The Eastern softball team has cooled off after a hot start to the conference season.
After a 7-2 start, the Panthers have gone 5-10 over their last 15 OVC games and are now in seventh place in the standings with just six games left on the schedule.
Eastern’s offense has not been an issue this season, having scored the fourth most runs in the conference with 122.
They also lead the conference with 31 home runs, rank second in team slugging percentage (.467 and third in stolen bases (43).
The Panthers’ pitching has not been quite as productive.
Eastern’s team ERA of 4.19 ranks ninth in the OVC although the Eastern staff has been effective in limiting home runs, allowing just nine this season, the fewest in the conference.
The have also limited walks, surrendering the third-fewest walks in the conference (39).
Two teams are sitting at the top of the conference standings comfortably.
They are Eastern Kentucky, which is 21-5 in OVC play, and Southeast Missouri with its 16-5 conference record. Third-place Austin Peay has as many conference losses as these two teams combined.
Austin Peay also leads the OVC in runs with 139 while Southeast Missouri and Eastern Kentucky rank second and third in runs respectively.
Southeast Missouri’s team batting average of .348 is the best in the OVC by a wide margin.
The Redhawks are also the conference’s top pitching team with an ERA of 1.78 and the lowest opponent’s batting average in the conference (.194).
Eastern Kentucky has pitcher well also, ranking second with a team ERA of 2.20.
Morehead State has struggled throughout the year, sitting in last place with a conference record of 3-20. They have scored the fewest runs in the conference (48) and have the highest team ERA (5.51).
Individually, Eastern shortstop Megan Burton is leading the conference with 16 home runs, which is a single-season record for Eastern and has her tied for ninth in the nation.
On the mound, Tennessee-Martin’s Alexis Groet has been perhaps the top pitcher in the conference.
She ranks fourth with 80.2 innings pitched while leading the OVC with 1.39 ERA. Her 74 strikeouts rank third.
Southeast Missouri’s Rachel Rook leads the conference with 90 strikeouts and ranks third with a 1.57 ERA.
Eastern’s best pitcher has been Jade Montgomery who ranks 12th with a 3.05 ERA and is tied for sixth with 78 innings pitched this season.
Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]