Softball team overpowering rest of conference

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

The long ball has helped fuel a hot start to the 2021 season for the Eastern softball team.

The Panthers are tied for first place in the OVC with a 5-1 conference record and are leading the conference in home runs by a wide margin.

The Panthers have hit 27 home runs this season, 12 more than the next-closest teams, Eastern Kentucky and Southeast Missouri.

Their team average of 1.59 home runs per game actually ranks 17th in all of Division I. Oklahoma leads the nation in the category, hitting 77 home runs in 22 games for an average of 3.5 per game.

The Panthers are also leading the conference in runs scored (101), RBI (96), slugging percentage (.549) and total bases (246).

Eastern has 35 more total bases and a slugging percentage that is 86 points higher than the second-ranked team in those categories, which in both cases is Tennessee-Martin.

Individually, redshirt-junior shortstop Megan Burton is leading the OVC with 8 home runs while redshirt-senior first baseman Haley Mitchell is tied for second in the conference with 7.

Redshirt-sophomore infielder Hannah Cravens is tied for fifth in the conference with 5 home runs.

Mitchell and Burton also rank second and third in the conference in slugging percentage with Mitchell slugging .822 and Burton slugging .818.

It is not just home-run power that has made the Eastern offense so effective.

Redshirt-sophomore outfielder Morgan Lewis is second in the OVC with 24 hits this season and has a .400 batting average on the season.

Katie Nicholson, another redshirt-sophomore outfielder, leads the team with a batting average of .433. This ranks sixth in the conference, but ranks second among players with more than 13 at bats.

Pitching has also played a major role in Eastern’s success this season.

The Panther’s team ERA of 3.21 ranks fifth in the conference and they have allowed the second-fewest runs in the conference (57) and issued the fewest walks in the conference (20).

Eastern freshman Olivia Price ranks sixth in the OVC with an ERA of 2.24 and redshirt-senior Jade Montgomery ranks eighth with a 2.82 ERA. Montgomery also has pitched 54.2 innings this season, the second-most in the OVC.

With the high-scoring offense and strong pitching this season, Eastern is leading the OVC with a run differential of 44.


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