Wireman successes on the mound continue

Sean Hastings, Staff reporter

Freshman pitcher on the Eastern softball team, Jessica Wireman, has been heavily relied on this season and has continued to improve all year.

Kylie Bennett, a junior, makes a swing at the ball at the EIU vs Jackson State softball game on Sunday at the softball field.
Jordan Gay
Kylie Bennett, a junior, makes a swing at the ball at the EIU vs Jackson State softball game on Sunday at the softball field.

Her latest accomplishment came on Sunday afternoon when she tossed her first collegiate no hitter against conference rival UT Martin.

Wireman’s no-hitter helped secure the 3-0 win for the Panthers.

Being a freshman, getting her first no-hitter was very special for Wireman.

“It was really special,” Wireman said. “I didn’t think it would come this early, I actually never even thought I’d get a no-hitter. It never really crossed my mind.

Although this was Wireman’s first no-hitter in college, it is not the first time she has done it. She threw one while she was in high school in a five inning run rule game.

Even though it wasn’t her first one, this no hitter means more to Wireman.

“(UT Martin) was actually a good team,” Wireman said. “We didn’t run rule them. I actually had to compete with them for seven innings.”

The Panthers lost game before 8-4. Throwing the no hitter against a good hitting team was a big accomplishment for her.

“I know that they’re a good hitting team so it felt good,” Wireman said.

Wireman had no idea that she had a no-hitter going until the fifth inning.

Wireman said when she went out for the fifth inning she looked up at the scoreboard and realized that she had not let up a hit.

Once Wireman noticed that she had a no-hitter, she didn’t want the thought of finishing it to stick in her head.

“I thought about, not thinking about it,” Wireman said. “I just tried to focus on the batters as much as possible and hitting my spots and spinning (the ball).”

She said her screwball and changeup were working the best for her.

Wireman was able to get the batters to be out in front of the ball and hit grounders to the left side of the infield.

Out of the 21 outs made in the game, only four were strikeouts. The Panthers’ defense had to make the plays when the ball was hit to them.

“We’ve had really good defense lately,” Wireman said. “It’s really helped. I’m glad our defense is doing what we know they’ve been able to do the whole time.”

Being able to relax was what helped Wireman pitch the gem that she did.

Wireman said throughout the seventh inning when she came down to the final three outs she usually gets pretty nervous.

For Eastern coach Angie Nicholson, being able to coach her in her first no-hitter was very special for her.

“It was really special, because I have watched this young lady grow tremendously as a pitcher and work very hard,” Nicholson said. “She has taken a great deal of slack earlier in the year, and I am sure she has been doubted and even questioned herself if she should be at this level.”

All year long, Wireman has faced tough competition and even some of the best teams in the nation.

For her first career start, Wireman pitched against the now No.2 team in the nation, LSU.

She pitched five innings, allowed six runs but only one of which was earned.

“We played World Series type teams, and the best hitters in the nation,” Nicholson said. “We have talked several times about how to be effective at this level and how different it is from high school, and she has been growing from her experiences. I am very proud of her.”

Wireman said getting the college experience and learning how to pitch in college has been her biggest improvement.

She said making the mistakes and giving up the homeruns is what has helped her become the pitcher she is now.

“There’s so much more that goes into it,” Wireman said. “There’s more than just spinning it more. Just the mental part I think I’ve probably improved on the most and knowing my defense is behind me and I don’t have to have all the strikeouts to get the win.”

Wireman has been relied on a lot this year, but tries to not let the whole idea of being a freshman get to her.

Wireman has pitched 105 innings on the year. She has 69 strikeouts which leads the team.

She also has a 4.07 ERA with a 7-10 record.

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