Room to improve for the Eastern baseball team

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Room to improve for the Eastern baseball team

Junior Tyler Jones delivers a pitch in Eastern’s loss to Tennessee Tech Friday at Coaches Stadium. Eastern’s baseball team is struggling compared to where it was one year ago.

Junior Tyler Jones delivers a pitch in Eastern’s loss to Tennessee Tech Friday at Coaches Stadium. Eastern’s baseball team is struggling compared to where it was one year ago.

Sean Hastings

Junior Tyler Jones delivers a pitch in Eastern’s loss to Tennessee Tech Friday at Coaches Stadium. Eastern’s baseball team is struggling compared to where it was one year ago.

Sean Hastings

Sean Hastings

Junior Tyler Jones delivers a pitch in Eastern’s loss to Tennessee Tech Friday at Coaches Stadium. Eastern’s baseball team is struggling compared to where it was one year ago.

Adam Shay, Baseball Reporter

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When comparing this year’s Eastern baseball team to last season, despite a better overall record at this point from last year, there have been major differences in this year’s statistics.  

Last year, the Panthers finished with an overall record of 21-35. Looking at the current statistics, the Panthers’ offense has not been as efficient as last year; however, the pitching has improved immensely.

Even with 27 games left this season, it will be challenging to meet last season’s offensive success. By the end of last year, Eastern had a team batting average of .279, whereas this year, the team’s batting average has dropped to .255, placing them eighth in the OVC. 

The major decrease this year has been their homerun production. At 20 homeruns this year, the offense will have to step up and start hitting the long ball every game if they plan to match their last season total at 87. 

However, the addition of redshirt junior first baseman Hunter Morris has been a bright spot this season. Through 21 games, Morris is third on the team with a .310 batting average, five home runs as well as leading the team with 27 RBI’s. 

A player who has made hitting improvements this year is been redshirt junior catcher Josh Turnock. Though he has only played 14 games, his average has jumped an incredible 75 points to .367, which leads the Panthers. 

Senior centerfielder Joseph Duncan has been one of the most durable players the Panthers the past two seasons. Since he has played every game and has a batting average that consistently hovers around .300, he is on pace to lead the team in hits like last year.

As for the pitching, it looks like the team’s ERA will increase by nearly two runs this year. The pitching was ranked higher last week in the OVC, but due to giving up 45 runs in three games against Tennessee Tech, the Panthers ERA jumped to 6.21.

Nevertheless, there are Panther pitchers who have made significant improvements from last season. For instance, senior closer Michael Starcevich has found a rhythm this year, compiling a solid season with a 3.80 ERA and a team high four saves in 23.2 innings pitched. 

Also, the addition of junior pitcher Tyler Jones has been near lights out for the Panthers this season. Through 24.2 innings pitched, based on innings thrown, Jones has the lowest ERA on the team at 1.82, giving him a 2-2 record in five games started.

As for fielding, the Panthers started the year hot as they ranked third in the OVC in fielding percentage for a couple weeks. Since then the errors have started to pile up, placing them eighth in the OVC with a percentage at .963, one point lower than last year. 

If the Panthers hope to make a push for the OVC tournament, their offense needs to produce more runs and decrease their errors, supported by their improved pitching. With that being said, there are plenty of practices and games to make those gradual improvements. 

Adam Shay can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]