WKU softball racks up 43-run outburst, coasts to perfect 5-0 weekend at Chatt Challenge

On Wednesday, March 7, the WKU Softball team took on the SIUE Cougars at the WKU Softball field. The Hilltoppers won the game 10-4 after coming back from a 2-0 deficit in the 3rd inning.

Kaden Gaylord

The WKU softball team (8-2) earned a clean sweep at the Chatt Challenge in Chattanooga, Tennessee, over the weekend, as the Hilltoppers won five games in three days to extend their current winning streak to seven straight.

WKU won the Chatt Challenge in dominating fashion, posting a perfect 5-0 record and a 43-7 total score over five games played.

“I am extremely proud of our all-out effort this weekend,” head coach Amy Tudor said in a release. “I felt we executed a balanced attack at the plate, in the circle and in the field. Our energy and focus stayed consistent, and we look forward to getting back to work this week.”

FRIDAY

The Hilltoppers came out on a mission against Ohio, scoring six runs in the first five innings of their opening outing on Friday. But the Bobcats stayed within reach, scoring three.

WKU put a stamp on the game in the seventh inning, torching Ohio for a total of seven runs after a two-run homer from sophomore right fielder Kennedy Sullivan put WKU up 8-4.

The Hilltoppers capitalized on errors and outhit the Bobcats 14-8 during a 13-4 win.

WKU continued its hot hitting day against host team Tennessee-Chattanooga, scoring in five of the game’s seven innings en route to a 12-2 triumph.

UTC kept it close early, but the Mocs couldn’t keep up with the momentum that allowed WKU to rack up 28 hits, 25 runs and five home runs across two wins on the day.

Junior center fielder Jordan Thomas went 2-for-4 with a home run and five RBIs, making her the first Hilltopper to post a game with five or more RBIs since the 2017 postseason.

SATURDAY

WKU carried its red-hot hitting into Saturday, first defeating Tennessee Tech in five innings. 

The Hilltoppers dominated the Golden Eagles, as Sullivan pitched a one-hitter and earned her first win of the season. She finished with nine strikeouts in five innings.

The WKU offense went berserk after not scoring in the first inning, putting up nine total runs across the second, third and fourth innings. Six tallies came in the fourth frame alone. 

Junior catcher Kendall Smith went 2 for 3 with a homer and three RBIs, helping WKU take home its first run-rule victory of the season, 9-0.

WKU took on Lipscomb in its second game of the day. The Bisons defeated the Hilltoppers 3-2 on Feb. 7, but WKU was able to avenge its season-opening loss.

Lipscomb scored the opening run in the third inning, but it would end up as the Bisons’ only run. 

WKU went on to score seven runs across the fourth and fifth innings, highlighted by a three-run homer by Smith. Her blast would be what the Hilltoppers needed to later reach a 7-1 win.

Senior pitcher Kelsey Aikey (4-1) earned her second complete-game win of the season. Her final line included five hits, one earned run and nine strikeouts in seven innings of work.

“Our offense was impressive again today,” Tudor said in a release. “Sixteen runs in two games was great run support. Kennedy Sullivan and Kelsey Aikey threw well today; both had great command and composure on the mound. I’m proud of the team’s attitude and effort today. We were locked in and focused.”

SUNDAY

Sunday’s contest proved to be the most difficult for WKU, as the Hilltoppers notched a close 2-0 decision against Bowling Green State University.

Sullivan smacked an RBI single in the fourth inning, allowing Thomas to cross home plate for the go-ahead run. WKU scored again in the seventh inning, as senior infielder Morgan McElroy scored off a dropped fly ball by the Falcons.

Junior pitcher Shelby Nunn (3-0) dealt five innings of two-hit ball before Aikey closed out the game with her second save of the season and the 14th of her career, which is tied for third among all active NCAA Division I pitchers.

UP NEXT

WKU will host the WKU Hilltopper Classic at the WKU Softball Complex this weekend, kicking off a long home stand that will include 14 games over three weeks on the Hill.

The tournament field consists of Green Bay, Indiana State and Ball State.

WKU faces Green Bay on Friday at 3 p.m., ISU on Friday at 5:30 p.m. and BSU on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. The Hilltoppers will also play two more games, but those are to be determined.

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