Softball team shooting for history this weekend

Lucas Aulbach

The Lady Toppers are looking to extend their record-breaking season at the NCAA Tournament Regionals in Tuscaloosa, Ala. this weekend.

The trip down south is the icing on the cake for one of the best seasons in Lady Topper softball history. WKU (41-16, 20-3 Sun Belt Conference) is in the middle of its first-ever 40-win season and is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever.

The wins haven’t come against easy competition either. While the Lady Toppers broke the school record for most Sun Belt wins this season, they also posted a WKU-record six wins over top-25 teams this season, including a victory on the road three weeks ago over No. 11 Missouri.

Coach Tyra Perry, who was named Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year this season, said her players are the reason WKU has made it to the postseason.

“These young ladies are awesome,” Perry said. “They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do and they deserve this opportunity.”

WKU is one of a conference-record three Sun Belt teams selected to the NCAA Tournament Regionals, joining conference champion South Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette in the postseason.

The Lady Toppers were successful against conference opponents over the course of the regular season — WKU led the league with a 20-3 Sun Belt record and reeled off 15 consecutive conference wins at one point.

The Lady Toppers were able to pile up wins through their efforts at the plate. WKU was No. 3 in the Sun Belt in batting with a team average of .299 and boasted the conference’s co-home run leader in junior infielder Amanda Thomas, who had seven homers in league play.

Strong efforts on the plate also helped WKU make it to Tuscaloosa. The Lady Topper rotation was anchored by the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year junior Emily Rousseau, who finished the regular season 24-6, with senior Mallorie Sulaski and sophomore Janna Scheff combining for an additional 17 wins along the way.

WKU will kick off its NCAA Tournament run Friday at 3:30 p.m. against South Carolina Upstate (41-10, 17-10 Atlantic Sun Conference). The Lady Spartans, who made it this far by winning the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, are defensive specialists — they own the top fielding percentage in the NCAA at .983.

Junior infielder Olivia Watkins said if they play to the peak of their abilities, the Lady Toppers should come out with a win no matter who the opponent is.

“When we’re fearless, we don’t care who we’re playing,” Watkins said earlier this week. “We’re going to go out there and play our hardest and fight until the last inning.”