WKU remains in middle of Sun Belt pack

Junior infielder Adam Lavelle is congratulated by teammates after scoring a run against Troy at Nick Denes Field Saturday. WKU beat Troy 9-4.

Kurt Carson

WKU (17-23, 8-10 Sun Belt Conference) had been right on the edge of being a bottom-feeder in the Sun Belt Conference standings and being in the middle of the pack.

This weekend’s series against Troy (17-22, 6-12) — a team with a worse conference record than WKU — was a big one for the Toppers to prove their worth in this year’s Sun Belt race.

The series started off gloomy as WKU dropped the opener on Friday night by a score of 13-3 to the Trojans.

However, the Toppers rebounded to win the final two games of the series and earn an important series’ victory.

Head Coach Matt Myers said it was huge to get the series victory against the Trojans.

Most importantly, it builds momentum for his team heading into another critical series this coming weekend against Louisiana-Monroe (19-21, 7-11).

“If we can take care of business, it just gets us closer to securing a spot in the tournament which is right here in Bowling Green,” Myers said.

Senior center fielder Jared Andreoli said he hopes WKU can simply keep notching its way up the conference standings.

“Troy was right there, so hopefully we knocked them down a couple of notches,” Andreoli said. “Hopefully we can keep building and just get in that tournament. That’s obviously the goal at this point.”

The Toppers are currently in sixth place in the Sun Belt but sit just a game ahead of three other teams.

The top eight teams in the Sun Belt advance to the Sun Belt Tournament which is hosted by WKU at Bowling Green Ballpark this season.

WKU also faces a tough conference schedule the rest of the way.

The Toppers face opponents who have a better record than them in three out of four remaining Sun Belt series with the only exception being ULM this weekend.

WKU travels to Florida Atlantic (24-14, 13-3) and South Alabama (16-24, 10-8) in the coming weeks before hosting Middle Tennessee State (23-18, 10-8) to close the year.

Junior catcher Devin Kelly said the Toppers have to take a one-game-at-a-time approach.

“We’re just going to play hard,” Kelly said. “We have a never-die attitude. So game one, we’re going to try to be the best, and we’ll take every game as they come.”

Myers agreed with that sentiment.

“We’re not a team that looks beyond one game,” Myers said. “Where we’re at with our injuries and our depth — we have to play every game as that game. The only thing we can focus on is the series with ULM.”

But Myers didn’t downplay the importance of the upcoming ULM series regarding the implications it can have on the Sun Belt race.

“Huge series because if we can win, that puts us up two games ahead of them and gives us tiebreakers with teams on the bubble,” Myers said.