Eagles find leadership in Harmening

Zane Clodfelter

The fact that Head Coach Sue Kunkle doesn’t have a senior on her USI softball roster doesn’t mean that her team lacks veteran leadership. In fact, she has plenty of leadership, most of which comes from sophomore Brooke Harmening.

“She is just the ideal teammate,” Kunkle said. “She is a great supporter of our other pitchers as well, and as a staff everyone is coming together.”

Not only is Harmening a good leader, but she has established herself as one of USI’s best pitchers after pitching a no-hitter against Wisconsin-Parkside in a 3-0 USI victory last month. The no-hitter milestone is the second of her brief collegiate career, and she accounts for both no-hitters for USI since 2006.

“She is pitching at her peak moment right now,” Kunkle said.

For Harmening, excitement is generated, not because of personal accomplishments, but for the excitement that her teammates exhibit.

“It was exciting – my teammates made me even more excited because of their energy,” Harmening said. “They were so happy for me.”

Harmening did accomplish a career first this past week, being named the GLVC Player of the Week in softball, following a 3-0 record and 0.23 ERA in four games last week. The Whiteland, Ind., native pitched 30.1 of the Eagles’ 31 innings on Friday and Saturday, and did even more damage offensively, accounting for nine of the Eagles’ 12 runs during the week while hitting 0.571.

“I’m just trying to make things happen for the team,” she said. “You have to have confidence in yourself and you have to have the right mentality.”

For the season, Harmening leads USI (16-9, 6-6 GLVC), pitching with a 12-3 record and 1.01 ERA while offensively hitting .388 with six home runs and 27 runs batted in.

Stats and numbers don’t define Harmening, though – her leadership abilities do.

“Being a pitcher, you have to develop those leadership roles early on, no matter what age or grade you are,” Harmening said. “Since you are a pitcher, you have to have more of a leadership role.”

Harmening and her teammates return home this weekend, with two doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday against St. Joseph’s and Indianapolis, respectively. USI will wear pink jerseys against UIndy Sunday to help raise awareness for breast cancer research. This is the second straight season the Eagles will wear the pink uniforms.

While junior pitcher Kelsey Jankowski doesn’t have family members who have been affected by breast cancer, she enjoys having the opportunity to raise awareness for a disease that is the second-leading cancer killer among women.

“It’s nice to be a part of something that supports an important cause,” Jankowski said.