs and driving in a school-record 54 RBIs.
A year ago, Loete benefitted from having departed seniors Kristin Eickholt and Kathy Wood hitting in the two and three spots in the lineup. Wood hit .373 and led the GLVC with seven triples last year, while Eickholt hit .325 with 10 doubles and a triple.
Replacing Eickholt and Wood will be Kunkle’s toughest challenge in 2009, but with a strong core of returning players, it is a challenge that will be met head on.
Kunkle will look to a trio of seniors—shortstop Allyn McKinley, outfielder Lacey Ligmanowski, and pitcher Stephanie Schneider—to help her meet the aforementioned challenge.
McKinley ranks third all-time at USI with 39 career doubles, just nine behind Eickholt’s school-record 48, after hitting .282 with 10 doubles and 25 runs batted in last season. In 2007, McKinley hit .326 with 18 doubles, seven home runs, and 45 RBIs.
Ligmanowski, who tied a 30-year-old single-game school record by belting three balls over the fence against the University of Arkansas-Monticello last year, has hit .311 with 12 home runs, 25 doubles, four triples, and 62 RBIs during her first three seasons at USI.
Schneider, who has battled a knee injury the last two seasons, went 9-6 with a 3.48 ERA a year ago. Schneider earned GLVC Pitcher of the Week honors in April 2008 after going 3-0 with a 0.67 ERA and a .164 opponent batting average against Rockhurst, Bellarmine, and Northern Kentucky.
In addition to Loete, Kunkle’s junior class includes catcher Tara McConnell, outfielder Lindsay Raikes, and pitcher Kambria Current.
McConnell hit a career-high .258 with six doubles, two home runs, and 20 RBIs in 2008, while Raikes played in 38 games despite playing behind Wood and senior Kirsten Morgan. Current had a stretch during the 2008 campaign that saw her go 4-0 with a 1.02 ERA in eight appearances.
USI’s sophomore class includes four returning players—first baseman Brittany DeWeese, infielder Dani Finkelstein, catcher Dani Monks, and outfielder Heather Swarts.
DeWeese hit .268 with nine doubles, four triples, six home runs, and 28 RBIs during her first year of collegiate softball, while Finkelstein hit .241 with seven doubles, a triple, one home run, and 15 RBIs as a freshman.
Both Monks and Swarts saw limited playing time during their inaugural seasons in the collegiate ranks. Monks hit .267 with a home run and two RBIs in 30 trips to the plate, while Swarts hit .235 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs in 17 at-bats. Swarts also had a walk-off, game-winning double late in the season against Missouri University of Science and Technology.
The Eagles’ sophomore class also includes three newcomers—pitcher/infielders Amanda Brendel and Dawn McClellan, and third baseman/outfielder Amanda Pravdica.
Brendel transferred from Rend Lake College (Ina, Illinois) where she hit .388 with eight doubles, six triples, five home runs, and 46 RBIs as a freshman in 2008. She also went 10-13 with a 2.76 ERA in the pitching circle for the Warriors.
A graduate of Salem Community High School (Salem, Illinois), Brendel hit better than .540 with 10 home runs and 69 RBIs during her final two seasons in the high school ranks.
McClellan went 15-3 with 84 strikeouts as a freshman at John A. Logan College (Carterville, Illinois) last season. She also hit .387 with nine doubles, two triples, three home runs, and 33 RBIs in 2008.
The Chesterton High School graduate (Chesterton, Indiana) was a two-time first-team All-State performer during her prep career. She went 22-1 with an ERA below 0.50 as a junior in 2006.
Pravdica spent the fall semester of her freshman year at Heartland Community College (Normal, Illinois) before transferring to Ivy Tech Community College (Evansville) for the spring semester. Pravdica graduated from Castle High School (Newburgh, Indiana) where she hit .350 with a team-high seven home runs and 25 RBIs as a senior in 2007. She earned All-State honors and helped the Knights capture the 2007 IHSAA Class 4A state championship.
USI’s freshman class includes pitcher/infielder Hadley Clark and utility player Alex Dunfee.
Clark was outstanding at Owensboro Catholic High School (Owensboro, Kentucky), where she was named the 2008 Class 2A Player of the Year by the Kentucky High School Coaches’ Association. She went 30-3 with an ERA below 0.50 and nearly 300 strikeouts as a senior and helped the Kentucky All-Stars to their first-ever three-game series victory over the Tennessee Stars in the third annual Kentucky/Tennessee All-Star Series.
Dunfee comes to the Eagles from Penn High School (Mishawaka, Indiana) where she was a two-time All-State and three-time All-Northern Indiana Conference honoree behind the plate. She led PHS with 34 RBIs in just 30 games during her senior season while helping her squad to its third conference and sectional championships in four years.
The Eagles’ schedule features 13 games against teams that were in the 2008 NCAA II Tournament and begins February 13-15 at the Arkansas-Monticello Classic. Following the six-game UAM Classic, the Eagles travel to Decatur, Alabama, for another six-game run in the University of Alabama-Huntsville Charger Chillout February 20-22.
USI gets its first taste of the newly revamped NCAA II Midwest Region when it competes in the Midwest Region Showdown February 28 and March 1 in Owensboro, Kentucky. USI faces five opponents from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, including defending region champion Ferris State University.
The Eagles play 12 games at the Division II Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Florida. Four of those contests are against 2008 NCAA II Tournament teams.
After playing a total of 29 games, the Eagles open their home schedule March 18 against Brescia University. They open their GLVC slate March 21 when they visit the University of Missouri-St. Louis and host their first GLVC home doubleheader March 28 against the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
In all, the Eagles have 12 home games scheduled in 2009, with their final four contests of the regular season at the USI Softball Field.
The GLVC Tournament is May 1-3 in East Peoria, Illinois, while the NCAA
II Midwest Region Tournament is May 8-10. A best-of-three Super Regional
Series (May 15-16) will decide the Midwest Region’s representative at the
NCAA II Softball Championships, which are May 21-25 in Salem, Virginia.