Markowski, Bennett homer in win for Panthers

Sean Hastings, Staff reporter

The Panthers won a non-conference home game against Southern Illinois- Carbondale 4-0 Wednesday at Williams Field.

The win improves the Panthers regular season record to 18-24.

The Panthers’ offense was led by juniors April Markowski and Kylie Bennett, who both hit two-run home runs to give Eastern its four runs on the day

Sophomore Haylee Beck was on base for Markowski’s home run, and senior Hannah Cole was on for Bennett’s.

Bennett also hit a double and finished the day 2-for-3.

Even though the two home runs were key in the Panthers victory, Eastern coach Angie Nicholson would like to see the team pound the ball and be tough outs.

“I think we can do better,” Nicholson said. “We had those two great timely hits, which was great, but I’d rather see us be tougher outs. I’d rather see more hard shots.”

While the homeruns help the offense, it also makes the Panthers realize that these games can come down to one pitch.

“That has been our lesson all year,” Nicholson said. “We know that one pitch can go against us or go for us.”

Coming into the game, Nicholson wanted the Panthers to get extra looks to help them get ready for this weekend’s important conference games against Southern Illinois- Edwardsville.

One player that Nicholson wanted to get back to usual form is freshman pitcher, Michelle Rogers.

Rogers has struggled in her past few appearances, but pitched seven strong innings and shut out the Salukis. She had given up 13 runs in her last 5 2/3 innings pitched

In her seven innings of work Wednesday, Rogers struck out four, walked five and allowed only four hits.

Rogers allowed the bases to be loaded in the top of the first with two outs, but that would be the only time the Salukis really threatened to score.

Nicholson was happy to see Rogers have such a solid outing.

“She did fantastic,” Nicholson said. “She trusted her drop ball today. She just went with it instead of second- guessing it.”

Nicholson also said her demeanor on the mound was different compared to her recent starts.

“I feel like she was throwing and having fun rather than throwing and feeling pressure,” Nicholson said.

Rogers’ win improved her record to 7-12 and dropped her earned run average to 4.34.

The Panthers’ next test will be a series of home games against top seeded Southern Illinois Edwardsville, and Nicholson feels that they are ready but still wants to have everyone in the lineup and be tough outs to get the wins.

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