Hilltoppers’ bats off to a hot start in 2017

Junior pitcher Paul Kirkpatrick led Hilltoppers on Sunday Feb. 19, 2017 pitching 4.1 innings and getting two strikeouts. WKU fell 2-5 to Valparaiso in their first loss of the season.

Kenton Hornbeck

The explosive power of the Hilltopper baseball program’s bats revealed themselves last weekend after a three-game homestand against Valparaiso.

Consistent hitting was the key for the Toppers with several players swinging hot bats.

Junior outfielder Colie Currie had an exciting debut weekend with five hits, going 1-4 on Friday including a decisive home run. He followed up Friday’s strong performance going 2-4 on both Saturday and Sunday. Currie collected 13 runs batted in throughout the weekend and was a lynch pin at the top of the lineup.

“I think we did good,” Currie said. “Pitching stepped up. Friday, we kind of struggled a little bit but our offense carried us and our pitching improved as the weekend went on.”

Currie wasn’t the only Topper with a strong weekend at the plate. The Toppers had five separate players with multi-hit games.

Senior catcher Hunter Wood had two multi-hit games going 2-5 on Friday and 2-4 on Saturday. Junior outfielder Stephen Kraft collected four hits during the weekend providing a crucial two knocks in Friday’s walk-off win.

The most exciting offensive moment of the weekend came from junior outfielder Kaleb Duckworth. Going hit-less through nine innings, Duckworth showed his raw power by mailing a walk-off blast over the left field wall propelling the Toppers to a 5-3 win.

The Toppers followed up Friday’s performance with a 4-2 win after graduate senior Thomas Peter’s go ahead home run in the 9th inning.

WKU had issues closing out games in the late innings last season. With two close wins over the weekend, the Toppers displayed their heart and grit early and often. Close victories early in the season can provide baseball teams with the confidence and experience to grind out tight games later in the season.

Currie was satisfied at his plate approach this weekend. After being one of many new faces on the team, the junior college transfer displayed poise in the lead-off spot providing numerous key moments at the plate for the rest of the team to feed off.

“Just put the ball anywhere and make the defense make a play could lead to possibilities for us,” Currie said. “I just thought just don’t get under the ball, stay on top of the ball, just hit it hard and things worked out for us.”

After failing to sweep the Crusaders on Sunday, the Toppers remain optimistic in their ability to stay in games with their recent hitting production.

“I know our hitters have worked really hard,” Head Coach John Pawlowski said. “They’ll continue to work hard. But you know sometimes that’s baseball. You got opportunities that come and go. I know they’re tough, they’re resilient, they’ll come back and they’ll find a way to get back out there on Tuesday.”

The Toppers will look to rebound against an upstart Belmont team on Tuesday in Nashville. As far as Currie is concerned, it’s just business as usual.

“We just get back in the cage, get out here, take BP [batting practice], just drill and iron out the swings and we’ll be good to go.”