WKU heads to Carbondale for series against Southern Illinois

John Reecer

The WKU baseball team played No. 1 ranked Vanderbilt in Nashville on Wednesday to kick off a four-game road series that will take the team to Carbondale, Illinois for a series against Southern Illinois. 

This week’s games will be a critical stretch for the Hilltoppers who started out 2-4, highlighted by two one-run loses against Evansville University. 

The three-game weekend series against the Southern Illinois Salukis will start Friday at 3 p.m.  

With only one win against Eastern Kentucky on the year, the 1-6 Salukis will give the Hilltoppers an opportunity to win their first series of the season. 

“Southern is a very young team. They lost a lot of production from last season,” Head Coach Matt Myers said. “They are so young that I don’t know a whole about them. They will bring a lot of new things to the table against us.” 

The Hilltoppers will try to use this stretch of games to work out some early season issues involving their pitching staff that currently holds a 6.33 team ERA on the year. 

“Our starting pitching has got to get better,” Myers said. “We can’t go to our talented bullpen so early. We have to be able to go five to six innings until we throw in our other guys.” 

WKU’s performance at the plate has been a different story. 

Eight different players have a batting average of at least .250, four of which are batting at least .300. 

The Hilltoppers can also hit with power as they currently have 33 RBI’s on the season, highlighted by six different players hitting at least one home run. 

Senior first baseman Ryan Church and senior designated hitter Philip Diedrick’s performances at the plate stand out from the other Hilltoppers. Diedrick is batting .348 with eight RBI’s, two home runs and 17 total bases, while Church is currently batting .320 with nine RBI’s and 16 total bases.

“We can definitely play big-boy ball at the plate right now,” said Coach Myers. “Ryan Church and Phillip Diedrick have stepped up and stood out this season. If we can just improve our pitching, we will be a hard team to beat.”     

Myers pointed out Vanderbilt’s success from the pitching mound this season, in relation to the success he is looking for from his team. 

“Vanderbilt pitches very well as they have one of the best pitching staffs in the country,” said Myers. “Not only do they return a lot off of last year’s championship team, but they do the little things very well, which makes them tough to beat.” 

As of press time on Wednesday the Vanderbilt game had not concluded. Check WKUHerald.com for updates.