Softball team ready for regular season

Sean Hastings, Staff reporter

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The Eastern softball team starts its season with a schedule that consists of games against three ranked teams.

The Panthers will be starting Friday, where they will take on USA Today’s No. 19 ranked LSU.

Games against No. 9 Louisiana-Lafayette will be on Saturday and Sunday. The Panthers will take on Incarnate Word on Saturday and Sunday.

 Also, the Panthers will take on No. 20 Auburn next weekend.

Nicholson said that the team’s goal in the long run is to win conference, but to just stay focused and take things day by day.

“With the schedule that we came up with, overall our goal is to play the best so that we can see what the best is like and see where we measure up and put our standards up with the best,” Nicholson said. “We’re going to see where we’re at and where we fall and see where we need to go to get to where they are. If you want to be the best you have to play the best.”

The first home game at Williams Field for the Panthers is scheduled for a double-header against Murray State on March 28.

Other notable games for the Panthers will be against Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville at the end of the season on May 2 and May 3.

SIUE is predicted to win the Ohio Valley Conference and Jacksonville State is predicted to finish second.

Eastern was picked to finish 7th in the conference after its season ended in a rainout at the OVC tournament last season.

The last time the Panthers saw live action was in September, where they had a two-weekend fall season held at Williams Field. Eastern went 7-1 over the two weeks.

The Panthers are a very young team this year with six out of the 16 members of the roster being freshman and only two are seniors.

Softball coach Angie Nicholson is back in her second year as head coach of the team.

Since the fall season, Nicholson has been working with the team on a lot of things because they are so young to get them ready for the season.

“We’re just really trying to figure out how we run things,” Nicholson said. “Another thing that we’ve been really honing in on mentally is just how to handle adversity because we are so young.”

Even though the team is so young, Nicholson said that are really buying in very quickly.

“The positive with being so young is that we’re going to get better and better everyday,” she said.

Nicholson hopes to see some of the same success she saw out of some of the players in the fall.

“(Junior) Kylie Bennett had phenomenal fall, and we’re hoping that continues through the spring, she just did a really great job,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson also mentioned fellow junior Haylee Beck has been looking very consistent.

She is looking for junior Jennette Isaac to continue to be the leadoff hitter as she was last year.

Nicholson added there are six pitchers on the roster this year, four of them being freshman.

Freshman Michelle Rogers and Jessica Wireman will two of the top pitchers for the Panthers this season, Nicholson said.

Other pitchers that Nicholson is happy with what she has seen from so far are sophomore’s Hannah Rochor, Amber Toenves , freshman Tori Johnson, and Taylor Miokovic.

“They all compliment each other very well so it will be interesting to see how we end up using those guys,” Nicholson said.

Sean Hastings can be reached at [email protected] or 581-2812.