Wireman, Rogers shut down Austin Peay

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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Sophomore pitchers Jessica Wireman and Michelle Rogers dominated Austin Peay this weekend by not allowing a single run in the three games. Wireman and Rogers allowed just nine hits combined in the three games.

Wireman got the start in the first game of the series, striking out 11 in her seven innings of shutout pitching. She has 147 strikeouts this season in 153 innings pitched.

The Panthers’ offense put up six runs in the game with senior right fielder April Markowski leading the way with three RBIs. Markowski and the Panthers got the scoring started early with the senior driving in two runs in the first inning on a single to center field.

It wasn’t until the fifth inning when the Panthers scored again. Markowski drove in her third run of the day on a ground out to second base, bringing in senior third baseman Haylee Beck.

Freshman designated hitter Jennifer Ames added a run in the fifth on a single to center, and senior first baseman Kylie Bennett added two more in the sixth on a single up the middle. Bennett went 3-4 in the game.

Panthers won the first game 6-0.

Wireman threw another shutout in the final game of the series on Sunday, which proved to be key because the Panthers could only score one run coming in the first inning.

Even though she had success in her two starts over the course of the weekend, Wireman knows she needs to be better.

“Nothing’s been working,” Wireman said. “I’ve been trying to spin the ball really well but it just moves wherever it wants to right now. Luckily I was able to get over it and throw pitches I knew were working at the time. But for the most part nothing was really working.”

Wireman was able to get by and get her strikeouts because she was able to spin the ball so well. Even though she wasn’t placing the ball where she wanted to, there was enough break on the pitch to fool the hitters because got so much spin on the ball.

Wireman picked up her 10th and 11th wins this weekend and dropped her ERA to 3.20.

The Panthers were able to put up six runs in the series opener but she struggled to produce offense, scoring just three runs in the second game and one run in the finale.

Senior shortstop Katie Watson drove in the game’s only run in the first inning.

“I would really like to start seeing a little bit more hitting,” Eastern coach Angie Nicholson said.

The Panthers, for the most part, were putting the ball in play and not striking out, but Nicholson would like to see more shots.

“It’s not a matter of seeing the ball, it’s a matter of us getting our hands in the right position,” Nicholson said.

She said right now they are thinking if they hit it to the warning track it is great but not when it is hit high in the air where they have time to get underneath it for the catch.

Austin Peay’s pitchers got the Panthers to fly out a combined 25 times in the three games compared to 19 groundouts.

“We’ve got to learn how to get behind a ball and actually hit a shot and give the defense no time to get to where the ball is,” Nicholson said. “That’s the difference.”

Rogers dominated the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. While she may not get the strikeouts Wireman gets, she was able to shut down the Governors and allow just two hits and record the shutout.

She struck out just two batters in the game, but walked only one on top of the two hits she allowed but she kept them off the bases for the game. Even in the first inning when a runner made it to third, she was able to get out of the inning with no damage done.

Rogers picked up her fourth win of the season improving her record to 4-7 and dropping her ERA to 4.88.

The first inning was big for the Panthers all weekend. They scored all three of their runs in the first in the second game.

Beck and Watson were the run producers in the inning. Beck brought in freshman centerfielder Kayla Bear on a bunt and a throwing error. Watson singled to drive in Beck and another error by Austin Peay with Markowski stealing second, allowing Watson to come in and score.

The Panthers will head to Illinois Wednesday to take on the fighting Illini. Eastern’s OVC record now stands at 9-6.

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