Eastern softball team traveling to last-place Eagles

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Eastern softball team traveling to last-place Eagles

Eastern’s Jade Montgomery throws a pitch in the Panthers’ 6-4 loss to Indiana State April 3 at Williams Field. Eastern travels to play Morehead State this weekend.

Eastern’s Jade Montgomery throws a pitch in the Panthers’ 6-4 loss to Indiana State April 3 at Williams Field. Eastern travels to play Morehead State this weekend.

JJ Bullock

Eastern’s Jade Montgomery throws a pitch in the Panthers’ 6-4 loss to Indiana State April 3 at Williams Field. Eastern travels to play Morehead State this weekend.

JJ Bullock

JJ Bullock

Eastern’s Jade Montgomery throws a pitch in the Panthers’ 6-4 loss to Indiana State April 3 at Williams Field. Eastern travels to play Morehead State this weekend.

Tom O'Connor, Softball Reporter

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Freshman Jenna Robins thought up all of the misfortunes that might inflict a team in any given season, asking her head coach what she would do if, say, someone got hurt, and asking what she could do to possibly help.

It was back in January, and Robbins had informed Eastern head coach Kim Schuette of her willingness to take on more responsibility, her desire to fill the vacant roles, her commitment to doing what’s most conducive for the team to win.

With sophomore Valerie Thompson sidelined with an ACL tear, Robbins has enlisted herself as a cog in the Eastern softball bullpen.

Embarking on a seven game road trip over the next two weeks, the Panthers begin on Saturday with Morehead State and then Eastern Kentucky on Sunday, two teams on completely different trajectories this season.

Morehead State has not yet won a game this season, unlike Eastern Kentucky which is basking in an 8-4 conference record.

“I don’t want them to worry about the opponent,” Schuette said. “If you worry too much about the opponent, you forget about what’s important, which is what we do in our dugout. We want to play better softball and we are looking to go get Morehead and then we will figure out (Eastern Kentucky) second.”

The weekend could present a propitious sign for the Panthers, albeit on the heels of an 11 game losing streak, to move from the basement of the standings to the first floor. It could take some time, of which there may not be enough, to reach the upper echelon.

The distance separating Southeast Missouri and Murray State, tied for first in the OVC standings, and the Panthers is nearly as long as their 11 game losing streak is thick. A chasm of seven games, to be exact, separate the teams.

Schuette will almost certainly deploy her entire bullpen, as she really has had no choice, since the Thompson injury thinned her rotation from four to three.

However, the team’s focus should not, in Schuette’s words, deviate from what her players can change.

“You are not going to control the empire, you are not going to control physical mistake,” Schuette said. “You are going to control your hustle, though; you are going to control your body language in the batter’s box, your body language and how you react to certain situations, whether it’s a ball, a strike- on defense, an error, a miscue.”

In order to identify the attributes of Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky, they need not look further than Wednesday’s games between the two.

For Morehead State, its second game against Eastern Kentucky was an ill-fated affair, right up to the end, in large part because of an inability to capitalize on the few occasions they did manage to wear down the throwing arms of junior Mollie Paulick and sophomore Bethany Todd.

The Wednesday double header was an encapsulation of all that has gone wrong for the Eagles this season.

Maybe it’s their bullpen. Maybe it’s their batters. Maybe it’s a combination of the two.

This team, believe it or not, has both the highest earned run average and the lowest batting average in the Ohio Valley Conference.

The Morehead State softball team has not won since March 17, approaching this weekend on a 15-game losing streak.

Like an express checkout line at the grocery store, Eastern Kentucky bagged all of the runs they needed in about as fewest innings as possible, by way of the slaughter rule, to defeat the Eagles 8-0.

It was entirely self-service. The Colonels did not need to labor through seven innings when six would do just fine.

The Eagles carry the dubious honor of holding the third highest error total to date.

“Each day, the sun comes down and the sun comes up, and you have an opportunity as an athlete, an opportunity as a person, you have opportunities all over the place,” Schuette said. “And if you can embrace that moment, instead of worrying so much about what might happen or what happened before, that’s a good thing.”

Tom O’Connor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]