With only a couple weeks left before the Sun Belt Conference Tournament starts, the WKU Lady Topper softball team holds the third best record in the conference and look to gain ground this weekend.
That, however, will not be an easy task as WKU (31-16-1, 10-5 Sun Belt Conference) squares off with three teams that are ranked in the top 30 in the country.
Big innings plague WKU
The Lady Toppers fell victim to the run-rule against Texas State (22-26, 5-10 SBC) in the series finale Saturday, losing 11-2. The team gave up multiple runs in four of the five innings played Sunday, including four runs in the fourth inning.
Likewise, Tuesday against No. 8 Kentucky (39-9) the team allowed three runs each in the second, third, and fourth innings and was only one run away in the fifth inning from potentially seeing the run-rule again.
Senior infielder Amanda Thomas attributed this to both defensive and mental errors.
“They were putting the ball in play of course,” Thomas said. “We made some defensive errors, mental errors and they just kept getting hits and kept pushing. I think what helped them was them getting those extra bases when we couldn’t stop that with the mental errors.”
Davis’ another strong DP
Most of this year freshman Andie Martin has been the designated player for WKU and in 44 games this season, she has 22 hits and 17 RBI’s.
However, Tuesday night against Kentucky, Tudor went with another freshman in Kaylan Davis.
In Davis’ first start of the season, and really the first playing time she has seen, Davis went 1-for-4 with four RBI’s including her first career home run in the sixth inning to bring WKU within one.
Davis has been out of commission for the Lady Toppers after having surgery on her wrist. However, it seemed the wrist did not bother her Tuesday, although she feared it might.
In the plate appearance that led to the home run, Davis battled the whole way making the UK pitcher throw her 15 pitches in the at-bat. Number 15 paid off as Davis sent it sailing over the left field wall.
“I was nervous, I was really nervous,” Davis said. “That was nerve-racking. It’s my first game back (from surgery) thinking ‘is my wrist going to hurt’ – stuff like that. I was stressing, but I had my team behind and they were giving me good encouragement.”
Tudor stresses pitching going forward
Only one game separates South Alabama and WKU for the second spot in the Sun Belt making this weekend series between the two a big one.
Before the week started, coach Amy Tudor said that pitching, especially that from senior Emily Rousseau, was going to be big for the team for the rest of the season.
“We need Rousseau to have a big game,” Tudor said. “We feed off of her. When she does that we all get excited and the players respond. We need a little offense to help back up our pitching staff.”
Rousseau is 16-11 this season with a 2.52 ERA and has struck out 148 batters including a no-hitter against Troy.