Hilltoppers sweep FAU in doubleheader to stay undefeated in C-USA

Junior Pitcher Kelsey Aikey pitches during WKU’s game against Charlotte at the WKU Softball Complex beginning March 23 in Bowling Green. Aikey was just named Conference USA Pitcher of the Week

Sophie Austin

The WKU softball team is now 8-0 in conference play after walking away with two wins in Saturday’s doubleheader against Florida Atlantic.

“I like the way that we’re playing,” head coach Amy Tudor said after the game. “We’re competitive, we’re focused and we’re having fun.”

The Hilltoppers scored first and never trailed in their first game of the day, which ended 10-3.

WKU got on the board early, putting up two runs in the bottom of the first from senior outfielder Shannon Plese and sophomore catcher Kendall Smith.

Senior infielder Rebekah Engelhardt and sophomore outfielder Jordan Thomas kept the offensive momentum going in the bottom of the second when they each hit a home run. It was Engelhardt’s seventh of the season and Thomas’ fourth.

FAU put up two runs in the third inning to make it 4-2, but the Hilltoppers responded with an impressive performance at bat to add five runs and give them a seven run lead. The Owls added a third run in the fifth while WKU added its 10th run in the sixth, which concluded the scoring of the game.

Junior Kelsey Aikey pitched the first five innings before being replaced by sophomore Shelby Nunn who would pitch the final two innings. Aikey posted a career high of 11 strikeouts, while allowing just three hits and one walk to earn the win in the circle.

Nunn earned her fourth save of the season, allowing just one hit and striking out the final batter to finish the game.

Saturday’s second game ended much closer than the first, with the Hilltoppers pulling away with a 2-0 win.

“I think pitch selection we got a little anxious in game two versus in game one. I thought their pitcher did a nice job against us,” head coach Amy Tudor said. “But having solid defense and solid pitching you can win 2-0 ball games.”

The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the third when Smith singled to bring Paige Carter home. The Hilltoppers added their second and final run in the fourth inning when Engelhardt doubled to bring freshman pitcher Kennedy Sullivan home.

Sullivan pitched all seven innings to earn the complete-game shutout, throwing nine strikeouts and allowing five hits. The win makes her 14-2 on the season and 5-0 in conference play.

“I’ve actually been down the past couple weekends I’ve pitched,” Sullivan said. “So to come out and get a shutout and kind of get my confidence back up was great.”

The two wins kept the Hilltoppers undefeated in conference play, and they will be looking to earn their third straight sweep of a Conference USA opponent when they conclude the FAU series tomorrow. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.

Softball reporter Sophie Austin can be reached at 270-745-2653 and [email protected].