Eastern splits weekend with Skyhawks
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A sound game. That is what Eastern had in the first game of its doubleheader with the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks. That was lost a bit in the second game and Eastern lost because of it.
Both games ended 3-1, but the first game Eastern was much better overall. The Panthers did not do anything over the top; they made good plays, no errors, had good at bats that produced timely hitting.
A double by senior Amber Toenyes, sac fly by junior Tori Johnson and taking advantage of an error by Tennesee-Martin gave Eastern three runs.
Another stand-out play the Panthers had was freshman Haley Mitchell throwing out Gabby Zizzi trying to steal second in the first game.
And by nature, junior Jessica Wireman was once again lights out in the circle. She dropped her ERA down to 2.22, picked up her 13th win and struck out seven batters in her complete game in game one.
Eastern had six hits in each game, but instead of having things happen at a good time, everything fell apart at the worst time in the second game.
As strong as Wireman was on the mound in game one, it set the stage for junior Michelle Rogers to perform as well in game two. And she did. But simple mistakes, and nothing by her, cost the Panthers the game.
Eastern is still 9-3 and still near the top of the Ohio Valley Conference, but it could have been a weekend sweep.
Game two had close to a 50-minute rain delay, but coach Kim Schuette said that had nothing to do with it.
“You have to be tough enough to handle that because the other team had a rain delay too,” Schuette said.
But in the bottom of the fourth, just out of the rain delay, Toenyes launched a solo home run to right field for a 1-0 lead, but it could have been and maybe should have been a two-run shot.
Junior Taylor Monahan led of the inning with a single and stole second. But on Haley Mitchell’s fly out to centerfield, Monahan tagged early and was doubled off second base. Toenyes homered right after.
The lightning delay was called during Mitchell’s at bat with a 2-2 count.
“(Their) pitcher was throwing well, it was a 2-2 count and (Mitchell) smokes the ball to center so maybe the rain delay helped her because she didn’t look to good earlier in that at bat,” Schuette said. “She smokes the ball to center and then our kid (Monahan) was really excited and left five years early. So double play, ouch, on one pitch.”
With Monahan’s speed, it was not necessary to leave so early, but mistakes happen.
Back to Rogers, though. She was pitching so well that she had a no-hitter up until the fifth inning and the first hit was a weak blooper in between, over the heads and just out of the reach of third baseman Johnson and junior short stop Kiley Pelker.
The ball dropped in and Pelker made an error fielding it, allowing Alicia Hansen to score and tie the game. Pelker’s throw home was wild and Alexa Combs was able to score all the way from first.
“When you’re playing a good team, mistakes hurt,” Schuette said. “We made three maybe four costly mistakes in this game two and handed them some runs and they took advantage of them.”
Schuette said they cannot be cautious and have to play aggressively and that did not show up some times.
“I thought a couple times ‘we’ve got to go get the ball instead of just standing and waiting for someone else to get the ball meanwhile their runners were going 120 feet instead of 60,” Schuette said.
Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or firstname.lastname@example.org