Softball team returning home to face Tennessee- Martin

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Softball team returning home to face Tennessee- Martin

Junior Taylor Monahan high fives junior Andrea Roberts prior to the Panthers’ home opener March 24. The Panthers host Tennessee-Martin Friday.

Junior Taylor Monahan high fives junior Andrea Roberts prior to the Panthers’ home opener March 24. The Panthers host Tennessee-Martin Friday.

Sean Hastings

Junior Taylor Monahan high fives junior Andrea Roberts prior to the Panthers’ home opener March 24. The Panthers host Tennessee-Martin Friday.

Sean Hastings

Sean Hastings

Junior Taylor Monahan high fives junior Andrea Roberts prior to the Panthers’ home opener March 24. The Panthers host Tennessee-Martin Friday.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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The Panthers have been cruising through OVC play with an 8-2 record, but will run into 7-3 Tennessee-Martin Friday. The Skyhawks have won their last five games, including three OVC contests.

Eastern just beat Butler Tuesday 2-0 with the help of dominating pitching performances from juniors Jessica Wireman and Michelle Rogers.

Wireman and Rogers have been giving Eastern chances to win every game and the offense has followed through.

Junior Taylor Monahan leads the team with a .366 batting average. She said she has had her ups and downs, but is feeling good about how she is playing.

“The support I’ve gotten from my teammates, coaches, and family has been a huge part to my success,” Monahan said. “Each coach knows exactly what to say to me when I’m struggling to get me back in the game.”

As a speedy No. 2 hitter Monahan’s role on the team became clear early in the season. Showcasing brief hints of speed in her first two years, it’s on full display this season.

Her and sophomore Kayla Bear steal bases at will and it is just the start to the dangerous Panther lineup.

It’s taken time, but Monahan is starting to feel like she is making a huge impact on the team.

She said in the last few games she has gotten better at putting the ball into play. Over her last seven games she is 9-20 hitting just below .500. And getting on base is a necessity for her to really make a difference.

“With the speed that Kayla Bear and I have, it puts the defense on their toes from the start of the game,” she said. “Our speed has also helped in the outfield as well because we can cover so much ground. I believe we are all contributing to our team in our own ways, which has led to our success this year.”

Bear starts as the team’s center fielder and Monahan finds herself as the starter in left field.

And getting Bear and Monahan sets up the meat of the Panthers’ lineup to drive them in. The 3, 4, 5 hitters for the Panthers have done a good job of that.

Freshman Mia Davis hits third for the Panthers and is third on the team with 21 RBIs. Haley Mitchell follows her in the lineup and leads the team with 26 RBIs and senior Amber Toenyes has 25 RBIs.

Those numbers have them just outside the top 10, but it doesn’t matter as long as they keep winning.

The runs will have to come Friday as Tennessee-Martin has no problem driving in runs and having lots of players do it. The Skyhawks have five players who have knocked in over 20 runs.

Rachel Williams leads the team with 35 RBIs.

The pitching staff is just as tough as Eastern’s as well.

Brooke Kennedy is the team’s ace with a 15-3 record and 2.73 ERA. Sara Hooten is the “Rogers” of the team as she has a few less innings pitched but still is a pitcher Eastern will have to score on.

She has an 8-3 record with a 2.49 ERA.

Game one is set for 1 p.m. at Williams Field with game two following the finale of that game at 3 p.m.

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