Softball heads on OVC road trip

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

The Eastern softball team took a break from Ohio Valley Conference games this week taking on Butler and DePaul on Tuesday and Wednesday but will head to Jacksonville State Friday to resume conference play.

The Panthers will also take on Tennessee Tech on Saturday.

Eastern went 1-2 in the three games it played this week. The Panthers had a late game loss to Butler on Tuesday allowing the only three runs in the top of the seventh inning.

Sophomore pitcher Michelle Rogers started the game on the mound but came back out in the first game of the doubleheader against DePaul and got the win. She allowed just one run in her seven innings of work.

Coach Angie Nicholson said Rogers’ strong pitching in back-to-back days will give her and her teammates more confidence moving forward.

The win improved Rogers’ record to 2-3 on the year.

The Panthers did lose the second game of the doubleheader with DePaul on Wednesday, however.
Sophomore pitcher Wireman took the loss in that game on the mound and will head into the series with Jacksonville State with a record of 7-13. Wireman was named OVC Player of the Week for her performance last week against Bradley and Tennessee-Martin.

The Panthers’ OVC record is currently 3-0 after they swept Tennessee-Martin in the opening weekend of OVC play last weekend.

Eastern’s first game of OVC play resulted in an 8-0 shutout in six innings, the second game ended in a 5-4 walk-off in the seventh, and the final game ended 3-2 after the Panthers took the lead in the sixth inning.

Senior outfielder April Markowski was the Panthers’ top hitter during the week going 4-9, scoring one run and driving in one run.

Wireman leads the OVC in shutouts with three, and she is also in fifth for strikeouts per seven innings pitched averaging 6.5.

The Jacksonville State Gamecocks are 3-0 in OVC play as well after sweeping Tennessee Tech last weekend.

Jacksonville State will be riding a four-game win streak into the game with Eastern. Jacksonville State is 25-12 all-time against the Panthers.

Ella Denes leads the Gamecocks’ offense with a .381 batting average with 32 hits. She has hit seven doubles this season along with two home runs.

Unlike the Panthers, Jacksonville State utilizes more than two pitchers. Wireman and Rogers are the only pitchers Eastern uses regularly, but the Gamecocks have a six-pitcher rotation.

Casey Akenberger has pitched the most for Jacksonville State with a 6-2 record this season. She has pitched 47.2 innings this season and has recorded a 2.50 ERA.

Whitney Gillespie has the best record for Jacksonville State at 1.75. She has a 2-1 record in 28 innings pitched.

After spending the first month and a half of the season playing non-conference games, the Panthers will play a majority of OVC games the rest of the season.

Looking ahead past Jacksonville State, the Panthers will head to Cookeville, Tenn., to take on Tennessee Tech in a two-game set on Saturday.

Tennessee Tech started its OVC season at 0-3 but will be taking on Southern Illinois Edwardsville in a doubleheader before taking on Eastern.

Eastern has won seven of the last 10 meetings with Tennessee Tech after splitting last year’s doubleheader.

Danielle Liberatore was a big threat for the Golden Eagles last season and is Tennessee Tech’s go-to pitcher this season as well.

She has a record of 5-9 with a 5.71 ERA.

Offensively, the Golden Eagles do not have a big-threat hitter as the highest batting average is .295 by Jessie Lowery.

Sabrie Neeb and Alyssa Richards have combined for 26 RBIs and have shown some power this year combining for 5 home runs.

Tennessee Tech’s offense is pretty balanced with a majority of its hitters hitting between .295 and .250.

Game one this weekend will be Friday at 1 p.m. followed up by a game at 3 p.m. Eastern will wrap up the series on Saturday.

The games on Saturday against Tennessee Tech will start at 1 and 3 p.m.


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