Softball team looking to get back on track


Sean Hastings

Junior Mady Poulter throws the ball over to first to Haley Mitchell for the out in Eastern’s win over Tennessee Tech in game one of the doubleheader Saturday at Williams Field. The Panthers are taking a break from OVC play for a day to play Illinois on the road Wednesday.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

Junior Mady Poulter does not think Eastern has necessarily lost its fire, but playing Illinois Wednesday in a non-conference game will be a good opportunity to get some of it back. 

The Panthers struggled over the weekend, dropping three of four to Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State. 

Poulter, who has started all 43 games for the Panthers, did admit Eastern has not been playing its best softball lately. The Panthers started OVC play 6-0, but has since dropped six of eight. 

“(Our struggles) have cost us a few,” Poulter said. “But there is still so much fight left.”

She said playing a “big name” team like Illinois is exciting. Eastern beat the Illini last season. 

“At the same time, we aren’t going to ride or die on this game,” she said. “We are just looking to come out and play our best softball as a team.”

On a positive note, and coach Kim Schuette pointed it out after the game, the Panthers are still finding ways to push runs across the plate. They scored nine on Sunday in loss in game two, but a few blunders in the field and at the end of the game cost them. 

The Panthers have the highest team batting average in the OVC and have scored the second most runs, just behind Eastern Kentucky, which Eastern will play May 5 to end the regular season. 

And while the Panthers have had their struggles, the veteran leadership on the team has played a role in staying focused. 

“We’ve talked a lot about focusing on one thing and making sure it’s the right thing in that moment,” senior Andrea Roberts said. “We’ve also talked about that even though we weren’t on our A-game, we still hung with (Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State) and almost won.” 

Roberts and Poulter realize that Eastern hit a minor slump, but are confident that the way they played early on in OVC play will be back. 

For starters, senior pitcher Jessica Wireman has had the rarest of rare struggles recently. She was handed the loss in both games against Jacksonville State. 

Wireman, who leads the OVC in saves with five, got hit around in the sixth and seventh innings against Jacksonville State, which allowed the Gamecocks to take the lead in each game. 

That is not typical Jessica Wireman, as her ERA was below 2.00 before the weekend, but now sits at 2.10. 

Moving forward, Roberts just wants the Panthers to keep that mindset of “one thing-the right thing.” 

“Having the offense that ropes the ball and defense that makes the play to shut teams down (is the team we know we are),” Roberts said. “Tomorrow’s game is our only concern.” 

The first pitch is set for 5 p.m. at Illinois. 

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