Softball’s offense stalls against Quincy


Pitcher Brooke Harmening winds up for a pitch during a game in 2015. Harmening is now a graduate assistant for the softball team while working toward her master’s in sports management.

No. 5 Southern Indiana lost its final home game of the season after losing game two of Monday’s doubleheader against Quincy.

With the loss, the team sits at 2-2 in the last four games after entering its final series of home games on a seven game tear.

Game one started with USI in a 4-1 hole as the bottom of the second inning began.

Starting freshmen pitcher, Jennifer Leonhardt (23-1), allowed four runs and six hits to the nine batters  before being pulled in the second inning.

Quincy added two more runs in the fourth and another in the seventh after sophomore utility player, Caitlyn Bradley (7-3), took over the pitching duties.

When the team came up to bat in the bottom of the seventh inning, it was down 7-1 and Quincy had five times as many hits with 15 compared to USI’s three.

In the seventh, USI rallied back by adding six hits and six runs from the nine batters faced to tie the game and force extra innings.

Senior catcher, Haley Hodges, added another home run to her growing record when she hit the ball deep to left center with USI down 7-5 for a two-run shot that tied the game at seven.

“I got up there and tried to do whatever I could,” Hodges said. “I wanted to get on base, get a single or something and keep things rolling, but I’ll take a home run instead.”

With Quincy going three up three down in both the eighth and ninth innings, USI had a chance for the walk-off win as the bottom of the ninth started.

Southern Indiana added a leadoff single from senior shortstop, Lexi Reese, and senior Alisha Ludwig came in to pinch run for Reese.

Marleah Fossett reached base on a fielder’s choice and a throwing error by Quincy shortstop, Lindsey Greene, saved Ludwig as she was heading for second.

Quincy starting pitcher, Emily Griskell (10-12), loaded the bases after she hit senior right fielder, Grace Clark, with a pitch.

With only one out against Southern Indiana, junior third basewoman, Mena Fulton, walked up to home plate ready to aim for the sacrifice fly that would send Ludwig home and secure the walk-off.

Fulton entered her final at bat 0-of-4 on the day including a ground out to end the bottom of the seventh.

Fulton swung at the first pitch she saw and popped up a single to left center. As soon as the ball hit the ground, Ludwig was off and running towards home. Ludwig reached the plate before Quincy catcher, Kay Bettendorf, had time to turn around and tag her giving USI the 8-7 walk-off and saving them from three straight home losses.

“I had been in a pretty nasty slump lately,” Fulton said. “I was just trying to get a sac-fly or something through the infield and far enough back that we could at least tag Alisha and get one run because that’s all we needed.”

With Fulton’s hit, USI ended the day going 12-of-39 (.308) at the plate after picking up nine hits in the final three innings of play.

USI couldn’t follow up their miraculous comeback in game one with a win in game two. Instead, the offense only produced three hits 3-of-23 (.130) and added one run in the 4-1 loss.

“Quincy went up there and they swung,” head coach Sue Kunkle, said. “They had nothing to lose.”

Kunkle said she knows the team’s struggles aren’t due to any physical alignments, and instead they can be traced to a lack of confidence.

“We’re in a little bit of a funk right now,” she said.

Quincy improved to 16-26 and 8-18 GLVC after picking up the win in game two.

This isn’t the first time USI has dropped a game against a sub .500 team. Of  the team’s 10 losses, seven of them have been to teams at or under .500 when they played against USI.

After winning game one Monday, USI (40-10, 19-7 GLVC) passes the 40 win mark for just the second time in program history and the first time since 1998 when they finished 48-17.

USI ends the regular season in St. Louis with doubleheaders against Missouri-St. Louis Saturday and Maryville Sunday.