Softball set for SEMO Invite

Sean Hastings, Spots Editor

Five out of the 10 wins the Eastern softball team has picked up this season have been by 10 runs or more. Despite two shutout losses to Lipscomb last weekend, Eastern has had little problems at the plate this season.

Eastern has three of its starters hitting over .400 and one hitting .393. Freshman Mia Davis leads the team with a .442 average, freshman Haley Mitchell is batting .407 and sophomore Kayla Bear is hitting .406. Junior Taylor Monahan, in her first season as a regular starter, sports a .393 average.

The pitching has been strong so far this season from juniors Michelle Rogers and Jessica Wireman. Wireman picked up two wins last weekend. Freshmen Allison Golic and Katie Grunert have also done well in their first year in college.

As any team knows, hitters go into slumps and the runs are hard to come by. Pitching and defense will always have to be present to help win games. And that is what coach Kim Schuette and the team focus on.

“Offense can come and go depending on a lot of different things,” Schuette said. “But we hope our pitching and defense can remain solid.”

Of 68 total runs scored on the Panthers this season, 22 were unearned.

Eastern is 10-8 this season and is slated for four games this weekend at the SEMO invite in Oxford, Ala. against Alabama A&M, Loyola-Chicago, Valparaiso and Samford.

With conference play still two weeks away, Schuette has seen a lot of promise out of her young squad and believes they have already learned a lot this year.

Eastern’s 12-5 win over Valparaiso may look like a breeze, but it was anything but that. Eastern went down 5-0 quick and was able to pull off a late comeback scoring eight runs in the sixth inning.

“(We were) down 5-0 and you could feel us coming,” Schuette said. “Then down 5-4 with 2 outs and two strikes in the bottom of the sixth and we ended up winning that game.

“That might not always happen but the feeling amongst those 20 players was good to see at the beginning of March.”

But the times Eastern’s bats fell flat is where they need to learn from and “iron out a few details.” During the shutout to Lipscomb, Eastern batters faced two tough pitchers who have combined for 13 wins on the season.

“Specifically, we talked about battling a stronger pitcher to make sure we improve every inning and with each at bat,” Schuette said. “If our teammates ahead of us in the lineup are having trouble, then as the next batter ‘I really need to buckle down at the start of the at bat to see the ball early in the count and especially with two strikes.’”

Last weekend in the two wins, everything was clicking for Eastern, scoring a combined 22 runs. Wireman pitched seven and two-thirds shutout innings in the two games and added 12 strikeouts.

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