Softball team to play 6 games in 5 days

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Softball team to play 6 games in 5 days

Freshman Megan Burton catches a line drive in the top of her glove in the seventh inning of the Panthers’ win over Indiana State last Thursday at Williams Field. Eastern has played just four OVC games while four teams have played 10.

Freshman Megan Burton catches a line drive in the top of her glove in the seventh inning of the Panthers’ win over Indiana State last Thursday at Williams Field. Eastern has played just four OVC games while four teams have played 10.

Karina Delgado

Freshman Megan Burton catches a line drive in the top of her glove in the seventh inning of the Panthers’ win over Indiana State last Thursday at Williams Field. Eastern has played just four OVC games while four teams have played 10.

Karina Delgado

Karina Delgado

Freshman Megan Burton catches a line drive in the top of her glove in the seventh inning of the Panthers’ win over Indiana State last Thursday at Williams Field. Eastern has played just four OVC games while four teams have played 10.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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It has been over two weeks since the Eastern softball team has played an OVC game and now the rainouts, or snowouts, are catching up to the Panthers. 

Wednesday will be the start of the Panthers’ attempt to play six OVC games over a five-day stretch. Eastern was supposed to host Southeast Missouri March 30 for a doubleheader, but it was canceled due to the weather. 

The makeup date was set for Wednesday, and Eastern already had road doubleheaders against Tennessee-Martin Saturday and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville Sunday. 

Four teams in the OVC have already played 10 games, three have played eight and three have played six.

Eastern has played more games than half of the conference even with the rainouts. 

Eastern cruised to 20 non-conference wins to open its season, but once OVC play started, the rain never stopped and winter came back to Charleston to cancel eight out of nine games.

The Panthers are the only team in the OVC with less than 10 losses. Having as much time off as it did, Eastern was strong in its return to the field Thursday where it was able to sneak in one game against Indiana State before the cold weather roared back to Charleston to postpone its next four games.

Senior Jessica Wireman fired a complete game shutout where two of the three hits she gave up were soft hit balls that never made it past her in the circle. She gave up a single to center in the seventh, but pitched her way out of both innings. 

Coach Kim Schuette said Eastern did not do anything flashy in the game, but were able to get five timely hits that scored runs. And while Wireman continues to overpower every team she faces, a few timely hits might be all the Panthers need to keep winning. 

The three teams Eastern has ahead have a combined 15-10 record. Tennessee-Martin is one of the teams that have played 10 games in OVC play but hold a 4-6 record. 

For the Panthers, the rainouts have become too normal, but having a chance to play OVC games, especially Wednesday at home, has Eastern excited. 

“The team is just ready to play,” said junior Kayla Bear. “Honestly, we are just so excited to be back on the field again. We’ve been training and practicing like crazy and can’t wait to show everyone how hard we’ve been working.” 

Bear has always been known to be a base stealer as she is always near the top of the OVC in stolen bases at the end of the year, but she feels she has been seeing the ball at the plate better this year, she said. 

She said Schuette and the other coaches wrote numbers on softballs, tennis balls and baseballs with two different colors to help the Panthers improve on hitting. 

The coaches would hide the number and color and toss it to the plate and the hitter would have to say what color and number was on the ball. 

The drills have helped Bear. 

“I’m the type of hitter that will swing at pretty much everything in the strike zone,” Bear said. “Being able to see the ball (better) has helped me lay off of the pitches that could be balls. When I got the chance to work on my hitting with the balls with the numbers it got me back to where I was before.”

Bear said as a lefty, slap hitter, she has many tools to be able to get the ball in play, so when one is not working, she switches over to another. 

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