TOPCAT: Rogers shines in shutout against Austin Peay


Sean Hastings

Michelle Rogers fires a pitch April 16. against Austin Peay. Rogers is this week's Top Cat for pitching a two-hit shutout against the Governors.

Mark Shanahan, Assistant Sports Editor

Sophomore Michelle Rogers is coming off of a seven-inning two-hit shutout performance against conference-foe Austin Peay Saturday afternoon.

The performance led the Panthers to a 3-0 victory in the second game of the double header. With the victory, Rogers now has a 4-7 record this season with an ERA of 4.88. The sophomore let up just two hits on Saturday, while striking out two batters and giving up just one walk.

Rogers has started 15 games this season for the Panthers and has a total of 41 strikeouts. She said she felt more confident heading into her last game. Rogers is not much of a strikeout pitcher, so she finds other ways to get batters out.

“I try to get them to hit ground balls or hit pop ups so (I throw) a lot of drop balls and I try to have tight spin,” she said.

In her freshman season last year, Rogers appeared in 31 games including 23 starts. She finished with a 9-12 record on the season with an ERA of 4.09. She stuck out 67 batters on the year, including a single game high of seven strikeouts against Winthrop. She was a reliable fielder for the Panthers, finishing the season with a perfect fielding percentage including 22 assists and three putouts.

Sophomore catcher Andrea Roberts described what it is like to catch for Rogers.

“Michelle throws a little harder. She’s got a phenomenal drop ball,” she said. “The ball literally falls off of the table, and she’s able to produce a lot of ground balls that way. Michelle likes to work at a fast pace, so you either keep up with her or get out of the way.”

Roberts said that she and Rogers need to be on the same page and know which pitch is going to work and which will not.

“We both know when one of her pitches isn’t working, so as her catcher, I have to know to not only throw that pitch, but what pitch to throw instead that’ll hit that same spot,” she said. “So if her curveball isn’t working, then I’ll try a drop curve. In the game that I caught her on Saturday, she wasn’t struggling, but if she were struggling, I would call time out and go out to talk to her. So knowing when to do that is key in our relationship.”

Rogers is one of two full-time starting pitchers for the Panthers with sophomore teammate Jessica Wireman. The two both became the starters last season as they emerged onto the scene as freshmen. They endure different workouts than the rest of their hitter teammates.

“Jess and I don’t hit, so we mainly pitching and doing a lot of workouts because we know that’s our job,” Rogers said. “They can be pitch specific: fatigue our arm to build strength or stamina and things like that.”

The coaches keep various pitching charts for the righty to help her prepare for different opponents.

“They chart our pitches, so they’ve been charting for a while now,” she said. “So they’ll pull out from last year the charts from when I pitched, so then they’ll base it off of that.”

Rogers is from Indianapolis, where she attended Scecina Memorial High School as a three sports athlete. She played softball for four years, while also playing prep volleyball and golf at the varsity level. Softball was what she wanted to do at the collegiate level.

“Softball is my main sport. I’ve played it since I was little,” she said. “It’s where my passion is.”

Rogers earned several awards for softball during her high school career, including All-City Honorable Mention and First Team All-Conference. She was also made a starting pitcher in her freshman year. She earned the Sister Lavonne Long Outstanding Senior Female Athlete Award, which is presented to the senior female athlete who contribute the most to the Scecina Athletic Program.

The awards she received helped her know that her hard work was being recognized.

“It just shows that hard work really does pay off and it’s just nice knowing that when you are putting the hard work in you are getting rewarded,” she said.

Rogers has also performed well in the classroom during high school and college. In high school, she was a four-year member of the honor roll and was recognized last year for the OVC Commissioner’s Honor Roll as a freshman.

Her favorite softball memory up to this point in her career was when she won state her junior year of high school as one of the team’s starting pitchers.

Rogers does not have anyone specific that she will credit for what she has done up to this point in her career, but many people have helped her improve throughout the years.

“I’ll take something from everybody,” she said. “I feel like getting advice from different people, something might work for you or something different. A lot of people have helped me to get where I am today.”

Rogers chose to come to Eastern because she felt a family atmosphere that made her feel like she was at home.

“I really got a feeling when I stepped on campus. That sounds really cliché, but it is true,” she said. “I really liked the campus and I liked the atmosphere with the girls on the team. It was just like a family atmosphere. I came from a small high school and so everybody was close and that’s what it felt like when I came here.”

The Panthers still have a few weeks left of the season and have a record of 15-23 in the midst of a six-game winning streak.


Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]