Toppers look for answers after recent skid

Lucas Aulbach

The Toppers have struggled since earning the defining win of their season last Tuesday.

WKU (22-23, 11-10 Sun Belt Conference) has lost four in a row since topping Kentucky in an 18-inning thriller on April 23.

The Toppers’ most recent loss is understandable — WKU fell 6-2 Tuesday at No. 11 Louisville.

The sweep last weekend at Arkansas-Little Rock, the ninth-ranked team in the Sun Belt, is what has WKU players scratching their heads.

Coach Matt Myers said while it wasn’t the only reason they’ve struggled lately, the Toppers had trouble recovering from that 18-inning marathon game.

“That 18-inning game took something out of us,” he said Thursday. “You don’t want to admit that, but I saw some fatigue this weekend.”

WKU has 10 games remaining before the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, which begins May 22 in Lafayette, La. The Toppers, who led the league for several weekends, currently sit at No. 5 in the Sun Belt after their recent conference skid.

Myers said WKU’s pitching will have to improve if the Toppers hope to finish the season strong.

WKU gave up a total of 26 runs in three games to UALR over the weekend, including a 16-6 drubbing in the last game of the series.

“Our pitching hasn’t been very good and when we’re not very good on the mound it really makes it difficult,” Myers said.

Pitching has been a strength for WKU for much of the season.

Junior infielder Scott Wilcox recorded one hit in the three games against the Trojans.

He said the Toppers need to stop thinking about the big picture and focus on winning games.

“At the plate we’re kind of overthinking things,” Wilcox said. “As long as we get back to what we were doing well in the middle part of the season once conference started we’ll be fine. Everybody is excited for this weekend to get going so we can get back to the way we know how to play.”

WKU’s next chance to get back on track will come at home this weekend in a three-game series against Louisiana-Monroe (16-29, 5-16 SBC). The Warhawks currently sit in last place in the Sun Belt standings.

Some time at home could be just what the Toppers need. Their last four losses have come on the road — last Tuesday’s win against Kentucky at Bowling Green Ballpark was the last time the Toppers earned a victory.

Myers said playing at home lets his players stay in their routine, which should translate to a better product on the field.

“I think simplifying, getting back to our routine, getting at home in their own beds — I know we’ve got finals coming up, but I think it’s good to be back home,” the coach said.

The weekend series starts with a game Friday at 6 p.m., followed by games on Saturday and Sunday. All will be played at Nick Denes Field.

Wilcox said the Toppers hope to pick up some momentum in front of the home crowd.

“After last weekend we kind of slipped a little bit in the standings but if we keep playing hard and battling and get back to where we know how to play we’ll be fine,” he said.