The Lady Toppers’ season came to an end on Friday as they were eliminated by South Alabama in third game of a Sun Belt Conference Tournament triple-header.
The final game of the season ended up being a 4-2 extra innings loss for WKU.
Junior pitcher Mallorie Sulaski said that even though she made the pitches she wanted to make, bad luck played a role in her giving up the two game-winning runs in the eight inning.
“They got the lucky little bloop hits,” she said. “Like right between the outfield and the infield and there was nothing we could really do about it. It just didn’t go our way.”
South Alabama’s good luck came at a bad time for WKU. After going up by two in the fourth when Sulaski helped her own cause with two RBIs, South Alabama tied the score at two in the sixth. The collection of bloop hits in extra innings gave them a 4-2 lead.
WKU went down in order in the bottom half of the eighth and lost the game that would have propelled them to a conference championship game against Louisiana-Lafayette.
WKU had two losses on Friday, sandwiched around a win over Louisiana-Monroe.
Late in the ULM game, the Warhawks seemed to be on their way to a victory that would have sent WKU home. After the Lady Toppers scored two runs in the second inning ULM answered with three runs and held on to the slim one-run lead until the top of the seventh.
When sophomore infielder Preslie Cruce came up with her team down to their final outs and two runners on base, she said she was excited to make up for a mistake she made in the second inning.
“Earlier I had made an error so I was waiting for my chance to get back up to the plate,” she said. “I couldn’t wait to get up to the plate because I just knew I was going to get a hit.”
With two runners on, Cruce’s hit ended up being a three-run homer that gave the Lady Toppers a 5-3 lead.
Sophomore pitcher Emily Rousseau, who only allowed the three runs in the second, quietly retired ULM in the bottom of the seventh to complete the dramatic come-from-behind victory.
The first game of the day wasn’t just a game that didn’t go down to the final innings, but one that didn’t even make it to the full seven.
Louisiana-Lafayette won the Friday morning game 12-1. The mercy rule stopped the game after the fifth inning. Cruce said that they needed to refocus to brush off the early defeat and win their next game against ULM.
“I don’t think that during the ULL game that we played Western softball,” she said. “We knew that if we lost, we were coming home so we had lay everything out there against ULM.”
Even though WKU hadn’t played a triple-header during the season, Sulaski said it didn’t affect the team’s performance.
“I don’t think anyone really focused on the fact that there were three games,” she said. “We were playing to survive so I don’t think it affected us much.”
The season being over came as a disappointment to Cruce.
“I was really hoping for more,” she said. “We all went out there playing our hearts out but I feel we should have gotten further than what we did today.”
Sulaski said also wanted to bring home a conference championship but pointed out that the team is losing just two players for next year.
“We’re basically all coming back… so next year we will all have been there,” she said. “I think it’s really promising for next year with the talent that we have.”