Softball starts season in Louisiana


Jason Howell

Freshman pitcher Tori Johnson slides back to first in a game against Iliinois Central College on Sept. 27 at Williams Field. The Panthers swept the Cougars 6-1 and 3-2.

Sean Hastings, Staff Reporter

The Eastern softball team starts off its schedule this weekend playing two teams in the USA Today Top 25 Poll.

The first game will be against No. 19 LSU in Baton Rouge, La. at 6:30 p.m.

They will then move to Lafayette, La. to take on the No. 9 team in the country University of Louisiana-Lafayette and the University of Incarnate Word in a pair of double-headers on Saturday and Sunday.

The first game on Saturday will start at 3 p.m. against Lafayette and 5:30 p.m. against Incarnate Word on Saturday. On Sunday, the Panthers will play Incarnate Word first at 11:30 a.m. and then Lafayette at 2 p.m.

The Panthers will start freshman Jessica Wireman in the season-opener against LSU on Friday.

Second year head coach Angie Nicholson doesn’t know who else will be pitching for the Panthers, but said it will be nice to see the other pitchers to get in the game to see how they follow up behind Wireman.

LSU is known for their speed, which is what the Panthers will have to be able to control in the game.

“LSU is speedy, they’re fast, and they get the ball in play,” Nicholson said. “Their leadoff batter is a tough out, not only does she have short game, but she’ll lead the game off with a homerun. So we’ve got to really keep her off balance and off base.”

She led the team last year in stolen bases, stealing 38-of-40 attempts.

“LSU is fundamentally good,” Nicholson said.

For Louisiana-Lafayette, they will not run, but they will sit back and “rock the ball.”

“We’ll just have to find a way to keep the ball in the yard,” Nicholson said.

What Nicholson wants this weekend with the tough schedule is the girls to face adversity.

“I want to see what they do when things aren’t going their way,” Nicholson said.

She added that she wants the team to be able to control the controllables and not worry about the uncontrollables.

If they hit the ball over the fence, there is nothing they can do defensively about that, but offensively they can answer back.

She also wants the team to know that it is a team effort and be there to pick each other up when needed.

The Panthers have not been able to practice outside in a long time because of the cold, so the team has been limited to what they are able to do in the field house for practices.

Nicholson feels that speed of the game will take a minute to adjust to especially playing a team like LSU who likes to run a lot, but other than that she feels that the team is ready to play.

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