USI shuts out SIUE to open OVC Tournament


PEORIA, Ill. – University of Southern Indiana Softball opened its 2024 Ohio Valley Conference Championship Tournament run in Peoria, Illinois, with a 4-0 victory over Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on Wednesday evening.
The 8-seeded SIUE Cougars (19-34, 10-17 OVC) defeated no. 5 University of Tennessee at Martin earlier on Wednesday, 6-1, to earn the right to face the 4-seeded USI Screaming Eagles (23-20, 16-11).
Southern Indiana scored a big first run of the game in the bottom of the first inning. With two outs, USI put together an offensive run. After a walk and a single, freshman infielder Sydney Long (Haubstadt, Indiana) struck a pitch back up the middle to put USI on the scoreboard, 1-0.
Both sides went scoreless in the second and third innings. The Screaming Eagles grabbed a little more momentum in the fourth inning. Sophomore outfielder Caroline Stapleton (Shirley, Indiana) generated some energy with a highlight catch to end the top of the fourth inning, crashing into the fence in foul territory down the right-field line and reaching over to make the catch.
The excitement from Stapleton’s catch carried over into the bottom of the fourth inning at the plate for the Eagles. Long led off with a double and scored in the next at-bat on an RBI double by USI’s starting junior pitcher Josie Newman (Indianapolis, Indiana), who helped her own cause. Later in the bottom of the fourth, USI scored again with two outs with an RBI single from junior outfielder Kennedy Nalley (Huntingburg, Indiana), giving Southern Indiana a 3-0 advantage through four innings.
Southern Indiana added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Following a double and a single to start the frame, Nalley picked up her second RBI of the night with a sac fly and pushed USI up 4-0.
From there, Newman and the Screaming Eagles finished out the shutout win to advance in the winner’s bracket.
Long finished 3-3 with a run and an RBI at the plate for USI. Nalley tallied a pair of RBIs in the game.
Newman was credited with her 20th win of the season, moving to 20-8 on the campaign. The right-hander struck out nine in the two-hit shutout.
SIUE senior pitcher Kelsey Ray tossed a complete game for the Cougars, dropping to 8-10 with the loss. Ray surrendered four runs off 10 hits.
The Screaming Eagles will next play Thursday at 12:30 p.m. against top-seeded Eastern Illinois University from Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria, Illinois.