By Todd Purvis/Sports editor

The Eastern softball team started conference play this weekend by sweeping the Panthers of Eastern Illinois. The Colonels completed the sweep Sunday by thrashing the Panthers by a score of 8-1.

“We hit the ball better than we had been doing this year,” coach Jane Worthington said. “Our goal was to come out and sweep Eastern Illinois, and we did.”

Eastern was led once again by a strong pitching performance as freshman Kelsey Anderson tossed the complete game and gave up only one run on four hits. In Anderson’s seven innings of work she didn’t walk any Eastern Illinois batters.

In the top of the first Anderson’s day didn’t look so promising. She gave up a solo homerun to give the Panthers the early lead. The Colonel pitcher then settled down and was nearly perfect as she held the Panthers scoreless for the remainder of the game.

Eastern tied the game up in the bottom of the second as third baseman Ashley Totten doubled to center and scored when Anderson doubled to left.

Eastern jumped ahead of Eastern Illinois in the bottom of the third when shortstop Diana Barreras homered to left field to give the Colonels the 2-1 lead. Center fielder Kelli Bromley followed Barreras with a double to left field. Left fielder Jennifer Norris and catcher Suzie Schaefer then put together a pair of singles that pushed Eastern’s lead up to 4-1.

In the fourth inning the Colonels added two more runs. Alysha Jones led off the inning with a walk then moved to second as right fielder Jen Christiansen singled to third base. Barreras then doubled to right to bring Jones across the plate. First baseman Adriel Foxley brought Christiansen in to score when she grounded out to second base, extending Eastern’s lead to 6-1.

“We needed to get our bats going,” Worthington said. “It’s good to know that we can put that many runs on the board.”

In the fifth Totten opened the inning with a double to right-center field and scored when Anderson helped her own cause with her first home run of the season. The two-run shot gave the Colonels the 8-1 victory.

Barreras led the Colonels by going three for four with two RBI’s. Barreras was named Ohio Valley Conference softball player of the week for her performance this past weekend.

“Diana Barreras had an exceptional weekend,” Worthington said. “She’s capable of playing like she did last weekend day in and day out.”

In addition to Anderson’s performance on the mound, she also was two for three with a homer.

Norris, Schaefer and Foxley all added RBIs in the game.

The win boosted Eastern’s record to 20-8 overall and 3-0 in the conference.

“Our players have the confidence in our team as a whole. We’ve got hitting, pitching and defense,” Worthington said. “We’re capable of winning any given day if we play hard.”

Saturday

The Colonels opened conference play with a pair of wins in their doubleheader over Eastern Illinois on Saturday.

Freshman pitcher Kindal Kincaid recorded seven shutout innings for Eastern as they picked up the 6-0 victory in the first game.

Kincaid held the Panthers scoreless on six hits while striking out three in the contest.

“Kindal just seems to be getting it done, she has a solid defense behind her and she knows that her game is to make sure that no one hits the ball hard,” Worthington said. “Without defense she is very successful.”

Barreras was a perfect four for four in the contest and etched her name in the Eastern record books with two solo home runs. Barreras was the eighth player in school history to record two homers in one game. She finished with two RBI’s and three runs.

Although the Colonels handled the Panthers with ease in the first game of the doubleheader, game two was a different story.

Eastern scored the first three runs in the game by putting up a run in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

Eastern Illinois then posted a three-run sixth inning that tied the game and set the stage for three innings of bonus softball as neither team could score in the seventh.

“When they tied the game up no one panicked,” Worthington said. “Our players knew that we had the offense to win the game.”

The Colonels managed to pick up the win as they put one run on the board in the bottom of the tenth inning. Christiansen scored the winning run off of a double to right-center field from Bromley, giving Eastern the 4-3 victory.

After pitching the entire first game of the doubleheader, Kincaid came in to relieve starter Shelby Thompson in the seventh inning. In Kincaid’s four innings of work in the second game, she allowed only one hit and no runs to pick up her second win of the day. Kincaid shared the honors of being named co-OVC pitcher of the week for her play against the Panthers.

Bromley was two for five in the game with one run and one RBI.

“Bromley has been really consistent for us all year,” Worthington said.

The Colonels took on the University of Kentucky yesterday and will resume conference action Saturday when they travel to Jacksonville State.