Slugfest on Friday leads Hilltoppers to series win over Charlotte

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.

Casey McCarthy

The WKU softball team dropped its final game of the weekend Saturday against UNC Charlotte but secured the series win 2-1 behind a home-run filled Friday doubleheader.

The Hilltoppers (21-12, 5-4) managed a .429 slugging percentage on the weekend, with a .329 on-base percentage, led by senior Brittany Vaughn’s .700 mark. The team’s five home runs on Friday brought their season total to 25.  

“The long ball was huge for us today,” head coach Amy Tudor said on Friday in a press release. “We did a great job of picking our pitches and kept our bats in the zone, which resulted in some hard hits. I’m really proud of how we played defense and ran the bases today.”

Freshman Jordan Thomas secured one of those five home runs to lead off the first game of the series, sending the third pitch of the afternoon over the center field wall for her second home run of her freshman season. Thomas has been a force in the leadoff position this season, hitting 25 for 47 in leadoff opportunities to give her a .532 OBP.

The Hilltoppers continue to lead the conference in doubles, triples, and RBIs. Juniors Kelsey McGuffin and Rebekah Engelhardt both picked up their fourth multi-RBI games on the season on Friday. Engelhardt and McGuffin both hit multiple home runs Friday to tie them for the team-high with five apiece. McGuffin added her ninth multi-hit game on the season, with junior Jordan Vorbrink securing her fourth.

After Thomas’ leadoff home run in the first game of the weekend Friday, the 49ers responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the first. Engelhardt and McGuffin would both respond with homers to lead off the third and fourth innings respectively.

Charlotte got a run back in the sixth but was unable to claw back, as WKU took the weekend opener 3-2. Sophomore Kelsey Aikey (7-3) would take the win, pitching 6.0 innings with two runs given up on six hits. She recorded three strikeouts. Freshman Shelby Nunn came in for her second save of the season, pitching the final inning.  

Waiting to the second inning to strike in the second game of the day, McGuffin kicked things off for the Hilltoppers with the her second leadoff home run of the day to begin the second inning. Engelhardt would knock her second home run of the day, a two-run shot over the left-center field wall to bring the lead to 3-0.  

The 49ers responded in the fourth to avoid the shutout, but WKU got two more runs in the fifth and seventh to secure the 5-1 victory and the series win. Nunn (13-8) pitched her eighth complete game of the year, with five strikeouts and one earned run on eight hits.  

Charlotte pitcher Haley Wiseman had a no-hit bid going into the top of the sixth inning before the Hilltoppers managed a pair of hits in the last two innings. The Hilltoppers couldn’t turn either of these hits into any runs as they dropped the final game of the weekend 3-0. Wiseman had nine strikeouts on the day.

Aikey took the decision in the game, pitching 4.1 innings with two strikeouts and three earned runs on eight hits. Nunn pitched the final 1.2 with one strikeout and one hit.  

Brittany Vaughn had her 13th stolen base on the season in the game and is a perfect 13 for 13 in steal attempts on the year. Her 13 stolen bases leads the team.

The team’s next contest is Wednesday, as they head to Murray to face Murray State in a non-conference tilt.

Reporter Casey McCarthy can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]