Softball keeps winning as offense struggles


Photo courtesy of Photo Services

Sophomore Caitlyn Bradley pitches during a game against Trevecca Nazarenne in 2016 at the USI baseball fields.

Sue Kunkle said the softball team is finding different ways to win during its seven game win streak.

USI has been winning close games since there hasn’t been much breathing room created by the offense. Three of the last four games ended with the team up by one run.

The offensive struggles stretch back even further with the Eagles failing to produce its season average of five runs per game in seven of the last 10 contests.

“We’re not going to be getting 15 hits a game,” Kunkle, the head coach, said. “It might take one hit.”

Though they aren’t blowing games wide open on offense right now, something Kunkle said she’s proud of is No. 8 Southern Indiana’s recent ability to win after being down early in games.

In four of the team’s last five games, it has faced a deficit after the opposing team scored first and the university won each time.

“It’s a good sign for us because in the postseason all the games are going to be close,” Kunkle said. “When you get down to the wire, everyone is good.”

One of the different ways the team has been winning is through defense and pitching. During the team’s seven game win streak, the starting pitchers have a sub-two ERA in five of those games and the most runs scored by opposing teams in that span is two.

Sophomore utility player Caitlyn Bradley (6-2) pitched in three of the games during the win streak, two as a starter and one in relief.

She started in USI’s 2-1 win against Lewis Saturday. Bradley was able to close out the game with two runners in scoring position and stop Lewis from scoring the tying or go ahead run.

“I think they were starting to come back and hit a little bit, but I had confidence in my defense to make the plays to finish out the game,” Bradley said. “I wasn’t too worried about it.”

Bradley said she was able to maintain her composure by following the calls catcher Haley Hodges made during the last inning.

Freshman starting pitcher Jennifer Leonhardt (22-1) pitched four complete games and started five games during the win steak. Her most recent win came Saturday in game one against Lewis.

Lewis scored one run against her in the third inning of USI’s 4-1 win when third basewoman Kendyl Strack took a Leonhardt pitch deep giving Lewis a one run lead.

Leonhardt said she doesn’t think the home run affected her composure in the pitching circle because it wasn’t as if she gave up a string of base hits and then the opposing team scored.

“Since it was a home run, that helped me not get so down on myself because she earned it,” Leonhardt said. “If you hit it out, you earn it.”

She said she’s noticed the offense hasn’t produced that many runs lately, and it sometimes adds an extra burden to her, but she has confidence in the team to get the job done when they need to.

“Sometimes I feel like I have to a little bit more when we aren’t producing,” Leonhardt said. “I think when I don’t think much about it and I go into a game not worrying about it or having expectations, that’s when I do better.”