Freshman pitcher off to strong start

Sean Hastings, Staff reporter

Freshman softball pitcher Jessica Wireman is off to a strong start after first career starts at Louisiana this past weekend.

Wireman’s first regular season career start came against No. 19 Louisiana State University.

When Wireman got the news that she was getting the start against LSU, she said she called her high school coach, Josh Bloomer at Louisville Male right away. Wire said Bloomer taught her almost everything she knows about softball.

“He’s my go to guy,” Wireman said. “I call him for everything softball.”

Wireman said that he just talked her through it telling her that it’s okay and just breathe.

“I just listened to him,” she said. “I was nervous of course but not near as nervous as I could have been.”

Wireman’s start against LSU was her first real start since high school.

“It was a crazy experience,” Wireman said. “It was really nerve-racking because it was my first start out of high school,”

Wireman said that her hand was shaking the whole first inning against LSU, but eventually did calm down after that.

Despite all of her nerves, she only gave up one run in that inning and the only earned run she gave up in the game.

Eastern would eventually lose 6-1.

Wireman pitched five innings. She gave up eight hits, struck out two, and walked one.

Wireman had a very successful start against Incarnate Word, pitching all seven innings and giving up zero earned runs. She had six strikeouts, two walks, and gave up six hits in her seven innings of the Panthers’ 6-1 win.

Wireman was back on the mound the following morning for another game against Incarnate Word.

She came in for the final 1 and 2/3 innings to record the save for the Panthers.

She gave up one earned run, but the Panthers prevailed giving them their second win on the year 7-4.

Wireman finished the weekend with 18 2/3 innings pitched with nine strikeouts, and a 4.13 ERA.

Second-year head coach Angie Nicholson said she was satisfied with how Wireman pitched against the tough competition.

“I was pretty satisfied, I didn’t really know what to expect,” Nicholson said. “I think she really held her own.”

Wireman is used to the big workload of having to pitch a lot innings in a short amount of time. Wireman pitched in seven games over three days during a state tournament during high school.

Wireman, a geology major, started playing softball before she was 10-years old when her dad’s friend Jennifer Ore suggested the idea that she should try softball. Wireman was in gymnastics at the time.

“I was in a rec league for about a year, and I was pretty good for just starting,” Wireman said. “So then I went and tried out for a travel team and I ended up making it and from then on I was just hooked on softball.”

Once she started playing, she quit gymnastics and put all of her time into softball.

She said she knew that she wanted to play college softball from a very young age because of Jennie Finch.

“I remember telling my dad, ‘dad I want to be just like Jennie Finch’”, Wireman said. “At the time she was in college so I worked really hard because I wanted to go to big colleges.”

Wireman was planning on going to Cleveland State University to play for Nicholson and assistant coach Stephanie Taylor. But once they moved to Eastern, Wireman followed.

“I’m glad I’m here because of the atmosphere,” Wireman said.

She said her biggest improvement has been pitching speed and control since coming here in the fall.Wireman said her two favorite pitches to throw are curveballs and screwballs.

Wireman said Senior catcher Hannah Cole is one of the main players who has helped her through her first year.

Wireman said that when she got here she had a “do I belong here moment” and she said that Cole was the one that talked her through it. She said Cole told her that everyone feels that way, and she herself felt that way her freshman year.

She said having the pitcher-catcher relationship with Cole has helped her too.

“She knows my pitches and she knows me pitching, so it’s easy to talk to her.” Wireman said.

Cole said she is pleased with what Wireman is able to do so far, and with how she pitched in Louisiana.

“She didn’t let the pressure get to her and kept bouncing back harder and harder,” Cole said. “If she can keep that confidence and continue to work hard in games and practice she will be a great asset to our team’s success this year.”

When Wireman prepares herself for a start, she imagines herself pitching against the opponent and doing well.

Wireman said her biggest challenge in her softball career came during her junior year of high school. Wireman had inflammation in her shoulder and it caused her tendons and bone to rub together which forced her to sit out for a majority of the season.She returned in time to pitch in regionals and state for her team, but would end up losing the first two games.

The following year her team returned to the state championship tournament, which she said was her greatest memory of her career so far.

Wireman pitched the first game against the reigning champions and pitched the whole game. The game only lasted five innings because her team won 13-0 and the 10-run rule was put into effect.

“We won our first game, so it was like getting over that first hump,” Wireman said.

Her team would end up taking third at state.

“It was really exciting,” Wireman said.

Wireman said she wants to become the top pitcher in the Ohio Valley Conference and wants Eastern to win the conference.

Wireman and the rest of the Panthers travel to Alabama to compete at the Auburn Tiger Invitational this weekend starting on Friday.

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