Lady Tops claim two wins in Charlotte series

WKU seniors Taylor Proctor, catcher, and Kathryn Downing, pitcher, celebrate after Proctor tagging a runner out while sliding to home plate during the game against Charlotte on Saturday April 15, 2017 At the Softball Complex.Brook Joyner/HERALD

Kenton Hornbeck

The WKU Softball team won a tightly contested series with C-USA Charlotte over the weekend. The Lady  Tops improved to 24-22 overall with an 8-10 record within the conference.

The Lady Tops kicked off a Friday double header with a close 3-2 victory over the 49ers. In the top of the fourth inning, Charlotte broke a scoreless tie by an errant throwing error. The Lady Tops escaped danger by getting out of a bases loaded jam.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Lady Tops tied the ball game by way of freshman outfielder Paige Carter’s triple to right-center field. Redshirt junior infielder Brittany Vaughn followed up Carter with a hit by pitch.

This put two Lady Tops on the corners with no outs. After two straight outs, junior utility player Jordan Mauch drew a walk, loading the bases. Freshman pitcher Haylee Towers earned a full-count walk to knot the game up at one run apiece.

The Lady Tops took the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning with a sacrifice fly from freshman catcher Tommi Stowers to score freshman outfielder Taylor Childress.

Charlotte tied the game back up in the top of the seventh inning with a home run. Entering the crucial bottom of the seventh, WKU senior catcher Taylor Proctor led off the frame with a hit by pitch,  and sophomore infielder Rebekah Engelhardt moved Proctor to third base on a bunt single.

With a runner in scoring position, Vaughn launched a sacrifice fly to right-center field deep enough to plate Proctor to walk-off with the victory.

Senior pitcher Kathryn Downing pitched a complete game in the victory, her ninth complete contest of the 2017 season.

The later game in the Friday double header wasn’t as close for the 49ers, as WKU won handily 12-5. The first inning proved pivotal for the Lady Tops as they sent 12 batters to the dish in the bottom of the frame resulting in a seven-run inning.

Sophomore outfielder Kelsey McGuffin, Tower, Proctor and Vaughn all recorded an RBI in the first inning.

The Lady Tops tacked on two more runs in the top of the third and sixth innings with an  Engelhardt homerun and a McGuffin RBI double.

McGuffin, Proctor and Engelhardt all finished with two RBIs during the double header. Vaughn, Towers, Proctor and Engelhardt also went for multi-hit games.

Freshman pitcher Kelsey Aikey earned her fifth win of the season improving to 5-3. She also struck out four batters for her fifth complete game of the season.

“I’m really proud of our team’s fight in both of today’s game,” softball head coach Amy Tudor said, per release. “I felt like we battled in every inning, regardless of the situation, to come out on top to win both of today’s games.”

The Lady Tops couldn’t complete the sweep, however, as they dropped Saturday’s contest 2-0. The loss ended the Lady Tops four game winning streak.

Mauch kept her reached base streak to eight straight games with a walk and a single.

The Lady Tops had a difficult time Saturday as they left multiple runners stranded. Charlotte pitcher Haley Wiseman was a leading factor in the Lady Tops offensive struggles as she kept a no-hitter alive into the seventh inning.

Downing threw for her second complete game of the season and whiffed three batters. She fell to 13-9 on the season.

The Lady Tops will be back in action on Wednesday, April 19 as they head to Louisville for a non-conference battle with the Cardinals.

Reporter Kenton Hornbeck can be reached at 859-445-7702 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @KentonHornbeck.