EIU cross country team earns academic honor

NEW ORLEANS (EIU) — Eastern Illinois men's and women's cross country teams were among the 14 overall squads from the Ohio Valley Conference that earned All-Academic team status for the 2017 cross country season from the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

Both the men's and women's teams at Belmont, Eastern Illinois, Eastern Kentucky, Morehead State, Murray State, SIU Edwardsville and Southeast Missouri were honored.

The EIU men's cross country team placed 22nd at this year's NCAA Midwest Regional, while the Panther women finished in 23rd place at the Midwest Regional. At the NCAA Regional, senior Maria Baldwin set the EIU school record for the 6K distance.

Nationally the USTFCCCA honored 189 men's teams and 242 women's teams at the Division I level. To qualify, teams had to have a cumulative 3.00 GPA or greater and competed as a team at an NCAA Regional.

Softball splits day one at Mardi Gras Classic

LAFAYETTE, La. (EIU) — Eastern Illinois softball split the first day of 2018 play at the Mardi Gras Classic in Lafayette, La. The Panthers defeated Iowa in the opening game 4-2 before falling to No. 22 Louisiana 2-1.

Kayla Bear batted first for the Panthers and opened up the first inning versus Iowa with a base hit to shortstop. The Hawkeyes lucked out as Bear was caught leaving first base earlier to tally their first out of the inning. Taylor Monahan and Haley Mitchell each made appearances at the plate following Bear's at-bat. Monahan struck out against Lauren Shaw, who started on the mound for Iowa. Mitchell grounded out the pitcher to end the inning.

Jessica Wireman started on the mound for the Panthers and was able to hold the Hawkeyes scoreless in the opening inning of play. EIU got on the board quickly in the second inning as Shaw opened the inning by walking freshman Megan Burton. Burton advanced to third base following a sac bunt by Mady Poulter and a grounded out by Maria DeVito. Iowa then walked Breya Cooper leading to a double steal by Cooper and Burton. Burton was safe sliding into home, scoring the Panthers' first run of the season.

Wireman pitched another quick inning with three outs in a row and held Iowa hitless in the bottom of the second. Bear, Morgan LaMore, and Burton all scored in the third inning to put them up 4-0 over the Hawkeyes. EIU tallied three hits in the third inning.

Iowa scored two runs in the fourth inning to get on the board. Brooke Rozier recorded a double in the second at-bat of the inning. She eventually scored following a double from Mallory Kilian. Kilian tallied Iowa's second run following a fielding error from the Panthers.

Wireman earned her first win of the season after pitching all seven innings. Bear led the Panthers with three hits while Andrea Roberts had a team-leading eight putouts.

Following their win against Iowa, the Panthers played host No. 22 Louisiana for the second game of the Mardi Gras Classic. The Ragin' Cajuns defeated EIU 2-1 with Michelle Rogers tallying her first loss on the mound.

Louisiana scored one run early in the second. Brittany Holland hit a single up the middle to start the inning, ultimately scoring on a sac fly to center field by Jolie Readeaux. Brittany Rodriguez would later score for Louisiana in the bottom of the fifth inning to secure the win for the Ragin' Cajuns.

The Panthers were held scoreless in the first three innings of play. Mitchell connected on her first home run of the season to left field to open the fourth inning and scoring the Panthers' only run of the game. Mitchell was the only Panther to record a hit versus ULL. She also led the team with seven putouts at first base.

The Panthers will open day two of the Mardi Gras classic tomorrow versus Samford at 9 am. They will then have a chance to even the playing field with a rematch versus ULL at 2 p.m.

Saint Louis edges EIU men's tennis

O’FALLON, Ill. (EIU) — Eastern Illinois men’s tennis battled on Friday afternoon against Saint Louis but came up just short as the Panthers lost 4-3 at the St. Clair Tennis Center.

Freddie O’Brien continued his solid play at No. 1 singles as he won his fifth straight match of the season. O’Brien saved three match points and picked up a win over David Ferragut, a two-time first-team All-Atlantic 10 Conference performer. O’Brien won 4-6, 7-6 (6), 1-0 (3) to improve to 5-1 on the season. O’Brien also picked up a win at No. 1 doubles partnered with Trent Reiman. They knocked off Justin Nogalski and John Nogalski 6-4. SLU would win at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles to take the point.

EIU scored another point on the first win of the spring season by freshman Kaisei Kuroki. Kuroki came back to win in three sets against Oscar Pachon, playing at No. 3 singles with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.

Gage Kingsmith collected the final point with a default win at No. 6 singles.

EIU falls to 1-6 on the season and will play at Valparaiso next Friday. SLU improved to 1-3.

Preseason baseball poll released

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (EIU) — As the 2018 baseball season approaches, the Ohio Valley Conference released their preseason poll. The Panthers were selected to finish 8th in the conference as selected by the conference's Head Coaches and Sports Information Directors.

Eastern Illinois third-year head coach Jason Anderson has 27 returning players back from the 2017 season and will have 12 newcomers competing for playing time as well this year. Three Panthers earned the honor of being named to the Preseason All-OVC team.

