Softball sweeps Troy in Sun Belt opener

Senior pitcher Emily Rousseau (42) pitches the ball during the 1st inning at the women’s softball game against the University of Northern Iowa on Friday, February 28 at Buchanon Park in Bowling Green, Ky. The tops lost 3-6. (Kreable Young/HERALD)

Austin Lanter

The WKU Lady Topper Softball team scored early and often in its Sun Belt Conference opening weekend sweep against Troy.

WKU (19-10-1, 3-0 Sun Belt) took the three games from the Trojans (14-18-2, 0-3 SBC) with scores of 3-0, 8-1, and 5-0 respectively.

The team bounced back nicely from two mid-week defeats at the hands of Louisville, including a game in which the Cardinals threw a no-hitter on the Lady Toppers.

“We really worked on what we didn’t do well all week after we played Louisville, and Louisville’s a good team,” Coach Amy Tudor said. “We took ourselves out of the game. We knew what our approach was going to be at the plate and I thought our girls executed that.”

In each of the three games, the team was able to plate a run in the bottom of the first inning to take an early lead. From there, WKU did not look back.

Pitching was key for the Lady Toppers in the first game as senior pitcher Emily Rousseau threw a complete game allowing no runs or walks and striking out nine batters.

The team scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, including a solo home run from sophomore infielder Brooke Holloway, to take the game 3-0.

In the second game of the series, the Lady Toppers scored at least one run in every inning en route to an 8-1 victory.

“That was our goal, to win every inning,” Holloway said. “So scoring every inning was achieving that goal.”

Senior outfielder Kelsie Mattox led the team with two hits and a trio of RBIs in game two. Freshman designated player Andie Martin had a solo shot of her own over the centerfield wall to lead off the second inning.

Freshman pitcher Hannah Miniard improved her record to 9-3 on the season with a win in game two, only allowing one run and striking out four.

“They did great,” Mattox said. “They knew their role to come out and try to pitch seven for us and they did a great job.”

In the third game, Rousseau took a perfect game into the seventh inning, but lost it when she walked a batter with only two outs to go.

She did, however, throw her first career no-hitter in WKU’s 5-0 win to complete the series sweep.

“She was dynamite,” Tudor said. “I felt like she had control of all of her pitches. To throw a no-hitter is huge. It doesn’t happen in everyone’s career, and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Seven different players recorded a hit for the Lady Toppers on Sunday. Junior outfielder Shawna Sadler led the way with two RBIs that day.

Tudor said it was huge to begin their Sun Belt title defense with three wins the opening weekend of conference play.

“I think it’s huge to come out swinging and pitching well,” she said. “I thought we did well in all three facets of the game. (It) all came together this weekend, game one through game three. I think it’s a huge momentum going into conference.”

WKU will play another mid-week game this week when the team travels to Murray State on Wednesday. The team will then head to Texas for a three-game series with Texas Arlington.