USI grabs another OVC series win with Senior Day victory


EVANSVILLE, Ind. – University of Southern Indiana Softball closed its 2024 home schedule at USI Softball Field on Sunday by grabbing an 8-2 win over Tennessee State University, clinching its sixth Ohio Valley Conference series win, behind the leadership of the 2024 senior class for the Screaming Eagles.
In Southern Indiana’s (20-19, 14-10 OVC) home half of the first inning, the USI seniors wasted no time making an immediate impact in Sunday’s contest. Seniors Mackenzie Bedrick (Brownsburg, Indiana) and Lexi Fair (Greenwood, Indiana) joined sophomore Caroline Stapleton (Shirley, Indiana) in getting on board and loading the bases. Then senior Sammie Kihega (Greenfield, Indiana) lifted a pitch opposite field and over the right field fence for her second grand slam and fourth home run of the season to put USI up early, 4-0.
Tennessee State (24-22, 15-9 OVC) cut USI’s lead in half, 4-2, following a sac fly in the third inning and another sac fly in the fourth frame. The Tigers threatened for more in the fourth, but USI junior pitcher Josie Newman (Indianapolis, Indiana) ended the threat and the inning with her 200th strikeout of the 2024 campaign.
Following a highlight diving catch by Bedrick in the top of the fifth, Kihega added to her day at the plate and to the USI lead with an RBI double to left field in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kihega’s fifth RBI on the afternoon gave the Screaming Eagles a 5-2 advantage.
The Screaming Eagles posted extra insurance in the bottom of the sixth inning when junior infielder Hailey Gotshall (Lucerne, Indiana) drove in junior outfielder Kennedy Nalley (Huntingburg, Indiana) with a bases-loaded RBI single. Fair followed with a sac fly to bring home Bedrick, and then Kihega put the icing on the series-clinching victory with an RBI single to increase USI’s lead to 8-2.
Behind the offensive spark by the three seniors and the top of the batting lineup, Southern Indiana registered eight runs on 12 hits. Bedrick finished with two hits and two runs, while Fair had a hit, a run, and an RBI. Kihega went 3-3 with a run and a USI season-high six RBIs at the plate. Stapleton also recorded a three-hit day with three runs scored.
Newman picked up her 17th win of the season (17-8), holding Tennessee State to two runs – one earned – off four hits in the complete game. The right-hander struck out four in the contest.
Tennessee State junior pitcher Caitlyn Manus was charged with the loss, going to 11-11 this year. Manus pitched the first five innings, surrendering five runs off seven hits.
Not only did Sunday’s win add to the senior day festivities recognizing Bedrick, Fair, and Kihega, but the victory also moved Southern Indiana into sole possession of fourth in the Ohio Valley C