Baseball team heading to Arkansas for three-game series

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File Photo

Former first baseman Adam Casson catches the ball in an attempt to get a player out at first base.

Jack Arkus, Staff Reporter

Eastern is set to square off against the No. 12 ranked Arkansas Razorbacks starting Friday afternoon for a three-game series in Fayetteville, Ark.

As a team, the Panthers sit at 0-8 coming into the weekend, while the Razorbacks had their eight-game winning streak snapped earlier this week by Louisiana Tech as they fell to 8-1 on the season.

Jason Anderson, Eastern head coach, is in his first year leading the team, and he is eager to pick up his first win. Opposing coach, Dave Van Horn, has had much experience coaching the Razorbacks as he is in the early weeks of his 27th season as head coach for Arkansas.

The wet conditions during the week kept the Panthers from their home opener against Indiana State, and has allowed the team to get some more reps on the turf at O’Brien Field.

Red-shirt senior Matt Wivinis will represent Eastern on Friday night as he caps off the series on the mound. As for Saturday’s game, right-handed junior Michael McCormick, will get the start for the game. He is looking to record his first win and keep the hits to a minimum. Brendon Allen, a right-handed senior, will close the series as he makes his second start of the season for the Panthers Sunday afternoon.

Andy Fisher, sophomore pitcher for the Panthers, will be ready for relief if needed after coming off a strong showing last weekend against Central Arkansas. He pitched 6.2 scoreless innings and recorded 10 strikeouts. This will be the 2nd top-25 team Eastern will face this season. As usual, coach Anderson is confident in both his offense and defense.

“We are competing this weekend like we typically would against any other team,” Anderson said. “It’s more than just showing up. We need to play.”

Anderson knows his team is capable of competing with top-ranked opponents. Though the pitching will need to be strong, bringing the bats and playing fundamental baseball is a bigger element in itself. Demetre Taylor, who had an outstanding junior season at the plate, will be back in the lineup for the Panthers this weekend. Like last season, Taylor looks to provide an offensive spark while covering ground in the outfield.

“Demetre is fast, strong, and can hit forever. We are happy to have him back,” Anderson said.

The Panthers have been outscored by their opponents, 62-18, this season. Despite the two games that got away from them, Anderson feels as if this season so far has been nothing but improvement on their part. He sees the first month of this season as a stepping-stone for what the team has to offer for the rest of the year and is nothing but proud of his team, he said.

Freshman outfielder, Dane Toppel, comes into Friday’s game with five hits in six games on the season. He currently holds a five-game hitting streak, including one double, a stolen base and has scored six times while on base. He is one of the 10 true freshmen that make up the young Panther squad.

Arkansas is 24-1 all-time against Eastern.

Jack Arkus can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]