Eastern baseball team readies for season

Sophomore+outfielder+Joseph+Duncan+narrowly+makes+it+to+first+during+the+Panthers%27+18-7+loss+to+Murray+State+on+March+28+at+Coaches+Stadium.++Duncan+had+one+run+on+two+hits+during+four+at+bats+during+the+game.
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Eastern baseball team readies for season

Sophomore outfielder Joseph Duncan narrowly makes it to first during the Panthers' 18-7 loss to Murray State on March 28 at Coaches Stadium.  Duncan had one run on two hits during four at bats during the game.

Sophomore outfielder Joseph Duncan narrowly makes it to first during the Panthers' 18-7 loss to Murray State on March 28 at Coaches Stadium. Duncan had one run on two hits during four at bats during the game.

Jason Howell

Sophomore outfielder Joseph Duncan narrowly makes it to first during the Panthers' 18-7 loss to Murray State on March 28 at Coaches Stadium. Duncan had one run on two hits during four at bats during the game.

Jason Howell

Jason Howell

Sophomore outfielder Joseph Duncan narrowly makes it to first during the Panthers' 18-7 loss to Murray State on March 28 at Coaches Stadium. Duncan had one run on two hits during four at bats during the game.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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The Eastern baseball team will get its 2016 season underway with a three-game series with Southern Mississippi Feb. 19-21 in Hattiesburg, Miss.

The Panthers lost the first 23 games of the 2015 season before getting their first win of the season against Tennessee Tech. Eastern would go on to win 12 more games and lose 13 more, finishing 13-36 overall and 9-21 in Ohio Valley Conference games.

Following the end of the season, coach Jim Schmitz was fired after spending 21 years at Eastern. Schmitz finished with a 538-576-1 overall record. He won 10 more games than any other coach in Eastern history.

Former assistant coach Jason Anderson took over the head coach job after spending three years as an assistant. Anderson spent 11 years playing at the professional level as a pitcher.

Eastern lost eight players to graduation last year, including its top hitter, Caleb Howell. Howell hit .407 on the season and drove in 35 runs.

The Panthers, however, brought in eight freshmen for and returned eight seniors for the 2016 season.

The Panthers brought in infielder/outfielder Dane Toppel, infielder Jimmy Govern, infielder Nick Maton, outfielder Tyler Tesmond, infielder/outfielder/pitcher Jordan Flint, outfielder Jackson Mueller, pitcher Ryan Bund, pitcher Cole Berry, pitcher Austin Warrem, and catcher Zack Forney.

Senior pitcher Jake Johansmeier is returning for the Panthers after pitching the most innings last year. Johansmeier threw 74 innings and posted a 6.81 earned run average. Sophomore pitcher Luke Dietz posted the best earned run average for the Panthers last year with a 3.07 ERA. Dietz threw 14.2 innings.

Senior outfielder Demetre Taylor is also back for one more year. Taylor posted the third highest batting average on the team last year with an average of .384. He also led the team with 46 runs batted in, nine home runs, and four triples. He also stole six bases in 2015.

Eastern will play 13 non-conference games until before they take on Austin Peay March 11. Their first home game will be March 1 against Indiana State.

The Panthers will take on 2014 College World Series Champion and 2015 College World Series runner up Vanderbilt Feb. 24.

Former pitcher for Vanderbilt Carson Fulmer was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the first round in the MLB draft in June of 2015.

The Panthers will start to regularly play OVC games March 24 when they host Jacksonville State. Eastern will host 2015 OVC champion Morehead State May 6-8 in a three-game series.

Eastern will also travel up to Champaign to take on the Fighting Illini April 5. Illinois will also come to Mattoon to take on the Panthers April 9.

Eastern has a chance to bounce back this year after having a rough 2015 season.

 

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