Panthers to test Redhawks in home opener

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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Eastern’s softball team is going to get in Friday’s doubleheader against Southeast Missouri, but the tarp has been on Williams Field’s infield since Tuesday, getting pelted with rain.

And a bare outfield is being drenched in rain as well.

The Panthers are set to host the Redhawks starting a 1 p.m. for their home opener. It has been a long wait for Eastern to get this home opener played as the first six weeks were played on the road.

Eastern has also had its game with Butler canceled twice this week due to rain.

The Panthers have started the OVC portion of the schedule 4-0 after sweeping Belmont and Tennessee State last weekend.

Junior infielder Mady Poulter has started all 32 games for the Panthers this season and leads the team with five triples.

Poulter said Eastern is excited to finally be able to play again after having rainouts this week.

“Everyone loves to play games. That beats practices every time, so this weekend is definitely what we have been looking forward to,” Poulter said. “But with that being said, practice is what has gotten us to this point and we got to get some of those quality hours in this week with the cancellations.”

The Panthers found ways to pick up 24 road wins this year, but being able to come back home is a good feeling, Poulter said.

“I think everyone is pretty excited for (Friday,)” Poulter said. “It’s great to step on your home field in front of your fans and show them what you’ve got and how hard you’ve been working.”

The Redhawks have started OVC play 3-1 to add to their 19-11 overall record.

Southeast Missouri has four hitters batting over .300. Danina Marton technically has the highest batting average, but she has only had two at bats this season.

Otherwise, Mykaela Arellanes leads the Redhawks at .360. She has started every game for the Redhawks.

One thing that stands out for Southeast Missouri is its ability to hit the ball out of the park. The Redhawks have tallied 26 home runs this season with Abby Tillotson, Addison Barnouski, Ashley Ellis and Sarah Messex hitting five each.

For Eastern, it has been one of the top teams in hitting and pitching. Poulter attributes that to the Panthers finding ways to play hard for each other.

“If someone is having a bad day, there are two or three people right there ready to pick it up for them and that’s one of the best things you can ask for,” she said. “Everyone has their eye on the same goal this season and that’s definitely what is motivating everyone and that is what is keeping us focused.”

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