The Lady Topper softball team began its Sun Belt Conference title defense Saturday with a pair of wins against Troy at home.
WKU was able to bounce back from two mid-week home losses against Louisville to take game one of the day 3-0. In the second game, the team scored early and often en route to an 8-1 win to improve to 18-10-1 on the season and 2-0 in Sun Belt Conference play while Troy falls to 14-17-2 and 0-2.
“It’s big,” senior infielder Kelsie Mattox said. “You want to set the tone earlier in conference, to be that team that people want to beat, so coming out and being on our A-game first day is very important.”
In the first game of the doubleheader, WKU jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. With two outs, junior infielder Preslie Cruce was able to connect with the Trojan offering for a single. Two batters latter senior infielder Amanda Thomas hit a shot to the outfield to bring Cruce home to take the lead.
The Lady Toppers extended their lead in the fifth inning. With one out, sophomore infielder Brooke Holloway hit a solo home run to right-center field to double the WKU lead.
The very next batter, senior infielder Olivia Watkins, reached first base and then proceeded to steal second and third. The Trojan catcher, Alison Milam, tried to catch Watkins stealing third but sent the ball sailing over the head of the third baseman allowing Watkins to plate another run for the team.
Troy threatened in the sixth inning, getting runners on second and third with one out. However, Rousseau was able to work out of trouble and end the inning with no damage done.
In the second game, WKU scored at least one run in every inning and would ultimately win the game 8-1.
“That was our goal, to win every inning,” Holloway said. “So scoring every inning was achieving that goal.”
WKU wasted no time taking the lead in the game. With one out in the first inning, junior outfielder Shawna Sadler was able to get on base with a single. The next batter, Cruce, connected on a double to bring Sadler in and take the 1-0 lead.
Freshman designated player Andie Martin led off the second inning with a solo shot over the center field wall to push the WKU lead to 2-0.
In the third inning, the first two batters for WKU reached base. Then, with runners on second and third, Mattox found the gap between left and center field for a two RBI single.
The Trojans finally broke through in the fourth inning courtesy of an RBI single from shortstop Becca Hartley to cut the WKU lead to 4-1.
However, WKU got the run back in the bottom of the frame to go back up by four at 5-1.
The Lady Toppers added two more runs in the fifth inning thanks to RBI’s from junior catcher Jacqueline McGill and Holloway and one in the sixth inning from the bat of Mattox.
In both games the WKU pitchers, senior Emily Rousseau (9-7) and freshman Hannah Miniard (9-3) pitched complete games and combined to give up one run while striking out 13.
“They did great,” Kelsie Mattox said. “They knew their role to come out and try to pitch seven for us and they did a great job.”
The two teams will play the third and final game of the series at noon Sunday at the WKU Softball Field.