USI Softball opens home series with doubleheader split


EVANSVILLE, Ind. – University of Southern Indiana Softball split its doubleheader against Tennessee State University at USI Softball Field on Saturday. The Screaming Eagles held on late in a competitive contest to win 5-4 in the opener before a 7-0 loss in the second game.

Saturday’s twin bill kicked off Senior Weekend and the final home series on the 2024 schedule for USI Softball.

In the first game, Tennessee State (24-21, 15-8 OVC) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning with a get them on, get them over, and get them in approach, as the leadoff hitter reached base and came around to score.

The Screaming Eagles (19-19, 13-10 OVC) bounced back immediately against the Tigers’ starting pitcher in the home half of the first. Three consecutive two-out singles by the middle of the order did the trick. RBI knocks from senior catcher Sammie Kihega (Greenfield, Indiana) and freshman infielder Sydney Long (Haubstadt, Indiana) put USI ahead 2-1.

In the middle innings, the Eagles’ offense extended the lead with a run in the third, fourth and fifth frames. The Tigers tallied a run in the fourth and fifth innings, but USI junior pitcher Josie Newman (Indianapolis, Indiana) got out of the jams and limited the damage by keeping USI ahead 5-3 through five innings of play.

Tennessee State threatened in the top of the seventh by loading the bases and even drawing to within one run of USI, 5-4, on a bases-loaded walk, but once again, Newman pitched out of trouble to clinch the series-opening victory for the Screaming Eagles.

Offensively, Tennessee State ended up with four runs on seven hits while Southern Indiana scored five runs off six hits.

Newman moved to 16-8 with the win, giving up four runs – three earned – with seven strikeouts in the complete game. Tennessee State junior starter Reina Castillo dropped to 7-6 with the loss after surrendering three runs in three innings of work.

In game 2, neither side could strike in the first inning like they did in the opener despite both having runners in scoring position in the first.

Defensive struggles, walks, and wild pitches stacked up against USI in the top of the second inning, allowing Tennessee State to take advantage and score four times. The Tigers added another tally in the third inning.

Sophomore pitcher Raegan Gibson (Louisville, Kentucky) halted Tennessee State’s momentum until the top of the fifth when the Tigers loaded the bases and brought home another run to take a 6-0 advantage.

USI again fell victim to miscues as the Tigers scored their seventh and final run in the seventh inning to seal the win, earn a doubleheader split, and force a decisive series rubber match on Sunday.

Southern Indiana junior starting pitcher Whitley Hunter (Nashville, Illinois) suffered the loss, giving up four unearned runs with four strikeouts in 1.2 innings to drop to 2-7 this season. Gibson tossed 5.1 innings and allowed three runs – one earned – in relief.

Tennessee State junior pitcher Caitlyn Manus went to 11-10 on the season with the shutout win. Manus gave up only two hits.

Both teams maintained their positioning in the Ohio Valley Conference standings on Saturday. USI remained in a tie for fourth place with Lindenwood University, and Tennessee State stayed put in third place. Only four games remain in the conference season.

The Screaming Eagles and Tigers conclude the weekend series Sunday at Noon from USI Softball Field. Senior Day ceremonies will take place following Sunday’s game, recognizing catcher Sammie Kihega (Greenfield, Indiana), first baseman Lexi Fair (Greenwood, Indiana), and outfielder Mackenzie Bedrick (Brownsburg, Indiana).

Sunday’s rubber game can be seen with a subscription to ESPN+ and heard on The Spin 95.7 FM. Additional coverage links can be found on the USI Softball schedule page on