Softball drops weekend series vs. UAB

WKU infielder Brittany Vaughn (5) collides with University of Alabama at Birmingham catcher Olivia Black (44) during the Lady Toppers’ 7-3 win on Saturday at the WKU Softball Complex.

Tyler Mansfield

The WKU softball team dropped its weekend series against Conference USA foe Alabama-Birmingham, losing two out of the three games at the WKU Softball Complex.

The Lady Toppers (20-20 overall, 4-8 C-USA) fell 1-0 in nine innings to open the slate in the first game of a Saturday doubleheader before taking a 7-3 win in the second contest to tie the series at 1-1. In Sunday’s rubber match, WKU fell short, 3-2, losing its second-straight league series.

In the Tops’ victory on Saturday, shortstop Brittany Vaughn went 2 for 4 and scored three runs while also recording an RBI. Right fielder Paige Carter also went 2 for 4 on the afternoon, tallying two RBI in the process.

After suffering the slim defeat in the opener of the three-game slate, WKU was able to turn things around and secure a win in the series.

The Bowling Green High School graduate Vaughn put the Lady Toppers ahead 1-0 early by scoring on a wild pitch. Designated player Jordan Mauch followed Vaughn’s run by stepping into the box in the clean-up spot and drilling a two-out homerun over the left field wall to increase WKU’s lead.

“We didn’t have enough run support in game one, but the team responded well from the start in game two and put together some key at bats that produced several runs,” head coach Amy Tudor said.

Leading 4-1, senior catcher Taylor Proctor reached base after being hit by a pitch and Vaughn went on to send the catcher home with a double off of the centerfield wall while also recording a triple and RBI in the process. Carter’s RBI single soon plated Vaughn and increased the Toppers’ advantage to 6-1.

A two-run homer from UAB cut the WKU lead to 6-3, but Vaughn would score once more while Carter was in a rundown after hitting a single into right field, ending the contest’s scoring.

On the mound, freshman starting pitcher Kelsey Aikey gave up seven hits and three runs while striking out three batters in 4.2 innings thrown. Fellow freshman Haylee Towers entered and earned the save while pitching the final 2.1 innings.

“In game two, I thought Aikey and Towers both threw well also,” Tudor said. “It was great to see both of them throwing some quality innings while our defense contributed some great defensive players.”

Trying to come out victorious with a win in the rubber match, the Lady Tops would lead early, but dropped a slim decision to the Lady Blazers. A solo homerun from sophomore infielder Rebekah Engelhardt in the bottom of the fourth inning put WKU up 1-0, but UAB responded with two runs to take a 3-1 advantage.

The Lady Toppers would plate a run on Proctor’s RBI groundout in the bottom of the seventh, but it wouldn’t be enough for the comeback.

“We’re disappointed not to win the series, but I’m proud of our pitchers’ performances, as well as the bottom of our lineup for producing hits this weekend,” Tudor added. “We kept ourselves in every game this weekend and had several opportunities to put runs across the plate in each of the games.”

Reporter Tyler Mansfield can be reached at (270) 935-0007 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @CallMeMansfield.