University of Southern Indiana Softball captured the program’s first-ever national championship Monday with a sweep of Saint Anselm College in the finals of the NCAA Division II Softball Championship at the James I. Moyer Complex in Salem Monday.
The Screaming Eagles (41-23) blanked Saint Anselm in game one, 4-0, before routing Hawks, 8-3, in game two of the best-of-three series.
After capturing the win in the opener, the Eagles wasted little time establishing control of the second game as USI scored seven times, all with two outs, in the bottom of the second inning to build an insurmountable 7-0 cushion. The Eagles sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning and got RBIs hits from six different players as they essentially wrapped up the national title with five innings to play.
Led by 17th-year Head Coach Sue Kunkle, the Eagles became the first softball program in the state of Indiana to win a national championship at any level and the first women’s sport in USI history to capture a team national title. Additionally, USI became just the second Great Lakes Valley Conference team and second Midwest Region team to win an NCAA II title in softball, joining Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (2007).
The Eagles became the 17th team in NCAA II history to sweep the NCAA II Softball Championship as they posted a perfect 5-0 record, with wins over three nationally-ranked teams and another that was receiving votes.
Southern Indiana pitcher Jennifer Leonhardt was named the tournament’s most outstanding player after posting a 5-0 record with a 1.44 ERA, a .091 opponent batting average and 40 strikeouts in 34 innings of work during the tournament. Claire Johnson, Caitlyn Bradley and senior third baseman Mena Fulton joined Leonhardt on the All-Tournament team.