Toenyes looks to be run producer


Chynna Miller

Sophomore first baseman Amber Toenyes got two RBI’s for the softball team against Bulter University on Feb 21. Toenyes is tied for the team lead in RBI’s with eight.

Sean Hastings, Staff reporter

Sophomore Amber Toenyes is seeing improvements after just one year of playing first base and pitching for the Eastern softball team.

She said she has mentally improved over the past year.

“I think when you come in you have this expectation of how you’re going to do, and how everything is going to stack up,” she said. “But it changes really quick. So, you have to adjust and get used to that.”

She said she has finally come into herself as a player.

She is able to zone in on improving her physical parts of her game with that extra mental focus.

“She’s really trying to be aware of her swing,” head coach Angie Nicholson said. “And doing the best she can to be as perfect as she can.”

Toenyes’ can pitch, but her primary position is first base, where she has seen 11 out of 12 starts.

“It’s always been a 50/50 split between first and pitching,” she said. “I feel like I’m the most comfortable when I am playing first base.”

Toenyes said her change to being more comfortable at first happened recently.

She used to pitch more and be more comfortable there when she was younger, but once she started playing at a higher level she became more of a first baseman.

She has not pitched yet this year, but continues to work on it everyday in practice. Nicholson said she would like to see her to continue to improve to be one of the rotation pitchers on the team.

Her softball career started when she was five years old when she began tee-ball, and moved to slow pitch, and it went from there.

“I think just like everyone else your parents see that you are doing well so they try to test it,” she said. “So I tried out for a select team when I was 10.”

She said Brett Swip, who was the head of the Extreme Elite Club Team Toenyes played for, helped her get to where she is today.

That team helped her get recruited by Eastern.

“He definitely had a huge influence on my life,” Toenyes said.

She also attributes her success to high school coaches Lori Blade and Donna Farley at Edwardsviille.

“They were both very influential and definitely made me into the player I am today,” she said.

Nicholson describes Toenyes as an extremely hard worker.

“She is really fun to watch,” Nicholson said. “She goes hard, no matter what it is, if it’s sprinting, diving after balls, she goes after it.”

Toenyes is currently batting .265 on the season for the Panthers. She has also added two homeruns and has driven in eight runs.

Her two homeruns came in the same game this year in Eastern’s 6-1 win on February 7 against Incarnate Word.

That game is her most memorable moment playing softball at Eastern.

“I felt like everything was clicking,” Toenyes said. “I felt like my swing was starting to come together.”

Toenyes looks to senior Hannah Cole to watch as a hitter.

She said likes how aggressive she is as a hitter, and pitchers look scared when they face her.

Toenyes knew she wanted to play softball in college at a young age.

“Ever since my seventh grade of middle school I decided that I wanted to play softball in college,” she said. “So then I just worked towards that.”

She decided to come to Eastern because she felt like she was at home when she was here on her visit. She is currently majoring in biological sciences with a teacher certification.

“The coaches and the teammates really made me feel like I was welcome,” Toenyes said.

She said also enjoyed that she is two hours away from her Edwardsville home.

“It’s far enough but it’s close enough,” she said.

One of Toenyes’ goals for the season is to be a big run producer.

“I want to be that person in the lineup that people see come up and say ‘she’s going to make something happen here,’” she said.

She said she wants to enjoy her time here and take everything in and love every minute of her college career.

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