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Notebook: Eastern fading out of conference picture

JJ Bullock, Sports Editor

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Eastern’s Hannah Craven throws a pitch in the Panthers’ 13-0 loss to Southern Illinois Edwardsville Tuesday night at Williams Field. Eastern is now 1-11 in conference play.

JJ Bullock
Eastern’s Hannah Craven throws a pitch in the Panthers’ 13-0 loss to Southern Illinois Edwardsville Tuesday night at Williams Field. Eastern is now 1-11 in conference play.

The Eastern softball team continues to slide in the Ohio Valley Conference standings, and now it’s looking more improbable the Panthers can move out of the bottom half of the conference.

Eastern lost both games of a doubleheader to Southern Illinois Edwardsville in eyebrow-raising fashion, with 10-3 in game one and 13-0 in game two on Tuesday night, drawing head coach Kim Schuette to speculate that her team may not have been able to “walk and chew gum correctly” that day. Whew. The two losses extended Eastern’s losing streak to 11 games and dropped its conference record to 1-11.

Eastern would have to win all ten of its remaining conference games just to secure an even 11-11 OVC record. Getting to .500 would be a good step for Eastern to be one of the eight OVC teams that makes the conference tournament, but winning ten conference games in a row is improbable to ask of even the best of teams, much less a team that is struggling like the Panthers.

Is it possible for Eastern to still make the conference tournament? Yes, it is possible. Should you bet on this happening? Probably not.

The eighth spot in the OVC standings, the last tournament spot, is currently occupied by Southern Illinois Edwardsville which has a 4-4 record and just pummeled Eastern on Tuesday. With the eighth tournament seed currently occupied by a .500 team, it might be safe to say .500 might be the precedent needed to reach the tournament.

Last season, however, the eighth conference spot gave way to a 8-14 Morehead State team. Let’s imagine for a second that 14 losses is the threshold this season for a conference tournament berth; that still puts Eastern as a longshot to be playing.

To pull off an 8-14 conference season, Eastern would have to go 7-3 over its remaining conference games, pulling off a remarkable turnaround midseason. For reference, a 7-3 conference record right now would put Eastern in fifth place.

Eastern’s conference schedule does get relatively easier in its last ten games when stacked up against the first 12. Eastern has two games against last place Morehead State (0-8), two games against Eastern Kentucky (6-4), two games against Southeast Missouri (6-2), two games against Belmont (4-6) and two against Tennessee State (2-8). For the most part, Eastern has gotten the top half of the OVC out of its way and now has to play the teams closer to the bottom of the totem pole.

While that does spell some good favor for Eastern, going 7-3, at a minimum, against those teams is still one tall task for a Panther team that ranks 11th in offense and 10th in pitching in the conference.

The back-to-back bludgeonings by the Cougars on Tuesday, a team that ranked 11th in ERA and 8th in offense, does not make a 7-3 finish to the season look very promising.

Eastern needs to play its best softball of the season the rest of the way to even have a shot at a conference tournament berth, a long way to come from not being able to “walk and chew gum correctly”.

JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]

About the Writer
JJ Bullock, Sports Editor

Hey, I'm JJ Bullock and I am the Sports Editor. I am a junior journalism major. I spent last year as the Assistant Sports Editor. Prior to that I served...

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Notebook: Eastern fading out of conference picture