Burton breaks record as Panthers get swept

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

Eastern shortstop Megan Burton made school history with a pair of home runs in the first game of a doubleheader against Jacksonville State Saturday.

The home runs were her 12th and 13th of the season, and they tied and broke the single-season home run record for Eastern with three weeks still remaining in the season.

Her second home run put Eastern ahead 6-2 in the fourth inning, but the Panthers would end up losing the game 10-8.

They also lost the second game of the doubleheader 8-3 and fell 7-6 Sunday, getting swept by the Gamecocks and falling to 11-10 in OVC play.

Burton hit another home run in the game on Sunday, extending her record.

After a 7-2 start to conference play, the Panthers have lost eight of their last 12 conference games and are now in seventh place in the OVC.

The Gamecocks improved to 14-9 in conference play with the sweep and are now in fourth place.

The first game Saturday was tied 2-2 entering the fourth inning. Eastern grabbed the lead, scoring five times in the inning, but Jacksonville State responded in the bottom of the inning.

The Gamecocks jumped on Eastern pitcher Olivia Price, scoring six runs and taking the lead.

Price loaded the bases with no outs and allowed a 2-run single and 2-run double before being replaced by Jade Montgomery, who allowed two more runs to score, one of which was credited to Price.

The Gamecocks scored twice more in the sixth and stifled a Panther rally in the seventh to get the 10-8 win.

Eastern would be ahead in the second game as well after scoring three times in the first inning, two coming on a double from Hannah Cravens.

Jacksonville State scored one run in each of the first three innings before breaking through for 4 runs in the fourth, getting to Price for the second-straight game.

Price was credited with three of the runs in the fourth as well as one in the third inning. Montgomery game in again for Price and was credited with one run in the fourth and another in the sixth to win 8-3.

The Panthers would lead once again in Sunday’s game, this time leading 6-4 in the seventh inning.

They scored on a Morgan Lewis RBI double, home runs from Burton and Cieplinski, a fielder’s choice from Katie Nicholson and a 2-run double from Cravens.

But the Gamecocks rallied in the bottom of the seventh, scoring on a double from Karsen Mosely and a 2-run walkoff double from Alex Howard.

Despite the three losses for Eastern, Burton was able to make her mark on program history.

She entered the season with 7 home runs in her career, and has now tripled that number.

Her 14 home runs this season tie her for the most in the OVC and for 12th in all of Division I with just six other players.

Redshirt-senior first baseman Haley Mitchell also has a chance to surpass the previous mark of 12 home runs this season.

Mitchell has 10 home runs, which has her in fourth place in the OVC.

As a team, the Panthers lead the conference with 44 home runs and rank 24th in the nation with 1.29 home runs per game.

They will play a nonconference game April 22 at Western Illinois before returning home for a conference series against Murray State.

They will play a doubleheader April 24 and a single game the next day.

 

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