WKU looks for post-season silverware after regular season title

Hunter Frint

The Lady Topper softball team secured the Conference USA Regular-Season Championship after notching their seventh conference series win this past weekend against Middle Tennessee. 

The three game series was held in Murfreesboro and closed out WKU’s regular season. WKU (31-12, 16-5) won the first game on Saturday 3-0, but slipped in the second, giving the Blue Raiders a 6-1 win.

The last game of the series—and the season—was a toss up. After making some adjustments at the plate, the Lady Toppers pulled through and won 11-7 securing the three-game series.

This win also secured the championship for WKU, who was picked to finish fifth in the C-USA preseason poll.

Having won every league series this season, the team is prepared to travel to Miami May 7 for the C-USA Tournament, starting with the Charlotte 49ers Thursday morning at 10 a.m.

“In every big game that we’ve played, we’ve been in it. If we’ve lost a game against a ranked opponent, it’s been by one, and so it can get a little frustrating, but also on the bright side of that is it’s one run,” Head Coach Amy Tudor said. “You know, a couple things go our way (and) we win those games.”

WKU took on Charlotte the weekend of April 24 in the Lady Toppers’ last home showcase of the season, winning the series 2-1. 

“We’re going to take Charlotte first and that’s our approach. You know, we stand there for 26 innings, I think, or 27, I’m not sure exactly and hopefully we have them figured out by now,” Tudor said. “It’s tourney time and anything can happen. You survive and move on.”

Assuming the Lady Toppers progress in the tournament, they will put Miranda Kramer on the mound in all contests. 

Kramer has broken and set several records this season for WKU. She recently earned her record breaking eighth C-USA Pitcher of the Week Award after setting the WKU softball program’s record of three no-hitters.

“I mean it’s no different than any game that we have. Obviously there’s a lot more pressure, but you know I can only control what I can control so going out and just keeping the batters off balance, spinning it, moving it,” Kramer said. “These next three games are probably going to be three of the best games I’m going to throw all year.” 

Charlotte is ranked No. 8 for the Tournament, and if the Lady Toppers pull a win they will be the first of potentially three opponents faced. 

“We got to get our pitch and put a good bat on the ball. We’ll hold it down in the circle and figure out ways to score runs. We’re ready to go,” Tudor said.  “We’re playing for the tournament. That’s what we can control, and that’s what we’re going to talk about is Charlotte, game one.”

Senior Infielder Preslie Cruce holds a batting average of .282, and the last time the team faced Charlotte the Atlanta native went 3-for-3 at the plate.

“I think we’re really excited. I’ve been dreaming about winning the Conference Tournament since, you know, the season started,” Cruse said. “This is our main goal. We’ve got to get through this [game] first to get to our next and to move on. It’s really, really important to me.” 

The C-USA Tournament will begin on May 7 and will end May 9. 

“I think on any given day any team can win. I think we’ve set ourselves up to be the home team. We’ve taken care of business. We’ve won every conference series that we’ve played,” said Coach Tudor, “I feel like we have dominance on the mound, and I feel like we have eight seniors who have postseason play. We’re going to take that into the tournament.”