WKU rebounds from loss, takes series from Troy

(Left to right) Junior Ciara Garcia, senior Amanda Walden and junior Mallorie Sulaski share a laugh during Saturday’s game against Troy. The Lady Toppers won 2-0.

Hasani Grayson

After giving up nine runs in a series opening loss, WKU didn’t allow a run the rest of the series in taking two out of three from Troy over the weekend at the WKU Softball Complex.

WKU (23-15-1, 6-5-1 Sun Belt Conference) won the series finale on Saturday by a score of 2-0 behind a nearly perfect performance by sophomore Emily Rousseau.

Rousseau, who has an ERA of 2.36 and record of 10-7, retired 22 of 23 batters. Her no-hitter was broken up by leadoff single in the seventh inning from Troy’s Nikki Hollett.

“I was really confident in everything I was throwing,” Rousseau said.

She continued by saying she wasn’t worried about getting predictable, even though she had pitched against the Trojans on Friday.

“I felt like we did really well with pitch selection and moving it around a lot,” said Rousseau, who also added that she didn’t shake off the pitches being called by assistant coach Bonnie Bynum.

Sophomore outfielder Kelsie Mattox’s two-run home run in the third was the only run producing at-bat in the game. She said hitting off Troy pitcher, Ashley Rainey, on Friday helped her in Saturday’s game.

“We got to see her the first game, and we kind of knew her patterns and what she was going to throw,” Mattox said.

The offense had a more dominant performance in the second game of the series. The Lady Toppers put up eight runs in five innings on their way to an 8-0 win that was stopped because of the mercy rule.

Mattox, junior catcher Karavin Dew and freshman third baseman Preslie Cruce all hit home runs in the blowout win.

Mattox, who hit three home runs in three games this weekend, said she was just trying to see the ball all the way into the strike zone rather than swing for power.

“I was seeing the ball deeper, and when you see the ball deeper, the ball jumps off your bat,” she said.

Mattox also credited drills in practice that sharpened her skills in going the opposite way.

The blowout win came on the heels of a 9-1 blowout in the weekend opener. Junior starter Mallorie Sulaski went six innings, giving up six runs, while junior Kim Wagner gave up another three runs in one inning of work.

Head Coach Tyra Perry said she didn’t have a whole lot to say to her team after the loss and let them sort out their problems on the field themselves.

“I actually backed out of the huddle and told them, ‘I’m going to back out, and you guys take over,’” Perry said. “‘Not that we’re backing away and don’t believe in you, but it’s time for you to lead the team where you want it to go.’”

The effort in the first game also angered Rousseau, who said, “I was just pissed. I think everyone was. We were so tired of that feeling. I think we’re all just really determined to take it to them.”

The team responded by winning the next two games in the series to move into fifth in the conference standings over sixth-place Troy.

Rousseau said the team is feeling good heading into a matchup on Wednesday against Belmont.     

“We’re playing our game now,” Rousseau said. “If we’re doing that, there is no one that can get in our way.”