Panthers eyeing rematch with Evansville

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

Two weeks ago the Eastern softball team ran into Evansville pitcher Morgan Florey, and she shut down Eastern and pitched a five-inning 11-0 shutout.

The Panthers will likely see her again this weekend at the Chattanooga Frost Classic.

Florey was nearly untouchable the last time she went up against Eastern, striking out 11 batters out of the 15 total outs in the game.

Eastern only mustered two hits against Florey, but for an offense that caught fire last weekend, it has the Panthers excited to potentially face Florey again.

“Evansville has a really good pitcher (Florey) and she does a nice job up to bat and on the mound,” said Eastern coach Kim Schuette. “She hurt us bad on the mound the last time we played them. The girls can’t wait to play her again. As long as they’re thinking that way, it makes my job easier as a coach.”

Florey went 1-2 last time and drove in one run.

The Purple Aces have not won much this season, as they are 2-6, but when they do win, they run up the score. In their two wins they have combined for 25 runs.

Eastern is 7-3 this season after sweeping last weekend’s series that ended up with sophomore first baseman Haley Mitchell and senior pitcher Jessica Wireman earning OVC Player of the Week honors.

Despite the early success, Schuette said the Panthers are a long way from being their best.

“At times, there were some really nice things that happened last week,” Schuette said. “Wins are always nice, but there are losses that we have where we played well. I think that is important to keep that. Last week was fun.”

Eastern opens the weekend against Western Michigan and Chattanooga Friday, with the much-anticipated rematch against Evansville as the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday.

Eastern plays Indiana-Purdue University Indianapolis in the second game.

The Panthers wrap things up with Alabama State Sunday.

Last weekend, Mitchell carried the load driving in 10 out of the 27 runs the Panthers scored, and Schuette said she hopes other players can join in on that and start carrying the load as well.

“If you can get different kids carrying the load at different times (that helps), because you’re going to have some peaks hitting and you’re going to have some valleys and hopefully there are less valleys and you can have 1-9 being a weapon,” Schuette said.

Eastern has seven new players on the roster this year, and all have contributed in some way this season.

Freshman catcher Morgan LaMore is hitting .250 this season, which is the highest of the new additions.

Although LaMore and the four others are listed as freshmen, Schuette said she does not see them that way.

“At this point in the year, I tell our freshmen that they are not freshmen, they’re ball players,” Schuette said. “That whole freshmen concept is over. They didn’t play like freshmen when they got here.”

Schuette added that the upperclassmen have noticed the talent that the new “ball players” bring to the roster.

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