Late rally not enough: WKU falls to No. 8 Kentucky 11-8

Austin Lanter

A late rally by the WKU Lady Topper softball team wasn’t enough Tuesday as the team fell to No. 8 Kentucky 11-8.

In the fifth inning, WKU (31-16-1, 10-5 Sun Belt Conference) was down by seven and on the verge of falling victim to the run-rule for the second straight game. The Lady Toppers scored two runs in the fifth and four in the sixth to pull within one.

However, UK got two back in the top of the seventh and ended WKU’s comeback, handing the Lady Toppers their second consecutive loss before hosting Lipscomb Wednesday.

“It’s huge (coming back),” coach Amy Tudor said. “I had a meeting with a couple of them this week and talked about that and where we want the season to go and I felt like those two kids responded and it bled through the team. I was really happy with our performance at the plate and never giving up.

“Obviously the score didn’t come out the way we wanted it to, but keep on getting in those situations and we’ll come out on top in the end.”

Senior pitcher Emily Rousseau got off to a rocky start, loading the bases in the first inning with only one out. However, the Lady Topper defense was able to turn a double play and get out of the inning with no damage done.

WKU was able to convert on its chances in the first inning courtesy of two out, RBI singles from seniors Kelsie Mattox and Amanda Thomas to take a 2-0 lead.

The Wildcats did not stay down for long though.

UK shortstop Christian Stokes sent the first pitch of the second inning over the wall in right center field to cut the lead to 2-1. The Wildcats tacked on two more runs in the inning to take the lead at 3-2.

The third inning proved to be another big one for UK as the team scored three more runs in the inning to stretch its lead to 6-2.

Two of the three runs in the inning came after Rousseau struck out a batter but junior catcher dropped the ball allowing the batter to try to reach first. WKU recorded the out but two runs tagged up as the throw back to home soared over McGill’s head.

With one swing of the bat from UK’s third baseman Nikki Sagermann WKU found itself down 8-2 as Sagermann blasted the ball over the centerfield wall for a two run home run. The Wildcats tacked on one more run in the inning as well.

“I feel like we made a few defensive mistakes, mental mistakes, and we didn’t throw very good pitches,” Tudor said.

WKU got two runs back in the bottom of the fifth inning thanks to RBI singles from freshmen Kaylan Davis and India Steward.

The sixth inning proved to be the big one for the Lady Toppers. After scoring one run off a passed ball, freshman designated hitter Kaylan Davis came to the plate with runners on the corners.

She battled the whole at bat and on the 15th pitch blasted a three run homer, the first of her career, over the left field wall to bring WKU within one run at 9-8.

“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.”

UK got a couple insurance runs in the seventh after loading the bases with only one out for the final score of 11-8.

WKU will be back in action Wednesday night against Lipscomb (35-11) at 5 p.m. at the WKU Softball Field.