Softball team excited for big games in 2018

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Softball team excited for big games in 2018

Sophomore Mady Poulter catches the throw from freshman Catcher Haley Mitchell at second base to catch Gabby Zizzi stealing. The Panthers split the two games with Tennessee-Martin Saturday at Williams Field.

Sophomore Mady Poulter catches the throw from freshman Catcher Haley Mitchell at second base to catch Gabby Zizzi stealing. The Panthers split the two games with Tennessee-Martin Saturday at Williams Field.

Sean Hastings

Sophomore Mady Poulter catches the throw from freshman Catcher Haley Mitchell at second base to catch Gabby Zizzi stealing. The Panthers split the two games with Tennessee-Martin Saturday at Williams Field.

Sean Hastings

Sean Hastings

Sophomore Mady Poulter catches the throw from freshman Catcher Haley Mitchell at second base to catch Gabby Zizzi stealing. The Panthers split the two games with Tennessee-Martin Saturday at Williams Field.

Sean Hastings and JJ Bullock, Sports Editor and Assistant Sports Editor

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Opening day may be nearly three-months away, but the Eastern softball team is already looking forward to what the season will bring.

The Panthers will open their season Feb. 9 in Lafayette, Louisiana in the University of Lafayette Spring Tournament.

Conference play begins on March 24 for Eastern with a two game series against Belmont. The high-energy that conference play brings is something the Panthers are looking forward to as the season nears.

“I think we definitely have our eye on some of our conference competitors like Jacksonville State and SIUE,” junior Mady Poulter said. “Those are always exciting, high-energy games. We also get the opportunity to play some big-name schools.”

Eastern did not go up against Jacksonville because the game was rained out. The double header that was rained out for the Panthers was part of 10 games that were cancelled due to rain.

The Panthers went 1-1 against the Cougars. A 6-0 loss and a 7-4 win.

The big-name school include Louisiana- Lafayette, Louisville and Illinois.

Playing at Illinois is more exciting for Poulter since she is from Champaign. And Eastern as a team has a chip on its shoulder going into Illinois later in the season as they beat them last year.

Poulter said that adds even more excitement to the game.

“Last year we were able to walk in and beat them when they were ranked in the top 25 in the nation so that was an amazing feeling,” Poulter said. “Obviously we would love to repeat that. I think that game is something a lot of us look forward to every year.

The Panthers left Champaign last season with a 4-3 win. Eastern had three different players drive in one run.

Eastern is going to be stuck inside practicing for the next few months, but is finding ways to get into a competitive mode.

Poulter said they have split into teams and have hitting challenges and everyone is loving it.

“Things are going very well,” she said. “Everyone is working really hard and the excitement level is really high.”

Coach Kim Schuette, in her second year in her second run as the head coach of the Panthers, brought in six new players for 2018.

Freshman catcher/utility player Kendyl McKeough, freshman outfielder/utility player Kristen Ames, freshman infielder Megan Burton, junior first baseman/outfielder Breya Cooper, freshman catcher/outfielder Morgan LaMore and freshman pitcher Valerie Thompson will suit up for the first time as Panthers this season.

Valerie Thompson is the only new coming pitcher to the roster, which means as of right now, after Jessica Wireman and Michelle Rogers graduate, she will be the only pitcher returning to the team next year with NCAA experience.

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