WKU softball opens road trip with loss at UT Arlington

WKU first baseman Maddie Bowlds connects with the pitch from University of Wisconsin-Green Bay pitcher Becky Baneck sending the ball to center field only to be caught for the 3rd out in the bottom of the second inning. The Hilltoppers defeated the Phoenix 3-0 to take 3rd place in the Hilltopper Classic February 23, 2019.

Kaden Gaylord

The WKU softball team (20-5, 3-0 C-USA) hit the road for its second midweek game of 2020 on Tuesday, and the Hilltoppers saw their 10-game winning streak skid to a halt with a 5-4 decision against Texas-Arlington (12-13, 2-1 SBC) at Allan Saxe Field in Arlington, Texas.

Junior infielder Maddie Bowlds and freshman outfielder Brylee Hage each tallied multi-hit performances for WKU, and despite scoring first, the Hilltoppers still eventually fell to the Mavericks. 

“This was obviously not the outcome we wanted, but I’m proud of our efforts to respond after being down in the first inning,” head coach Amy Tudor said in a release. “The mistakes we made were costly today.”

WKU came out swinging, as the Hilltoppers loaded the bases early before junior catcher Kendall Smith brought in junior Jordan Thomas with a RBI single. Freshman infielder Taylor Sanders then drew an RBI walk to bring in Bowlds and put the Hilltoppers ahead 2-0 to lead off the game.

UTA wasn’t fazed by the early scoring, as the Mavericks sent eight batters to the plate and put up four runs in the bottom of the first, which helped UTA maintain its lead for the rest of the game.

Just like in the top of the inning, the bases were loaded for the Mavericks before senior pitcher Kelsey Aikey walked Amber Langston and allowed UTA to get a run on the board. 

Right after that, Brittany Wyllie knocked a three-RBI double to left field, doubling up the Hilltoppers and giving UTA a 4-2 lead in the opening frame.

Bowlds responded in the second for WKU, sending one over the right field wall for a solo home run, her first of the season, and bringing the WKU deficit to 4-3. 

UTA responded in the bottom of the second and worked its way back to a 5-3 advantage.

Aikey took the loss after being replaced by junior pitcher Shelby Nunn in the circle. Nunn and the Hilltopper defense worked to retire 13 of the final 14 UTA batters.

WKU battled back again in the top of the sixth, as sophomore outfielder Taylor Davis would reach on an error in a pinch-hit appearance that allowed Hage to score. From there, a caught stealing, fielder’s choice and groundout would end the Hilltopper threat.

The teams would trade three-up, three-down innings to close the game, with WKU stranding five runners on base to UTA’s three. Hits between the sides were even at 6-6.

Bowlds went 2 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored. She now owns three multi-hit outings on the season. Hage finished the day going 2 for 3 and crossing home plate one time. 

UP NEXT

WKU will be back in action later this week, traveling to Denton, Texas, for its first Conference USA road series against preseason favorite North Texas (19-5, 2-1 C-USA) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The Hilltoppers and Mean Green will get going at 6 p.m., 2 p.m. and noon, respectively, across the three-game weekend set in the Lone Star State.

Reporter Kaden Gaylord can be reached at [email protected] Follow Kaden on Twitter at @_KLG3.