Softball 23 days from OVC play


File Photo

Junior Jessica Wireman throws a pitch last year at Williams Field. The Panthers play their first OVC game March 24.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

For the next three weekends, the Eastern softball team will stay on the road and continue to play in tournaments, but at the end of this 23-day period awaits Belmont for the OVC home opener for the Panthers.

The Panthers have faired well in their weekend tournaments so far, but so has Belmont. The Bruins are 11-1 to start their season and used a no-hitter from Lexi Rouse to get their latest win over Alabama State.

Rouse is 3-0 this season, and even though she tossed that no hitter, Alabama State made contact all game. Rouse struck out just one batter in her seven innings of work.

Rouse’s pitching opponent, Justine Jean, pitched six innings and gave up only two runs, but that is all the Bruins would get off her.

Eastern will also host the Tennessee State Tigers on the March 24 weekend. The Tigers have not had the same success as the Panthers or the Bruins so far with their 4-9 record.

Their opponents have heavily outscored the Tigers this season 91-59. Tennessee State’s pitching staff has struggled to start the season. Tori Hart holds the team’s best record at 3-3 and best earned run average at 3.99.

Southeast Missouri and Tennessee State played each other at the beginning of the season, but the game did not go against the team’s conference records.

The Redhawks won in blowout fashion, beating the Tigers 9-1 in five innings. Southeast Missouri is 8-2 to start its season.

Morehead State sits at 7-6 in its non-conference games. The Golden Eagles have steadily shut out teams, or have been shut out.

In their last weekend of games, they won 2-0, lost 10-0, won 1-0, lost 5-0 and won 1-0 again.

Allison Rager has been dominant to start the season, with a .450 batting average, but Robyn Leighton has been the run producer for Morehead State. She has driven in 14 runs in 13 games.

Eastern Kentucky had a rough start to its season, losing six games in a row, and it has led to a 3-7 record. The Colonels have only played in two tournaments this season, and that is where all three wins came from.

Tennessee Martin came out of the gates hot and have started its season with a 12-2 record.

Tennessee Tech has struggled so far with a 4-10 record and so has pitcher Danielle Liberatore. Liberatore has pitched against the Panthers numerous times over the last three years and has given the Panthers trouble. She is 2-4 with a 4.24 record.

Jacksonville State is 9-4 to start the season. Eastern will play the Gamecocks April 23.

Murray State and Southern Illinois Edwardsville have started strong, with matching 11-4 records. Austin Peay has not played as many games and are 5-4 to start their season.

The Panthers close out their season with those three teams. Eastern will also play mid-season non-conference games against Butler, Indiana State and Illinois.

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