The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Freshman pitcher ditches redshirting to help Panthers

Freshman+right-handed+pitcher+Slater+Wilcox+poses+for+a+portrait+during+baseball+practice+in+Lantz+Indoor+Fieldhouse.
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Freshman right-handed pitcher Slater Wilcox poses for a portrait during baseball practice in Lantz Indoor Fieldhouse.

In baseball, things don’t always go to plan.  

When EIU baseball head coach Jason Anderson told freshman right-handed pitcher Slater Wilcox that he’d be a redshirt his freshman year, Wilcox used that as his motivation to improve.  

“My mindset was, ‘I’m going to get my redshirt revoked. I’m going to play,’” Wilcox said. 

After an abundance of injuries, the pitching staff was starting to thin out. 

The breaking point was the series finale versus University of Dayton on March 17, a game that the Panthers lost 17-11 after walking 16 Dayton hitters. 

Anderson knew it was time to make a change, and Wilcox was all for getting a chance to pitch, even if it meant burning his redshirt year. 

“I wanna play,” Wilcox said. “I’m here at EIU to play baseball.” 

Wilcox got to make his first collegiate appearance as the starting pitcher versus Lindenwood University on March 19. He pitched five innings, allowing no runs and striking out six batters. Along with those statistics, Wilcox earned his first career win as well, as the Panthers beat the Lions 20-9.  

“It was his time to come help us out,” Anderson said after the Lindenwood game.  

Wilcox had a dominant senior season at Eureka High School, just up the road from his hometown of Goodfield. According to Maxpreps, Wilcox had an earned run average of 0.94 in just 35 innings during his junior and senior years of high school. 

During his senior year of high school, Wilcox only gave up six earned runs all season and had 68 strikeouts while allowing only 16 walks.  

Despite his offensive production throughout high school, Wilcox decided to give it up and focus on pitching at the college level. 

“I’m not opposed to hitting still. I mean that would be awesome to hit,” Wilcox said. “Right now, I’m gonna focus on pitching. I think it would be best for me and the team.” 

Wilcox said his coaches and teammates at Eureka helped him get to the next level of baseball.  

“My coaches honestly really pushed me to play college baseball,” Wilcox said. “My love for the game really stemmed from them.” 

Since his debut at Eastern, Wilcox has made two more appearances. He pitched an inning of scoreless ball against Southeast Missouri State University on March 24 and started the final game of the series against the University of Tennessee at Martin on March 30.  

In that start, Wilcox went 5.2 innings giving up three earned runs, as the Panthers came back to win 8-4.  

Despite the pitching injuries, Wilcox said he doesn’t feel the need to put any pressure on himself but welcomes the pressure when it does come. 

“When I pitch, I’m just going out there loose, ready to compete and having fun,” Wilcox said. “I love the pressure. I love when it’s on me. That’s what we train for, and I think those are the moments when I play best.” 

  

Gabe Newman can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]. 

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