Softball team heads to SIUE

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

With a 10-game Ohio Valley Conference win streak on the line, the Eastern softball team will have a chance to make it 13 in a row with a three-game series at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville this weekend.

Eastern has lost just one game in the past 11 contests. The one loss came to non-conference opponent Illinois by a score of 9-7 in Champaign.

The Panthers have not lost at home in OVC games making all six of their losses coming on the road, where they will be this week.

Eastern is 5-6 on the road, so they still have had some success away from home this season.

Eastern’s 13-6 OVC record has them in third place in the conference with Southern Illinois-Edwardsville right behind them in fourth with a record of 13-7.

The Cougars finished the 2015 season with the best record in the OVC, allowing them to host the OVC softball championship. Tennessee Tech defeated Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in the championship to bring home its seventh championship in school history.

The Panthers won the three-game series with the Cougars last season. The two teams squared off in the final weekend of the season. Eastern dropped the first game of the series 7-2 but came back with a 4-3 win in game two and a 1-0 shutout in the rubber match of the series.

The Panthers have everything working for them right now as the bats have picked back up and sophomore pitchers Jessica Wireman and Michelle Rogers have continued to shine in the circle.

Eastern is coming into the weekend after beating Belmont in two games and Tennessee State in two games as well.

Senior Haylee Beck dominated Belmont going 6-8 at the plate with three doubles, one triple, four RBIs and five runs scored.

Wireman has the most shutouts this season in the OVC and she is third in the OVC in strikeouts.

Southern Illinois-Edwardsville also has a little win-streak of its own coming into this weekend’s matchup with Eastern. The Cougars have won four straight and six out of their last seven OVC matchups.

The Cougars’ win streak includes wins against Belmont and Tennessee State.

Southern Illinois-Edwardsville has had a lot of run production from Tess Eby. Eby has driven in 23 runs. She is hitting .275 on the year.

Jordan LaFave leads the team with a .323 batting average. The next highest average on the team is Alyssa Heren at .291.
For the Panthers, April has been April Markowski’s month. The senior came into April batting .289 and now leads the team with a .328 batting average.

The outfielder has had a great past couple of weeks having gone 9-14 in the last five games.

Markowski said the reason for the early season struggles was her mentality.

“I was over thinking it way too much in the beginning,” Markowski said. “Now I’m much more relaxed and having fun. It’s great.”

Eastern has also had a lot of players driving in runs over the course of this win streak.

The Panthers have four of its seniors leading the way in that category with each having over 15 RBIs this season. Kylie Bennett leads the team with 22 and Markowski and Katie Watson are right behind her with 19 each.

Beck has also driven in 16 runs from the Panthers.

Wireman and Rogers will be the pitchers for the Panthers this weekend as they have been all season. Wireman will come into the game holding an ERA of 3.40. She improved her record to 13-17 last weekend with a couple wins.

Rogers has a 4.48 ERA coming into the weekend with the Cougars. The sophomore is just one win away from getting her win-loss record back to .500. Rogers is 6-7 on the season.

With the way the Panthers have been hitting, and the way Rogers and Wireman have been pitching, Eastern can potentially get this win streak to 13 games.

The Panthers will play Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in Edwardsville on Friday at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m.

After this weekend with Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, the Panthers will come home to Williams Field to wrap up the regular season and celebrate senior day before taking on Southeast Missouri.

The Panthers will honor five seniors that weekend. Bennett, Markowski, Watson, Beck and Jennette Isaac will be graduating this year for the Panthers.


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