Softball team on cusp of tournament berth

Sean Hastings, Staff reporter

Heading into the final weekend of conference play, the Southern Illinois-Edwardsville softball team sits atop the standings in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Edwardsville will hang on to the top spot in the conference if the team gets one win this weekend at Eastern Illinois.

Eastern Illinois has a tough weekend ahead as they will be taking on Edwardsville in three home games at Williams Field.

Even though they are playing the top team in the conference, the Panthers still have to play just like they are any other team.

“We definitely can’t sike ourselves out before we even play them,” freshman Tori Johnson said. “We have to prepare like they are any other team but know that we still have to go our hardest.”

The Panthers will have to continue the strong hitting they saw in their last game against Southeast Missouri this past weekend. One win from the Panthers should be good enough to punch their ticket to the tournament.

Freshman pitchers Jessica Wireman and Michelle Rogers have been relied on heavily and pitched in big games this year, but this weekend’s games will be their biggest test.

Wireman has a team high 3.82 earned run average. Rogers has a 4.64 ERA.

With everything being so close, Eastern will have to be at its best.

“We can’t take any game for granted,” Johnson said. “Especially with everything being so close and coming down to one game. We have to go full force in every game that we play.”

UT-Martin will also be looking to hold onto its spot in the top eight as they also have a tough weekend ahead taking on Murray State.

Southeast Missouri could even jump into the top eight based on how many wins it can get this weekend.

The Redhawks will be taking on a 5-19 Austin Peay team in a three-game set this weekend. Austin Peay will not have a chance to play in the tournament.

Tennessee State has also been eliminated along with Belmont.

If Belmont won all three games this weekend and UT-Martin lost all three, UT-Martin will still have the tiebreaker with Belmont.

Another big series this weekend will be between Tennessee Tech (13-10) and Morehead State (10-9).

Every team’s goal at the beginning of the season is to make it to this tournament to then have a shot at winning. This weekend’s games can decide if those goals can be achieved or not.

The tournament will start May 6 and last until May 9.

The tournament will be set up in bracket style. The No. 1 seed will play the No. 8 seed, No. 2 will play No. 7, No. 4 will play No. 5 and the No. 3 will play the No. 6 seed.

It is also a double-elimination tournament so if a team loses, it will still be able to play for the championship.

This weekend will be a big weekend for the OVC softball teams to see who makes it, who does not, and where each team will be seeded.

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