WKU splits doubleheader after walk-off hit

WKU Lady Toppers celebrate after beating FIU 7-6 in the final inning of the teams’ second game Saturday afternoon at the WKU Softball Complex.

Hasani Grayson

After a disappointing effort in the first game, WKU came up with some key hits late in the second game to earn a split of its doubleheader against Florida International Saturday at the WKU Softball Complex.

The Lady Toppers dropped the first game 4-1 and got a walk off hit to take the second game 7-6.

Preslie Cruce got the scoring started in the first game with her fourth home run in the last seven games. The 212-foot solo shot put WKU up 1-0.

FIU took the lead in the fourth when a ball that senior outfielder Larua Smith originally broke back on fell in front of her as she missed it on the dive. Runners on second and third both scored on the play.

Pitcher Emily Rousseau gave up a two-run homer in the inning to bring the score to 4-1 in favor of FIU. Neither team scored in the game after that inning and WKU would fall to FIU by a 4-1 final score.

In the second game of the day WKU jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the second inning after an RBI from Thomas and unearned run scored by junior infielder Ciara Garcia.

WKU got out to a 3-0 lead but gave up two runs in the fourth when junior pitcher Mallorie Sulaski gave up an RBI double with runners on second and third. With the score now at 3-2, Sulaski walked the next two batters to load the bases.

Junior pitcher Kim Wagner came on in relief and got the 1-2-3 double play to get out the inning and preserve the slim one run lead.

But Wagner was under pressure again as a leadoff walk and two consecutive hits loaded the bases again in the top of the fifth. Wagner gave up the tying run but limited the damage, getting out the inning with bases loaded and the score tied at three.

Junior catcher Karavin Dew broke the tie quickly, however, hitting a solo shot that was just barely able stay fair down the left field line.

“I’m trying to work on trusting my swing and I knew she was going to give me something good,” she said.

Wagner ran into more trouble in the sixth and seventh when a bases-loaded single tied the game at five and a solo shot in the next inning gave FIU the 6-5 lead.

Sulaski and Wagner walked five batters each but Dew said her message to the pitchers was, “’just let your defense work behind you, give us something to work with and we’ll try to back you up.’”

The Lady Toppers got the best of FIU in the end with a two out game winning single by junior outfielder Kelsie Mattox.

Mattox, who pointed out Garcia’s at bat helped by moving both runners into scoring position, said she was trying to have a better at-bat than the ones she had earlier.  

“I was just looking to have a quality at bat” she said, “I hadn’t been seeing the ball as well as I’d like to earlier. So I was just trying to see the ball deep, swing at strikes.”

Head Coach Tyra Perry also had a simple message for her pitchers telling them to “do their best and play their game.”

Mattox thought the win could give them an extra boost of confidence and says her team is determined to take the series finale from the Lady Panthers on Sunday.

“We’re going to be ready to come out tomorrow we know its going to be another dogfight,” Mattox said, “so we’re going to come after it and win the series.”