Hilltoppers swept by offensive onslaught from FAU

Sports graphic

Tyler Eaton

The WKU softball team dropped its last Conference USA road series in Boca Raton, Florida, to Florida Atlantic, giving up a combined 29 runs while being swept by the Owls.

The series began with the Hilltoppers dropping both of the games in Saturday’s doubleheader, despite holding a multiple-run lead in each game. WKU also had three home runs across those two games.

In game one, WKU jumped out in the top of the first to put three runs on the board early. Junior outfielder Kelsey McGuffin drew a bases-loaded walk to bring the first run across, and junior infielder Rebekah Engelhardt followed that with a two-RBI single to give the Hilltoppers a 3-0.

Florida Atlantic responded with nine unanswered runs, pushing six across in the bottom of the first, with only three of those being earned. The Owls scored three more in the bottom of the third, extending their lead to 9-3.

WKU answered the six-run inning with a four-run fifth inning of their own, all off the bat of freshman outfielder Jordan Thomas. Two base runners reached by an error and a walk, and then sophomore infielder Morgan McElroy singled to load the bases. Thomas proceeded to hit WKU’s first grand slam of the season, making the score 9-7.

FAU scored one run in the bottom of the fifth, but the score line featured zeroes the rest of the way as WKU dropped game one 10-7.

Game two followed a very similar pattern, as the Hilltoppers found themselves with the bases loaded in the top of the first again. This time, however, WKU failed to bring a run across, and FAU scored two in the bottom of the inning to lead 2-0 after one.

WKU responded in a big way in the second inning, plating six runs to take a 6-2 lead into the bottom of the second. The last two of those runs came on a two-run home run to left field by Engelhardt, her seventh home run on the year.

The Owls began to slowly chip away at the WKU lead, scoring two runs in the third and one more in the fourth to make it 6-5 headed into the top of the fifth inning. The WKU bats brought around three more runs in the fifth inning, with two of those runs being unearned.

FAU scored one run in the bottom of the fifth, but the WKU offense kept rolling in the sixth, as McGuffin hit a three-run home run to open up a 12-6 lead. The home run was also her seventh on the year.

The Owls rallied, scoring six runs in the bottom of the sixth to even the score at 12 before the game went into extra innings. FAU ultimately won on a walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth.

Sunday saw a dominant performance from FAU, especially on the mound. WKU only managed one hit in the game, but that one hit was a solo home run from Thomas, giving her two for the weekend and five on the season.

WKU gave up three runs in the bottom of the third, as well as another three in the bottom of the fifth. The Hilltoppers failed to mount any offense outside of Thomas’ home run in the top of the fourth.

The sweep drops the Hilltoppers to 26-23 overall and 9-12 in C-USA play. The Hilltoppers will be back in action at home Thursday against Libscomb before the season finale series at home against Florida International.

Reporter Tyler Eaton can be reached at 270-776-6797 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @at_eaton.