Lady Toppers clench C-USA regular season title

Senior pitcher Janna Scheff, of Cartersville, Georgia, throws a fast ball during the top of the second inning against the USM Lady Eagles in a double header, April 11. Andrew Livesay/Special to the HERALD

Hunter Frint

The Lady Toppers (31-12, 16-5), who were picked to finish fifth in a pre-season poll, have finished their regular season as Conference USA regular season champions. The finale of the regular season against Middle Tennessee (22-29, 5-19) ended with WKU clinching the series 2-1. 

The first two games were played on Saturday, with the Lady Toppers winning game one 3-0, but losing game two 6-1 due to MTSU’s strength at the mound. 

Game three was played Sunday. WKU secured the C-USA regular season Championship with a comeback win of 11-7.

“Yeah, I think we all feel good coming off of a win the last game of the regular season. We scored 11 runs, which feels fantastic,” said Head Coach Amy Tudor.

With this series win, the Lady Toppers have won all seven of the conference series played this season, along with two sweeps. 


Game One WKU-3, MTSU-0

Senior Miranda Kramer pitched her third no-hitter of the season and of her career during game one. This is the 10th no-hitter in WKU history and the fifth under Head Coach Amy Tudor in her two years with the program. 

Kramer is the only WKU pitcher in program history to accumulate three no-hitters. She threw 13 strikeouts total, while allowing just one walk. 

“It’s great. I didn’t even think about it until it happened,” said Kramer. “I’d never even thrown a no-hitter until this year, so it’s just kind of crazy to me that I have three in one year under Coach Tudor. It’s great. It’s exciting.”

WKU took advantage of three Tennessee errors and collectively had nine hits. Larissa Franklin went three for four and Shawna Sadler posted two hits.

Franklin began the game with a single. Kayti Hanson sacrificed a bunt, and after an illegal pitch Franklin bolted home for the first run of the game.

In the second inning, back-to-back errors posted Lexie Norfleet on third base. Shortly after, Franklin hit an RBI single that sent Norfleet home.

The final run for the Lady Toppers was set up in the fifth, when Brooke Holloway’s hit put senior Dani Pugh into scoring position. Norfleet then punched an RBI single down the right field line, sending Pugh to score the third run.


Game Two MTSU-6, WKU-1

The Blue Raider’s took the 6-1 win for game two on Saturday based on the four runs they scored in the second inning. WKU avoided a shut out in the second game with Sadler’s lone run in the sixth inning.

Middle Tennessee’s pitcher Megan Chocallo (5-5) earned the win, allowing just four hits and one walk. WKU’s pitcher Janna Scheff went 1.1 innings, allowing four hits, four walks and a strikeout. 

Hannah Parker came into the circle during the final 4.2 frames, giving up five hits, two runs and a pair of strikeouts.

MTSU’s Megan Griffith hit a grand slam over center field in the second inning to set the score at 4-0. Carlie Jenkins added a run at the top of the third. The home team had pulled ahead 5-0 after just three innings. 

The last run for MTSU was scored after two hits put runners on base. Kiarra Freeman hit an RBI, making the score 6-0 in the fourth.

WKU’s only run, scored by Sadler, was based off of a Hanson groundout and an error from Chocallo.


Game Three WKU- 11, MTSU- 7

Middle Tennessee posted a total of three pitchers in the circle during the last and final game of the series. Blue Raider senior Caitlin McClure (5-6) took the loss, pitching four innings. 

Franklin went four for five in the game, including two runs, one of which was an RBI, and three stolen bases. Hanson, Sadler and Kathryn Downing each notched a pair of hits. Franklin, Hanson and Holloway had two runs apiece.

“You know, you just got to pop that elephant sometimes, and I feel like they did that,” Tudor said.

Kramer started off pitching the game, going three innings and allowing just one hit. The Iowa native walked five and struck out four. 

Parker (6-1) was put in as relief in the fourth inning and totaled three strikeouts. She gave up seven hits, five runs and a walk.

In the third frame, MTSU had two scorers on base due to two walks. By the bottom of the fourth, the Blue Raiders had made the score 4-0 after back-to-back singles, an RBI hit to center and home was stolen by Cor’Nisha Birdsong.

The Lady Toppers notched six hits in the fifth inning and pulled ahead 8-4. Due to a Holloway walk, a single by Franklin and a single by Hanson, the bases were loaded when Sadler came up to bat. Sadler hit the ball to left field, bringing everyone home.

MTSU scored three more runs in the final inning, but the deficit was too much for them to make a come back. WKU secured the win 11-7 and will be back in action next in Florida for the Conference USA Championship Tournament. 

“Coming off a total team effort is huge when it’s tournament time. It’s going to take every single person to win that tournament,” said Tudor.