USI Softball Wins Super Regional Game 1 With Grand Valley State

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The University of Southern Indiana softball team knew there was rain in the forecast.

They had seen the radar. The start of Thursday’s NCAA Division II Midwest Super Regional had already been brought forward due to the looming threat. Yet, if a delay did occur, they were confident that it would not negatively impact them.

Even though it lasted almost two hours.

An hour and 52 minute delay didn’t hamper the Screaming Eagles as they held on for a 2-1 win over Grand Valley State. USI (48-11) only needs to win one of two potential games on Friday to qualify for the D-II softball championship in Denver.

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“We told the team that if that happened they couldn’t come out flat,” ISU head coach Sue Kunkle said. “They took this break to take a deep breath, regroup, and then get back to it. We’re in a good frame of mind right now.”

Here are three reasons the Eagles tied a program record for most wins in a season.

They found a way to break through for a big inning

From the first pitch, it was as if the first team to score would win a pitching duel. USI’s revolutionary fifth round proved to be the difference.

After a hit par pitch and a walk, a few base hits put USI on the board. Katie Back led the scoring with a single to make it 1-0 and Jordan Rager followed with another RBI single. These two races were finally enough.

“I feel like we support each other really well and I just felt a lot of support when I was at bat,” Back said. “You can feel it when we start getting more excited in the shelter. It’s just a feeling.”

Added Kunkle, “We made some key walks and got some hits. That was all we needed.”

USI attacked GVSU ace early

Races usually have a premium against Hannah Beatus of Grand Valley State, who entered with a 21-3 record and 0.88 ERA. She kept opposing batters averaging just over .150.

Still, ISU wasted no time in making Beatus uncomfortable by loading the bases in each of the first two innings. Although the Eagles didn’t score either of those times, it was enough for them to gain confidence.

“It was a good sign early on that we were getting people and we could move people,” Kunkle said. “We took away some of the pitches that are his bread and butter.”

Beatus struck out seven in six innings while allowing five hits. She also walked five batters.

Being able to get riders in early helped USI set the tone. They have proven they have what it takes to make the most of another strong arm.

“It can be frustrating not getting people through, but just getting people on base is the first step,” Back said. “We know that will come later in the game.”

Eagles pitchers were comfortable in the circle

Another day, another strong outing for the ICU pitching staff. It has become the norm.

Mater Dei grad Allie Goodin got the start and did some damage control for most of the afternoon. She didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning. But things started to look dicey in the sixth.

Two singles and an error allowed the Lakers to charge the bases with no outs. Then they scored a free run on a sacrifice fly to cut ISU’s lead to 2-1. That’s when the delay interrupted the game for almost two hours.

USI brought Josie Newman into the circle when they finally took over. And the freshman pulled it off, scoring back-to-back strikeouts to close out the sixth with two runners in scoring position. She then retired from Grand Valley State in the order of seventh.

“They’re just the right amount of different,” Kunkle said of the two pitchers. “They have this difference in speed and where they go. I think it was the perfect time to make a change and let them see someone else.”

Contact Courier & Press sports reporter Hendrix Magley by email at [email protected] or via Twitter @TweetsOfHendrix.

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