Softball team heads to Nashville for pair of doubleheaders

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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The Eastern softball team’s overall win streak may have snapped Wednesday, but it still has won six-straight games where it matters; in Ohio Valley Conference play to hold a 9-6 record.

The Panthers will have a chance to make it 10 in a row and help secure a spot in the OVC tournament this weekend against Belmont and Tennessee State. Eastern will play a doubleheader with Belmont on Saturday and a doubleheader with Tennessee State Sunday.

The Panthers have dominated on their home field with a perfect 8-0 record but have struggled on the road having won just one game. The win came in the third game of a three-game set with Murray State April 3.

Eastern’s bats started to come to life against Illinois Wednesday but sophomore pitcher Jessica Wireman hit a minor speed bump after dominating in her last four starts.

If the pitching stays how it has been over this six-game OVC win streak and if the hitters hit the way they did against Illinois, the Panthers can be a tough team to beat moving toward the end of the season.

The Bruins have had an up-and-down year with an 8-9 record in OVC play. Belmont currently has the seventh spot in the OVC standings and are 7-5 on its home field.

Belmont was riding a five-game losing streak heading into last Sunday’s game including losses to Murray State and Eastern Kentucky, but found a way to beat the Colonels in the final game of the series.

Ashley Johnson has seen the most time in the circle for the Bruins with 81 innings pitched. She has an ERA of 3.37 and a record of 4-5.

The Bruins, however, have two other pitchers who have been used a lot this season. Shelby Willard has thrown 75 innings for the Bruins and has a record of 3-12 and an ERA of 5.88. Lexi Rouse has racked up 66.2 innings in the circle and is the only pitcher on the team with a winning record at 5-4

They may not have the highest batting average, but the Bruins are a threat to drive in runs. Belmont has seven players who have driven in 14 or more RBIs. Eastern seniors April Markowski and Kylie Bennett are the only ones on the team with over 14 runs batted in.

None of the same can be said for Tennessee State, who has struggled all season. The Tigers have an OVC record of 3-14 which puts them in 11th place in the OVC standings with the chances of making the OVC tournament slim.

The Tigers will be taking on Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Saturday before playing the Panthers Sunday, so their record will change before the game.

Despite the lack of success in getting wins, the Tigers do have one of the OVC’s top hitters in Courtney Geralds. Geralds is batting .345 with two doubles, two triples, and 16 RBIs. Second on the team is Lauren Dreitlein with a .305 average. She has six doubles on the season.

While the hitters for the Tigers have seemed to get the job done at the plate, the pitchers have really struggled to not give up runs. The Tigers utilize three pitchers who have combined to give up 248 earned runs.

Eastern pitchers Wireman and sophomore Michelle Rogers have given up a combined 142 runs in 252 innings pitched.

Lauren Woodard of Tennessee State has an ERA of 5.79 with a record of 4-19. She has handled a majority of the pitching with 119.2 innings pitched.

Eastern and Belmont will be playing at noon and 2 p.m. on Saturday. Eastern and Tennessee State will square off at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday.

Sophomore Jessica Wireman fires a pitch Sunday against Austin Peay. Wireman threw two shutouts over the weekend.

Sean Hastings
Sophomore Jessica Wireman fires a pitch Sunday against Austin Peay. Wireman threw two shutouts over the weekend.

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