Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

RJ McGee (23), Jovan Stulic (33) and Trey Miller (25) huddle together during a timeout Dec. 2, 2023 at Banterra Center in Carbondale, Illinois.
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By Brandyn Wilcoxen, Managing Editor • February 22, 2024

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Jarrett Hensley (32) claps in celebration as the clock runs out to give SIU the win over Murray State Feb. 21, 2024 at Banterra Center in Carbondale, Illinois.
Horsin' Around: Salukis beat the Racers in a photo finish
By Jamilah Lewis, Sports Editor • February 21, 2024

Jarrett Hensley and Kennard Davis Jr. played heroes on Wednesday night, as both had key blocks in the final minute of a 72-68 victory for Southern...

African Week celebrates unity and tradition on campus
African Week celebrates unity and tradition on campus
By Annalise Schmidt, News Reporter • February 21, 2024

This week unfolds as a testament to diversity within the African continent and a call to recognize its contributions to the global community,...

Jackie’s Journey: From Saluki family ties to softball stardom

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When asked if there are any differences in her teammate Jackie Lis’s mindset this year compared to last, sophomore Erin Lee said, “I think she’s the same.”

The rest of the MVC likely doesn’t want to hear that. If SIU gets the same Jackie Lis as last year, it’s going to be a major threat to not only repeat as MVC Tournament Champions but win the regular season title behind the powerful bat of the sophomore shortstop.

In 2023, Lis had one of the most prolific offensive seasons in SIU history, setting the records for single-season home runs and single-season RBIs with 16 and 57, respectively. She had a .356 batting average and tied for the seventh-most hits all time with 62, and set the school record for single-game RBIs, driving in 8 runs against Murray State. 

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Lee, mainly a second base player, notes Lis’s confidence, a big factor in her breakout season.

“Her number one thing is just confidence and knowing that she basically owns the field, whether she’s doing bad or good,” Lee said. 

At the end of the season, Lis received plenty of accolades, being named to the All-MVC First Team, MVC All-Tournament, NFCA All-Region, and D1Softball Freshman All-American.

Entering the 2024 season, Lis has again been recognized for her excellence, listed at number 92 on D1Softball’s Preseason Top 100 Player List and number 9 on D1Softball’s Middle Infield Power Rankings list.

While Lis appreciates the recognition, she’s not ready to rest on her laurels.“I still kind of try to use it to push myself. I was 92 overall, so this year I’m gonna try to get into the top 50,” Lis said. 

Lis has several goals for the season, including raising her batting average, but one specific goal can  be tied back in part to her placement on the middle infield power rankings list.

“For the shortstop poll, they had all seniors and super seniors ahead of me… this season, I’m really going to try to lock it down on defense and get up to where those seniors are going to be leaving and try to take those spots as they’re getting pushed out,” Lis said. 

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If there is one weakness in Lis’s game, it would be the number of errors she gives up. In 2023, Lis led the team with 9.  That’s a number she’s determined to bring down in the upcoming season.

“I want to get that number down and lock it down on the left side. We have  Riley Hamilton right in front of me, and we all know she doesn’t make many errors, and I’ve got Elizabeth Warwick behind me in left field making all kinds of catches over the fence and sliding catches. So I don’t want to be the bum on the left side of the field,” Lis said.

While Lis contains plenty of natural ability, her family history likely contributed to her success. Her grandfather played eight seasons of Major League Baseball, while her father reached the Triple-A level with multiple organizations. The Lis family even has direct ties to SIU; Becky Lis, Jackie’s aunt, is a Saluki Hall of Famer, having played softball from 1994-1997. Becky Lis, a two-time All-American, holds the career record for batting average and is in the top 5 in several other career statistical categories. 

“It runs in our family,” Lis said. “My life revolves around softball and baseball and it always kind of has.”With the full backing of her family, Lis was able to dream of a collegiate softball career.

“It’s every travel ball player’s dream to play in college, so I always wanted to do that,” Lis said. “I would joke with my aunt when I was younger that I was gonna come here and break her records.”

The dream didn’t always seem like a possibility. Due to her small size, Lis had thought she would play D2 softball.“It was always kind of a joke because I was a small kid. We never really thought I would make it to division one… but then all of a sudden, you started looking at me and I was like, ‘I’m gonna go do it, Becky’. And then I committed here,” Lis said.

While it is expected that most players may face a bit of a challenge transitioning into the college level, Lis didn’t. She began her SIU career with a nine-game hitting streak. Lis’s credits her background for helping to prepare her to “continue with where they left off for me.”

“The baseball school that my dad has, it kind of keeps me motivated, because a lot of people don’t have such easy access to hitting,” Lis said. “But being able to do it for free with instructors that I’ve literally known my whole life, and that I know had success in their careers, also was a big push for me.”Lis is also hoping to help the Salukis make a big push during the upcoming season, though she recognizes that it will be an uphill battle.

“Something coach (Jen) Sewell also says to us is, ‘We’re always going to get everyone’s best game.’ Other teams are going to pitch their number one against us… we always get everybody’s best games because we always have that target on our back,” Lis said. 

While everyone on the team may improve, Lee thinks that Lis has already elevated her game through experience and may be even better in the upcoming season. 

“Taking that step to college ball, you’re always going to get more experience… so now in conference, or teams that we’re going to play again, she knows what to expect, and she knows they’re going to come after her,” Lee said.

Both Lee and Lis are excited to see how far this current team can go, and Lis’s supreme confidence shines through when asked about where she thinks the team will be in May.“I think with the team we returned, and the newcomers we brought in, I think this team could easily go back to that regional and win it,” Lis said. 

Sport reporter Ryan Grieser can be reached at [email protected]. To stay up to date on all your southern Illinois news, be sure to follow The Daily Egyptian on Facebook and on X @dailyegyptian.



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