University of Southern Indiana Softball got a fielder’s choice, walk-off RBI from sophomore designated player Claire Johnson (Pittsboro, Indiana) in the bottom of the seventh inning to earn a 3-2, come-from-behind win over visiting Wayne State University in the opening game of the NCAA Division II Midwest Super Regional Thursday afternoon at the USI Softball Field.
Johnson beat out a potential inning-ending double play as her ground ball was scooped up by Wayne State sophomore shortstop Hannah McClounie, who stepped on second base to get the second out of the inning. McClounie turned to fire the ball to first base, but sophomore first baseman Megan Guitar’s foot came off the bag in an effort to get the ball for the third out.
Meanwhile, junior third baseman Mena Fulton (Bloomington, Indiana), who opened the inning with a lead-off double, easily crossed the plate for the game-winning run that put the No. 9 Screaming Eagles up, 1-0, in the best-of-three series to decide the Midwest Region champion.
The run capped off a come-back for the Eagles (45-12), who trailed Wayne State, 2-0, after one inning of play.
Wayne State (40-15) used a two-out rally in the top of the first inning to plate a pair of runs. USI loaded the bases in the bottom of the first inning, but failed to push a run across the plate.
A lead-off walk to Johnson, followed by a double by senior shortstop Lexi Reese (Lebanon, Indiana), put the Eagles in position to get onto the scoreboard in the third frame.
Johnson scored the first run on an RBI-groundout by junior first baseman Marleah Fossett (Brownsburg, Indiana), while senior catcher Haley Hodges’ (Portage, Indiana) sacrifice fly to right field in the next at-bat pushed Reese across the plate for the game-tying tally.
Freshman pitcher Jennifer Leonhardt (Louisville, Kentucky), meanwhile, settled down to retire 10 of the final 11 batters she faced to put the Eagles in position to win the contest. Leonhardt (28-2) earned the victory after giving up two runs off seven hits in seven innings of work. She walked just one batter and had five strikeouts in the win.
Game two of the best-of-three series has been moved to a 2 p.m. start Friday at the USI Softball Field. The “if necessary” game three is slated for Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Southern Indiana 3, Wayne State (MI) 2 (May 18, 2017 at Evansville, IN)
Wayne State (MI)…. 200 000 0 – 2 7 2 (40-15)
Southern Indiana…. 002 000 1 – 3 5 2 (45-12)
Pitchers: Wayne State (MI) – Butler,Lyndsay and Turkalj,Brooke. Southern Indiana –
Leonhardt, Jennifer and Hodges, Haley.
Win-Leonhardt, Jennifer(28-2) Loss-Butler,Lyndsay(24-10) T-1:35 A-217
Weather: Partly cloudy, warm