After having an up-and-down start to their season, the Eastern Kentucky University softball team swept Morehead State, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and Eastern Illinois last week.
Now ranked third in the Ohio Valley Conference, the softball team is on a seven-game winning streak. With just six games left in conference play, the team is coming together at just the right time.
“It’s been a little bit of a rollercoaster,” head coach Jane Worthington said. “I’m not disappointed by any means because we have a really good group of players. They have the talent, they have the work ethic, they have what it takes.”
After a successful season last year, in which the team won the OVC conference regular season title, the team has had to adapt to changes in leadership and facing adversity, Worthington said.
Their biggest assets this year, she said, are the cohesiveness of the team and the core leaders that have stepped up.
“Any time that you get seniors like Des and Hannah, that’s always going to be a strength,” Worthington said. “They are working hard, and we have the tools. No reason that we can’t get it going at any time.”
One of those seniors, Destinee Lizzmore, said the chemistry existing within the team dynamic has been present throughout the wins and the losses this season. Having each other’s backs, she said, has helped them get through tough losses, especially like their loss to Tennessee State on April 6.
Regardless of the outcome each game day, Lizzmore said it has been the adversity they have had to overcome to come together and remember their goal.
“We’re just brutally honest with each other. We’re family, so we’re able to do that,” Lizzmore said. “We just kind of got to get back on track and have the end goal in mind because sometimes in the season, you lose that.”
Fellow senior leader Hannah Clark has had that goal in mind each game, and that has shown in her performance. Clark has been named OVC Player of the Week for the week of March 25 and broke the EKU softball career record for home runs and RBIs.
The day she hit the record-breaking home run, she said she didn't realize that she was that close to breaking the record. Clark said that Assistant Sports Information Director, Chris Wells, had looked up the record in the record books out of curiosity and realized that Clark had just put her name on the top of that list.
With it being her last season, Clark said the accomplishment was an honor and a special addition to her career and one that will stick with her long after her career is over.
As Friday was senior day for Lizzmore, Clark and their senior teammates, that career is slowly coming to an end.
A big reason the team is beginning to have such success, Lizzmore said, was because they were starting to remember to have fun and have energy. Clark said that with it being her final season, she had one major goal at this point.
“It is just sad to think about this being it,” Clark said. “I just really want to have fun and enjoy this last season.”
However, before any of them can hang up their cleats, their end goal is still very much in reach: winning the OVC tournament. Though the team won the OVC regular season title last season, they did not win the tournament. Worthington said that despite the good competition within OVC this year, she is ready to take the title.
“We just want to take care of one game at a time at this point,” Worthington said. “Whatever happens in the regular season, the tournament is what I really want and what the team wants this year.