Softball prepares for west coast tournament

Austin Lanter

After spending last weekend in Fort Myers, Fla., the WKU Lady Topper softball team will travel to the opposite coast to face three formidable opponents in the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament. 

The tournament, hosted by UCLA, will take place in Los Angeles, and the Lady Toppers will open the weekend against UC-Davis.

The two other teams WKU will face are Robert Morris and UCLA. Currently, the Bruins are ranked 13th in the nation with a perfect 5-0 record.

“When you think about UCLA, you think about all the national championships they’ve won,” coach Amy Tudor said. “I think it’s a unique opportunity and you never know what can happen.”

The Bruins have 11 national championships, with the last one coming in 2010.

“They’re just a powerhouse,” Tudor said. “I think it’s just a neat opportunity to go play at UCLA.”

For senior infielder Amanda Thomas, the game against UCLA is a chance for the team to get a big win over a big name opponent for the first time in her career.

“UCLA is going to be a big one but we’re looking forward to the opportunity to go out there and show them,” Thomas said. “We’ve always given those big teams good competition. We’ve never taken it to the next level and actually beaten them so we’re looking to take it to the next level.”

UC Davis and Robert Morris will be no easy task for WKU either. Despite UC Davis’ 1-4 record, Tudor said they’re going to be tough competition.

“They beat Arkansas in their first game so they’re going to be competitive,” she said. “They’ve got two hitters hitting over .400 and a pitcher that has an ERA of about two so they’re going to be quality.”

Robert Morris, like UCLA, is also undefeated at 4-0. Two players are hitting over .500 on the season thus far and they have a pitcher with an ERA of zero.

Overall, the coach said playing tough teams early in the season is a good thing for her team.

“I think it’ll be good preparation to get us going before conference,” Tudor said.

Although the team came away with three wins opening weekend, there were some thing that need to be cleaned up. According to freshman infielder Andie Martin, a lot of this is due to new players.

Thomas said that the team will need to focus on its communication this week in preparation for the weekend tournament.

In the Lady Toppers’ tournament last weekend, Thomas, who already has the most home runs in program history, became the all-time leader for RBI’s as well.

“A few things is just communication with each other during plays, before plays, and knowing where to go,” Thomas said. “Not speeding up the game and kind of slowing it down so we can control what we can do on the field. Control the game, don’t let the game control us.”

WKU will open the tournament against UC Davis Friday at 12 p.m. CT. For the tournament, the Lady Toppers will face UC Davis and Robert Morris twice and UCLA once.