It was pointed out to me by Leaf-Chronicle writer (and unofficial OVC Ball fact-checker) Luke Thompson that it may have been hasty to consider Eastern Illinois a lock in yesterday’s Daily 3. So, let’s discuss it.
At 6-6, they’re just 1.5 games ahead of Southeast Missouri, who is currently the first team out. And their schedule down the stretch isn’t easy: Four games, all on the road, against Austin Peay, Murray State, Belmont and SIU Edwardsville.
Based on yesterday’s argument, 7-9 gets you in, so they need one. It’s less likely to be Murray State or Belmont, and much more likely to be Austin Peay or SIUE. The question arises: are you confident that Eastern Illinois steals one of those two, because they’re likely to be underdogs in all four.
Honestly, I am. Eastern Illinois has been as good on the road as they were at home (.500 in both categories in conference play) and are playing as well as they have all season. Could they go 0-4? Absolutely, but this season, so could SIUE, EKU, and just about anyone. No one has exactly been dominant to this point.
A lot comes down to this week’s game against the Governors. If they win, move them safely into the lock category. If they don’t, things could get a bit challenging for the Panthers, coming down to a must-win game against SIUE.
In other words, last season all over again. Only this time, the finale is in Edwardsville, not Charleston.
As we get closer to the end of the season, we’ll reevaulate the player of the year races, although I’m not what, if anything, has changed since the last time we talked about it.
Having earned another Freshman of the Week award, Murray State’s Cameron Payne is your Freshman of the Year. That’s over and done with, and we can all move on.
The Player of the Year race, on the other hand, is an absolute mess. So here are my first ever POY Power Rankings:
- J.J. Mann, Belmont
- Glenn Cosey, Eastern Kentucky
- Jarekious Bradley, Southeast Missouri
- Cameron Payne, Murray State
- Angelo Warner, Morehead State
As much as I’d love to campaign for Patrick Miller, I just don’t see it going to a player on a sub .250 team. History tends to show being a good player on a really good team helps, which is where Mann and Cosey get a potential boost over Bradley. That, and Bradley’s numbers were a bit down, for him, in the past week. Choosing a player from Murray State is quite a challenge, but with the Racers far and away in control in the West, I wouldn’t be surprised for him to pick up votes. Warner makes the list thanks in part to his huge weekend in the Eagles win over Eastern Kentucky.
As a note, despite there being an OVC newcomer of the week award, there is no newcomer of the year award. I reached out to the OVC to ask why, and was told it has to do with uniformity across all sports: Every sport has freshman that play, but some sports don’t have a lot of, if any, transfers. Since the end of season awards are actual, physical awards, they want to ensure all sports are treated equally.
We don’t follow a lot of OVC baseball here at OVC Ball, but it never fails that this time every year, we get the exact same story from someone: Baseball players battling cold during first practices.
Really? An outdoor sport that starts in February, and we’re supposed to be surprised that it’s cold? I get baseball is generally considered a warm weather sport, but anyone that follows college baseball, and has a basic understanding how seasons work, has to get that February is in the middle of the winter, a time generally known for snow and ice.
Honestly, if OVC baseball started in March, it’d be much easier for us to follow. We’re a little busy right now, is all.
That, and they still play with metal bats. This is not little league. Can we please start using big-boy bats?
(It is at this point I’d like to point out that I’m not making fun of college baseball players, who could easily pummel me with said metal bats. Simply that they are forced to use inferior equipment. And let’s be honest, a ball flying off a wooden bat is a much sweeter sound than *ting*)