WKU off to best start in program history following Hilltopper Classic

Senior outfielder Shannon Plese launches a home run during the the Hilltoppers’ win over Indiana State in the WKU Softball Complex on Monday.

Sophie Austin

Impressive performances in the circle and at the plate led the WKU softball team to finish the Hilltopper Classic undefeated in its games Sunday and Monday. The Hilltoppers defeated Butler 3-0 on Sunday, Cleveland State 10-3 on Sunday and 8-0 on Monday and Indiana State 9-7 on Monday.

A big performance in the circle by Kennedy Sullivan lead the Hilltoppers to defeat Butler in WKU’s first game of the tournament on Monday. The freshman dealt 16 strikeouts and allowed only three hits in the shutout against the Bulldogs.

Sullivan also had a big day at the plate on Sunday, going 3-for-6 on the day with including a double and three RBI.

“Kennedy had a great day on the mound,” head coach Amy Tudor said in a press release. “Anytime you can strike out 16 batters you are dealing from the circle. She set the precedent and we scored enough runs to win that ball game.”

Sullivan had a total of 22 strikeouts in the tournament.

The Hilltoppers came back from a three point deficit in their second game on Sunday against CSU The Vikings had put three runs on the board and held the Hilltoppers at zero by the end of the third inning.

A huge sixth inning helped WKU defeat CSU 10-3. The Hilltoppers brought in eight runs and sent 13 batters to the box in the inning.

“They responded and they made adjustments to hitting pitches that were in their legs,” Tudor said. “That’s something that we talk about a lot, you know chasing balls, you’re not going to be a good hitter.”

Sophomore Shelby Nunn delivered four strikeouts in WKU’s second game against CSU on Monday, which ended in an 8-0 victory for the Hilltoppers. Nunn allowed CSU only one hit in the shutout.

“It was my defense behind me,” Nunn said. “Just being able to know that they’re behind me, you have no pressure out there. It’s just like you’re having fun.”

The Hilltoppers earned their fourth win of the weekend against ISU. WKU took the lead early with three runs in the first inning, never trailed, and finished the game with a 9-7 victory.

WKU was up 8-2 in the sixth inning when ISU gained some momentum, scoring three runs and adding two more in the seventh, but the Hilltoppers were able to hold them off to take the victory.

Nunn entered the circle in the top of the seventh to hold the Sycamores at seven and earn a one-out save for the Hilltoppers.

Junior Tommi Stowers got her first start for the Hilltoppers in the game against ISU and did not disappoint. Stowers delivered a two run home run in the first inning to give the Hilltoppers a 3-0 lead.

Stowers also had two doubles on Monday and went 4-for-4 at the plate.

“My day at the plate today was great,” Stowers said. “I kind of just went up there and I knew that I was going to get a good pitch to hit, so I was looking for the one right down the middle.”

Senior Shannon Plese, sophomore Jordan Thomas and senior Rebekah Engelhardt also had home runs in Monday’s games.

The four wins move the Hilltoppers to 10-2 on the season, the best start in program history.

“I feel like going 4-0 this weekend was a huge accomplishment because as we get into conference it is going to get harder,” Stowers said after Monday’s games. “I think this is also good for our morale because we do need a win.”

The Hilltoppers will be on the road over the next three weekends starting in Birmingham, Alabama for four games at the Samford tournament which is set to begin on Friday, March 1.

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