Softball team battles up the OVC ladder

The final weekend of softball action approaches as the Ohio Valley Conference battles for a top six finish to qualify for the tournament.

Eastern is currently seventh in the standings, but can finish as high as fourth place in a matter of a few games. The Panthers (9-32, 6-12) host Austin Peay (12-36, 7-9) Saturday and Sunday for their final three-game series.

Tennessee Tech and Southeast Missouri currently sits atop the league with 13-4 records in the OVC. The Golden Eagles improved their record Wednesday with a 8-0 win over Eastern Kentucky while Southeast Missouri took two games over Tennessee-Martin to stay with Tech. They will now battle for hosting privileges for the tournament.

Tennessee State (8-10), Austin Peay, Morehead State (6-11) and Eastern all hang in the middle of the conference with one being left at home during the start of the tournament May 4.

“We can finish as high as fourth after this weekend, so we’re looking to shoot up that ladder,” head coach Lloydene Searle said. “Eastern Kentucky, Tech and SEMO got off to a good start. A lot of things can happen with Tech, EKU and SEMO this weekend, but the No. 4 spot is up in the air.”

While the Panthers are battling the Governors at Williams Field, Tech will visit Tennessee-Martin, Tennessee State will travel to Eastern Kentucky and Southeast Missouri will host Morehead State.

“If it’s one thing our team has learned, it’s not to overlook anyone,” Searle said. “We’ve beaten everyone in the league at least once except Eastern Kentucky. We need to focus on what we can control and we can control ourselves.

Eastern comes off a doubleheader loss to DePaul Tuesday.

“DePaul is just really confident and they’re a Top 10

team,” Searle said. “They played like it too.

“I hope those experiences they learned will help them improve their game.”

Experience will be a drive for the Panthers as they head into this weekend.

“Our goal Saturday is to have all of our experience – and we’ve had a lot of obstacles to overcome to put things together out there – help us out and end our regular season at home with a strong finish.”

Austin Peay will be ready for the competition as the Governors battle to maintain at least their fifth place standing in the league.

“We’re going to go in and try to get the momentum right off,” Searle said.