Panthers playing at high level

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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There is still over half the Ohio Valley Conference season left, but the Eastern softball team has already given plenty of reasons to believe that they are the real deal.

And where to start with this team? Up and down the roster, someone brings something valuable and an 8-2 start to OVC play speaks for that.

Need a hit? The Panthers have had it. Need a comeback? Eastern has had plenty of those. Need a big pitching performance? Have not had to really ask for those from Jessica Wireman and Michelle Rogers. Those seemingly come natural.

Wireman dropped her ERA to 2.29 over her last four appearances and Rogers has hers down to 2.87. Both pitchers have winning records as well.

It does not matter which one takes the mound. Both Wireman and Rogers give equal chances to win. Wireman is in the top 10 for ERA, opposing batting average, wins, and strikeouts. Rogers is just outside the top 10 for ERA, but is in the top 10 with Wireman for wins.

Wireman and Rogers teamed up to shutout Butler Tuesday. Wireman started and pitched 4.1 innings and Rogers finished off the game.

And Wireman did not even have her best stuff, she said. If her “best stuff” ever comes out, that is dangerous.

Game in and game out, pitching has primarily been the rock, but 1-9 in the batting order has also been strong.

A lot of hype early in the season for the Panthers, but they have not given a reason to not believe. They keep finding the answers.

Possibly the best part of the hitting for Eastern is that it is not just the “veterans” leading the way, but all the “newbies” have not hit any road bumps.

Junior Taylor Monahan leads the team with a .366 batting average and she has started every game but two; first year as a starter. Monahan is also second on the team in stolen bases with 25. She has been thrown out just four times.

Monahan should have a spot in the top 10 for batting average, but one spot is taken by Gabby Zizzi of Tennessee-Martin. She is the “leader” in batting average with a 1.000 average with one at bat on the season.

But as coach Kim Schuette said earlier in the season, the Panthers do not concern themselves with statistics.

Freshman Mia Davis has started all but one game and is hitting .361 and leads the team with six RBIs. Freshman Haley Mitchell is batting .352 and has started 33 games this season.

Three other players are hitting above .300.

Eastern is back to OVC play Friday against Tennessee-Martin (7-3) for a doubleheader at Williams Field.

It is still early in the season with more than half to play, but a lot of pieces are fitting into place for Eastern, turning them into a team to beat in the OVC.

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