Wireman, Rogers pitching strong for Panther softball

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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To start the season, junior pitcher Jessica Wireman’s earned run average did nothing but rise through her first eight appearances reaching as high as 4.42. Since then it has dropped to 2.80.

She also started the season 1-4 and has picked up six wins since then and pitching like the Panthers’ ace that she has been the last two seasons.

Her latest feat was picking up two wins over the weekend, one win against Belmont and one against Tennessee State.

Wireman unfortunately dealt with mono in the beginning of the season, leading to the struggles and taking away her usual strength she had on the mound.

She finished the 2016 season with 19 wins and 203 strikeouts. Now in 2017, she has a 7-9 record and 85 strikeouts and it is coming at a perfect time as OVC play is starting and having junior pitcher Michelle Rogers pitching at a high level as well.

Wireman struggled at the end of the first game against Belmont throwing a wild pitch in the seventh, but came back the following game and pitched all seven innings and picked up the win.

Only giving up one run, which came in the first inning, Wireman said she feels good and strong right now.

“I feel a lot stronger than I did, but I know I can tell in certain parts of my game I am a little weaker than I was at the end of last season and that came from the mono,” Wireman said. “A lot of my struggles comes from consistency, but now I feel good because I feel super consistent with my pitches and stuff and I think that is most important for me, which is my confidence.”

To end the weekend, Wireman cruised past the Tennessee State Tigers and the Panthers came out with a 9-1 win in five innings.

“Jess is a fighter and a competitor and she’s feisty and that’s what is good about her,” coach Kim Schuette said. “Her feistiness can get in her way once in a while, but we had a nice talk between the (Belmont) games and she really worked hard on two pitches she really needed to get sharper and those two pitches came in handy in the last inning and they were huge.”

The search is still on to find a potential third pitcher to back Wireman and Rogers, but for right now it has been Wireman and Rogers running the show as it has been in the last two years.

Rogers has flipped the script already on how last year finished up. She finished 2016 with a 6-9 record and is 9-6 in 2017 and has been consistent all year and has been relied on much more.

She finished the 2016 season with four complete game wins and her complete game win against Tennessee State Sunday was her first of this season.

Rogers has never really been much of a strikeout pitcher, but she has also improved on that in 2017.

She already shot past her season total from last year of 50, with 59 strikeouts this season.

Eastern has a two-weekend road trip ahead of it before coming back to Williams Field, but they will take a hot hitting team and two strong pitchers on the road trip.

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