Poulter drives in 6, Panthers split weekend


Sean Hastings

Sophomore Mady Poulter gets into position before the pitch in a game last year against DePaul at Williams Field. Poulter hit her first career home run and drove in six runs over the weekend at the Lipscomb Tournament.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

Sophomore Mady Poulter launched her first career home run in the Panthers’ second game of the weekend against Stony Brook that started Eastern’s blowout win over the Seawolves.

Poulter was not much of a power hitter in her first year as a Panther in 2016, but got ahold of one in the first inning and sent it over the left center field wall.

She did not know it would head over the fence when she hit it, and it shocked her teammates as well, getting the Panthers started off on the right foot.

“It felt really great to finally hit one out,” Poulter said. “I think everyone was surprised so it really got everyone going and picked up the energy in the dugout.”

Her homerun was a three-run shot that gave Eastern essentially all it needed to defeat Stony Brook. The Panthers tacked on seven more runs to win 10-1 following an 8-0 5-inning shutout loss to Lipscomb.

Poulter drove in one more run later in the game.

Junior Jessica Wireman got back on the right track and picked up the win in the circle; one of two wins on the weekend for her.

Wireman also bailed out the Panthers in their win against Valparaiso. The Crusaders put up five runs in the first three innings on starting pitcher junior Michelle Rogers.

Sophomore Jennifer Ames started the Panthers 12-5 comeback win with a two-run home run in the fourth inning. Senior Amber Toenyes followed the home-run hitting weekend trend with one of her own in the fifth inning. This one being a two-run shot as well.

Poulter kept her hot weekend alive and drove in two more runs on a single to give the Panthers their first lead of the game and all they needed to roll away with the win.

One thing that has been different this year compared to last season is the different number of players getting involved and playing. Last year it was a set lineup day in and day out, with very limited changes. This year more players are seeing the field, including freshman as well as players who have been her for a year or two.

And with five key spots to fill for the Panthers’ graduated seniors, Eastern has been able to do that and play well under coach Kim Schuette. Schuette figured out how to win in her first go around with the Panthers and has it going on the right track on the second.

And all of this has to do with the team’s success, Poulter said.

“I think things are going really well under coach’s system,” Poulter said. “We are very lucky to have her back at EIU. I think we are meshing really well based on how many different players are on the field in comparison to last year’s lineup.”

And filling the formally vacant spots of first base, shortstop, and the entire outfield, it has not only been one player penciled in at each spot. This year’s team is showing lots of versatility.

“Everyone is stepping up and filling big shoes and we have a lot of girls that can play a lot of spots,” Poulter said. “Everyone is doing a great job of embracing their roles.”

Eastern’s run scoring onslaughts came to a halt in the games against Lipscomb. The Panthers pitchers could not keep the Lady Bisons.

Lipscomb shut out the Panthers in both games over the weekend including the 8-0 run-rule loss. The Lady Bisons handed the Panthers a 4-0 loss in the Purple and Gold Challenge finale.

Wireman’s only loss of the weekend came in the 4-0 weekend finale loss, but with the way she pitched against Valparaiso has her looking like 2016 midseason form.

Lipscomb improved to 14-5 with the wins and Eastern is 10-7 to start its season.

Conference play is nearing for the Panthers, but will head to Oxford, Ala. next weekend for the SEMO Invite for four games against Alabama A&M, Loyola-Chicago, Valparaiso and Samford.

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