Lady Topper softball revs up season with new look

Hunter Frint

With only one senior on the team and a loss of seven starters, WKU softball will begin the 2016 season with a new outlook after posting the highest winning percentage in program history last season.

The Lady Toppers finished last season with a 36-14 overall record and made it all the way to the NCAA Athens Regionals, where they fell to No. 14 contender Georgia Bulldogs.

All the changes to the squad provide new opportunities for several Lady Toppers. However, the changes do not alter Head Coach Amy Tudor’s high expectations for the team.

“After last season and losing seven starters, we’re very young but also very determined,” Tudor said. “I would say that this is probably the best team chemistry that we’ve had since I have been here.” Tudor gave senior infielder Brooke Holloway and junior pitcher Kathryn Downing credit for great leadership on and off the field. 

One major change to the program this season is the loss of pitcher Miranda Kramer. A transfer from IPFW her senior year, Kramer led WKU to the 2015 Conference USA championship.

According to, the lefty had a 26-10 overall record last season and was named the university’s 2014-15 female athlete of the year. Kramer shouldered the majority of the pitching last season as she started 36 of the Lady Toppers’ 50 games.

Tudor said she expects to spread the pitching load among five players this season instead of just one.

“Obviously it’s a big loss,” Tudor said. “It’s hard to replace an All-American that led the nation in strike-outs. So our team will definitely have a different look. However, we have five kids on staff that all provide different looks.”

One pitcher who will look to lead the pitching staff is sophomore pitcher Hannah Parker. Last season, Parker fielded a 6-1 personal record and an ERA of 4.82.

“We have Parker having the most experience by far,” Tudor said. “She is another lefty that right now is working into that No. 1 role.”

As a junior, Downing will be one of the only upperclassmen on the roster in the pitching position. Downing said even though pitching is not going to be the same as last season, she has confidence because this season’s team has 

the ability to be just as successful as last season’s.

“We’re not going to replace Miranda Kramer with Miranda Kramer,” Downing said. “It’s going to be a different look, and it’s going to take a committee. We’re going to have to play as a team and win a little bit differently than we did last year.”

With the loss of Kramer and the other seniors, the team has leadership roles to fill this season. With Holloway being the lone returning senior, that responsibility seems to fall on her. However, Holloway said she doesn’t feel like the only senior on the team.

“I’d definitely say Brooke has done a good job,” Tudor said. “She’s our lone true senior, and this will be her third season with me. She’s a leader by example as [she] makes good grades, does all the right things and is a great ball player. Wherever I ask her to play, she’s always up to helping the team. I think that that is vital to our success. We want leaders that are selfless, and I would say that’s who she is.”

The head coach also said she is counting on Downing’s leadership as a vocal player who has occupied many different roles since her freshman year.

Tudor said the team is looking forward to hosting more home games this season.

Last year the Lady Toppers played more matches away than at home. The advantage will be theirs with 29 home games, including two tournaments.

The Lady Tops will travel to Auburn, Alabama, to kick off the 2015 season this weekend. They will face Appalachian State, Butler, Furman and host team Auburn. The tournament will include back to back games beginning on Feb. 12 and ending on Feb. 14.