Lady Toppers wrap up Red & Black Challenge

WKU pitcher Kelsey Aikey (12) throws out a strike against Indiana state university on Feb 27, 2021 at the WKU softball field. The Hilltoppers defeated the sycamore 6-0 in the Hilltopper Classic to get their first at home victory.

Jake Moore

WKU softball (11-4) picked up a win in a rematch against Valparaiso by a score of 9-2 to cap off the Red & Black Challenge in Louisville. The Hilltoppers went 2-1 over the course of the weekend and can travel back to Bowling Green in good spirits.

Valparaiso (4-9)

Redshirt sophomore Kennedy Sullivan started the game for the Hilltoppers and faced a rough first inning. Sullivan got the first two batters she faced to ground out, but proceeded to walk the bases loaded. Sullivan escaped the jam when the next batter popped out, preventing any Valparaiso offense. 

Valparaiso would once again threaten in the fourth inning, as a runner got aboard with a single and Sullivan walked two more to load the bases a second time. Sullivan put out the fire by ringing up a batter for the third out and the game continued scoreless. 

Redshirt senior Kelsey Aikey relieved Sullivan in the fifth and exited after hurling four shutout innings and amassing four strikeouts. 

Valparaiso struck out in the sixth, scoring two runs off of a pair of two-out RBI singles to grab a 2-0 lead. The Hilltoppers responded immediately thanks to a two-run shot from Sullivan, her fourth of the year, to tie the game in the sixth. The Hilltoppers were scoreless for the last 12 innings before the home run.

The floodgates opened after the home run. Redshirt freshman Taylor Sanders swatted a double to score redshirt junior Kendall Smith. Redshirt sophomore Jordan Ridge hit a pinch-hit single to bring Smith home. Redshirt senior Paige Carter knocked a single with the bases loaded to score both Ridge and redshirt freshman TJ Webster, extending the lead to 6-2. 

Sullivan hit a single with the bases loaded, and redshirt junior Maddie Bowlds hit a two-run double to cap off the nine-run inning. The Hilltoppers entered the final frame with a comfortable 9-2 lead. Valparaiso couldn’t do anything to make a comeback and Aikey ended the game by picking up her fourth strikeout.

WKU will head back to Bowling Green for two more home games before entering conference play. The Hilltoppers will face off against the Kentucky Wildcats on March 17 at 6 p.m. and will enjoy a week off before playing Lipscomb on March 30 at 6 p.m.

Softball beat reporter Jake Moore can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Charles_JMoore.