WKU, North Texas to face off in first round Sun Belt Tournament

Hasani Grayson

WKU’s first matchup of the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Tournament will put it against a North Texas team that gave the Lady Toppers trouble in the regular season.

The teams meet at 3 p.m. on Wednesday in Boca Raton, Fla.

But the Lady Toppers think they can get revenge for losses suffered earlier this year in Denton, Texas.

“We’re very excited,” said sophomore outfielder and Second-Team Sun Belt honoree Kelsie Mattox. “We owe them so it’s only appropriate that we play them first.”

The Lady Toppers went into the seventh inning with a lead in all three games in a series against the Mean Green. WKU came out of Denton with two losses and a tie.

After that series the coaching staff put a greater emphasis on pitching and defense, but sophomore pitcher Emily Rousseau said they haven’t done much different in practice this week.

“We’re just going to continue working on keeping the ball low and moving it around,” she said, “which I think that’s something we’ve been doing a lot more.”

WKU pitching gave up just one run in the last three games of the season.

Mattox, Rousseau and the rest of the Lady Toppers are looking to take the momentum from a strong regular season finish into the conference tournament. But Mattox pointed out the atmosphere surrounding these postseason games is different.

“It’s pretty fun but it’s business-like,” Mattox said. “You get to come and mingle and stuff like that but the next day you’ve got to get focused and ready.

“Everyone here believes they should they can win so you have to stay focused and show that we’re the ones who are going to win these games.”

If WKU wins, it will take on the winner of Louisiana-Lafayette and Florida Atlantic at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.

If the Lady Toppers lose, they’ll take on the loser of ULL and FAU at 12:30 p.m. Thursday in an elimination game.

The Lady Toppers’ season didn’t always go like how they would have liked it to, but Rousseau thinks they have a reason to be just as confident in their ability to win as every other team participating.

“We did have our ups and downs but we’ve gotten a lot more together and a lot more on the same page,” she said. “We’re just excited and ready to see how this week goes.”