With the return of seven position starters and three starting pitchers, Eastern’s softball team will have plenty of experience heading into the 2015 spring season. The Colonels are coming off a high of 29 wins last season and have already been predicted to finish third in the OVC this season.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Jacksonville State University are the only two teams to rank higher than the Colonels in the preseason poll.

The Colonels will have a packed schedule, competing against the likes of the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville and conference foe Morehead State University. Of its upcoming games, Eastern will host 18 them, with a quick start to the home schedule beginning Feb. 21 and 22 in the EKU Invitational.

Senior pitcher Leanna Pittsebarger is a big-name player returning for the Colonels. In last year’s season, Pittsenbarger set three single-season program records with 297 strikeouts, 12 shutouts and .139 in opponent batting average. The Ohio native has also been rated as the preseason’s top NCAA Division 1 pitcher.

Six freshmen join the returning players under the direction of head coach Jane Worthington.

Eastern opens the 2015 season Feb. 5 at the Sand Dollar Classic in Alabama.