Softball team set to begin fall season


Jason Howell

Sophomore pitcher Michelle Rogers throws out a pitch during the Panthers' 6-1 win against Illinois Central College on Sept. 27, 2014 at Williams Field. The Panthers face Danville Area Community College in a doubleheader on Friday.

Sean Hastings, Assistant Sports Editor

The Eastern softball team will kick-off its fall portion of the schedule with eight games at Williams Field missing its top two hitters from last season.

Shortstop Bailey O’Dell and catcher Hannah Cole were both lost to graduation.

O’Dell and Cole were both at the top in Panthers’ batting average last year. Cole led with a .361 average and O’Dell had the third highest with .338.

Besides O’Dell and Cole, everyone else has returned including seniors Jennette Isaac, Haylee Beck, April Markowski, Katie Watson and Kylie Bennett.

Markowski, having been through this three times already, knows how important this fall season is even though it does not count toward their regular season record. Markowski also had the second highest batting average on the team last year at .349.

“What I (want to) get out of this fall season is coming out feeling ‘yeah, this is a great group of girls and we are going to be successful,’” Markowski said.

She added that the fall season is especially important for the freshmen to get the feel of how college ball is played to be ready when they play the big schools later in the year.

The Panthers have five freshmen on the roster this year in outfielder Kayla Bear, utility player Maria DeVito, utility player Jennifer Ames, infielder Mady Poulter, and catcher/infielder Ashley Brown.

“This weekend being my first college games I would say I am feeling somewhat nervous but nothing too serious,” Ames said. “I am beyond excited though.”

Ames added that the upperclassmen have helped her and the rest of the freshmen adjust to college on and off the field.

“They’ve really helped me get adjusted to my schedule,” Ames said. “Also, I’ve never really had teammates like them before that go absolutely nuts for you when you do something good. The feeling is such a rush and it makes anything worth it.”

Transfer junior infielder Kaitlyn Crossen is also new to the roster this year. She transferred from Lake Land College.

Also returning are the Panthers’ main pitchers from last year in sophomores Jessica Wireman and Michelle Rogers who both racked up a lot of innings last year. Wireman led the team with 153.1 innings pitched and Rogers pitched 135.1 innings.

The Panthers will open their season on Friday with a doubleheader against Danville Area Community College with the first game starting at 5 p.m. and the second game starting right after.

Olney Central College will also come to Eastern for a doubleheader on Sept. 25. The Panthers will also take on Lincoln Land Community College on Sept. 27.

To finish up the fall season, the Panthers will host Lake Land College for another doubleheader Oct. 4.


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