Jimmy Govern, Joe Duncan, and Dougie Parks all earned spots on the Preseason All-OVC team. Jimmy Govern led the Panthers, hitting .335 last season with 62 hits, 11 home runs, and 50 RBIs. Joe Duncan earned one of the outfield spots in 2017, batting .331 with 84 hits, 47 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. Lastly, in the designated hitter spot was Dougie Parks, batting .300 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs. The Panther trio looks to offensively lift the Panthers in the 2018 season.

Morehead State junior outfielder Niko Hulsizer was named OVC Preseason Player of the Year while Belmont junior Dylan King was tabbed as OVC Preseason Pitcher of the Year.

The Panthers open up their 2018 season with a three-game series at Louisiana-Monroe. Game one is slated for a 4 p.m. start on Friday, Feb. 16 in Monroe, Louisiana.

Tennessee Tech and Morehead State were selected as the top two teams in the preseason poll as Tennessee Tech picked up 15 first-place votes to Morehead State's five. Jacksonville State was predicted to finish in third, with Belmont, Southeast Missouri and Murray State rounding out the top six teams. The poll was rounded out by Murray State, EIU, SIUE, UT Martin and Eastern Kentucky.

Eastern Illinois has improved its win total each season under now third-year coach Jason Anderson. A year ago, the Panthers won 21 total games, and this season they return 17 positional players and 10 pitchers from that team. 

The 70th season of OVC baseball will get underway on Friday, Feb. 16 with the first weekend of league play being held March 9-11. The season will culminate with the 2018 OVC Championship, which will be held for the second year in a row at Choccolocco Park in Oxford, Alabama. The tournament runs May 22-27.

Indiana beats EIU women's tennis

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (EIU) — Eastern Illinois women's tennis opened a busy weekend suffering a 4-0 loss on Friday evening at Indiana. The Panthers will play at Bradley on Saturday and wrap up weekend action on Sunday at the University of Indianapolis.

Indiana won the doubles point, winning matches at No. 1 and No 3. Claire Martin and Srishti Slaria's match at No. 2 doubles was unfinished with the Panthers duo trailing 4-3.

Three of the singles matches went unfinished as Indiana was able to lock up the match with wins at No. 3, No. 4 and No. 6 singles. Stella Cliffe played at No. 1 singles for the Panthers and lost the opening set in a tie-break to Natalie Whalen, 7-6.

Grace Summers, playing at No. 2 singles, and Karla Contreras, playing No. 5 singles, had their matches left unfinished as well.

EIU fell to 2-6 on the season while Indiana improved to 8-0 on the season.

LAFAYETTE, La. - Eastern Illinois softball split the first day of 2018 play at the Mardi Gras Classic in Lafayette, La. The Panthers defeated Iowa in the opening game 4-2 before falling to No. 22 Louisiana 2-1.The Panthers will open day two of the Mardi Gras classic tomorrow vs. Samford at 9 am. They will then have a chance to even the playing field with a rematch vs. ULL at 2 pm.

Panthers finish strong at GVSU Big Meet

ALLENDALE, Mich. — The Eastern Illinois men's and women's track and field teams traveled to the Grand Valley State Big Meet on Friday night for their final road meet of the 2017-18 indoor season. The men placed seventh, while the women finished 13th on the day as the Panthers combined for 12 top 15 finishes.

Joe Smith earned the top overall finish for the EIU men as he won the long jump. Smith cleared a distance of 23-07.25 / 7.19 meters for a new season-best mark and moves into the third spot in the Ohio Valley Conference this season in the event.

Chrisford Stevens posted the second-best mark in the triple jump invite with his distance of 49-00.25/ 14.94 meters. Stevens' distance landed him second in the OVC for the triple jump. Stevens also earned fourth place honors in the long jump invite (22-11.25/ 6.99 meters).

In the shot put, Ryan Pearce earned himself top five honors placing fourth with his throw of 53-07.00/ 16.33 meters. Clayton Turner would land sixth in the shot put with his throw of 50-02.00/ 15.29 meters. Colton Yeakley secured a third top 10 finish in the shot put for the Panthers with his throw of 48-05.25/ 14.76 meters landing him eighth place honors.

Ashton Wilson landed a sixth-place finish in the high jump with his jump of 6-06.75/ 2.00 meters.

In the track events, Brandon Lane was the top finisher for the men securing a 12th place in the 200-meter dash invite crossing the line at 22.04.

For the women, Darneisha Spann was the top finisher placing fourth in the 60-meter hurdles invite with her time of 8.63.

Maria Baldwin had a strong showing in the 3000-meter dash invite earning 12th place honors crossing the line at 9:53.96.

In the 4x400 meter relay invite the quartet of Pedra Hicks, Stephanie Dominguez, Spann, and Sophia Keith crossed the line ninth at 3:54.53.

In the field events, Jasmine Woodley was the top finisher for the Panther women grabbing a top 15 finish for the Panther women placing 14th in the weight throw with her distance of 52-00.00/ 15.85 meters.

The Panthers will return home to the Lantz Fieldhouse next Friday (Feb. 16) for their annual Friday Night Special. The Friday Night Special will mark the final regular season meet for the Panthers during the 2017-18 indoor season.

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