Hampton has been critical to early season success, Anderson says


University of Arkansas

Ky Hampton, a graduate right-handed pitcher, has won back to back OVC pitcher of the week.

Autumn Schulz, Sports Editor

The Eastern Illinois baseball team is 6-4 overall to start out the 2023 season as Ohio Valley Conference games start in less than two weeks.

The first OVC matchup for the season will be against UT Martin at Coaches Stadium, a three-game series, starting on Friday, March 24th.

The Panthers are coming off a four game stint at Dayton where the Panthers were swept in a doubleheader but then came back the next two games and pulled out two wins.

Head coach Jason Anderson said he is pleased with the Panthers’ start so far.

“We have already swept a series and defeated one of the top 10 teams in the country,” Anderson said. “The team has played well and put forth a great effort up to this point.”

The 8-1 win that Sunday was certainly powered by graduate student Ky Hampton’s performance on the mound, earning him his second OVC Pitcher of the Week award.

Hampton tossed 8.2 innings and allowed eight hits and only one earned run, limiting Dayton’s hitters to a .242 team batting average against him.

Hampton’s first OVC Pitcher of the Week award came after his performance against the nationally ranked Arkansas Razorbacks. He tossed seven innings, allowing three hits and three earned runs.

Anderson said that Hampton has been unbelievable through his first three starts.

“He has really taken control of the games that he has thrown which has been critical to the teams’ early season success,” Anderson said. “It’s not often that a player will win back-to-back OVC Pitcher of the Week honors in our conference.”

The right-hander is currently third in the OVC in individual pitching with a 1.66 ERA through three mound appearances. Hampton has allowed 18 hits and only four runs.

Hampton said that it is always nice to be recognized for his performance because it validates the work he has put in in the off season.

“But me winning this award twice already wouldn’t have happened if my teammates didn’t play great defense behind me,” Hampton said. “They have made some fantastic plays in the field that have honestly made me look better. I am very grateful for them.”

This time last season, the Panthers were 7-3 overall to start what would end up being a very historic season as they would go on to win 33 games overall. It was the first time the Panthers had reached over 30 wins since the 2009 season.

Hampton said that the biggest strength the team has shown this season is its ability to bounce back after some rocky performances.

“We are a very resilient group,” Hampton said. “We have had some days where we could have easily given up but we don’t, which will go along way come conference play.”

The Panthers were selected to finish third in the OVC Preseason Poll. Senior utility player Ryan Ignoffo and sophomore infielder Chris Worcester were both named to the Preseason All-OVC team.

Hampton said that he is looking forward to OVC play a lot because the Panthers have a really good group that wants to win.

“Every year I’ve been here we have improved and I would love to go all the way this year and I fully believe we have the group to do it,” Hampton said.

Anderson said he looks forward to getting on the field and competing anytime and that he does not see the team changing anything as they transition into conference play.

“We need to continue to stay healthy and play good baseball,” Anderson said. “If we can continue to do that, then we sure have a very successful year.”

The Panthers are headed to Arkansas State for a three-game series starting on Friday at 6 p.m. and then will make trips to Arkansas Pine Bluff and Illinois State.


Autumn Schulz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]