Pitching carries WKU in series win over ULM

Hasani Grayson

Though they narrowly missed out on getting the series sweep, Lady Topper pitching kept them in the games throughout the weekend.

WKU (27-18-1, 9-8-1 Sun Belt Conference) won both games of Saturday’s doubleheader against Louisiana-Monroe (21-21, 6-12) by finals of 4-1 but lost the pitcher’s duel in the series finale against the Warhawks 1-0.

Head Coach Tyra Perry said after the way the first two games of the series went, she wasn’t expecting such low scoring games on Sunday.

“We scored a lot of runs off of their pitcher yesterday, so I thought we would do the same today,” she said. “But we didn’t get timely hits.”

The starter on Sunday for ULM was Haylie Wilson, who has an 3.16 ERA and has allowed 141 hits in 119 2/3 innings pitched this season. WKU had scored three runs off of her in the series opener.

Wilson got the start again for ULM on Sunday and surrendered five hits and two walks in her shutout victory against the Lady Toppers.

Perry said Wilson didn’t do anything too special to keep WKU off the scoreboard in the series finale.

“She didn’t do much. We just didn’t make adjustments,” she said. “We needed to hit the ball on the ground and we hit too many in the air.”

Sophomore pitcher Emily Rousseau was the winning pitcher in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader but lost on Sunday.

Rousseau said she was pleased with how she pitched this weekend and said that she’s feeling closer to harnessing her full capabilities every time she gets in the circle.

“It’s getting better every day,” she said. “I don’t know if I can give you a percentage, but every day things start working a little better and my approach to every at bat gets a little more confident.”

Rousseau’s confidence showed in her statistics this weekend. She surrendered one run in each game and gave up 11 hits in 13 innings pitched. Rousseau has a record of 12-10 and an ERA of 2.43 while leading the team in strikeouts with 123.

Rousseau’s strong outings served as bookends for junior pitcher Kim Wagner’s efforts in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. WKU got the 4-1 win behind Wagner’s complete game effort.

Freshman infielder Preslie Cruce drove in the first two runs of the day for WKU with two run home runs in the fourth inning.

Cruce said she hasn’t made any major changes to her swing of late and credited her recent success to her work in practice.

She also said that it’s important for her not to get down on herself if she has trouble at the plate.

“Even if I’m in a slump, I keep my head high, and I can’t wait for the next at-bat to see the middle of the ball,” she said.

Wagner got two more runs of support when senior outfielder Laura Smith and Cruce both scored on fielding and throwing errors made by ULM to give WKU the 4-1 lead. Wagner, who only allowed one run in the second, kept the Warhawks off the board and earned her 12th win of the season.

Rousseau said WKU was disappointed with only taking two out of three games from ULM but said the team is looking forward to the home games this week. WKU will take on Middle Tennessee Tuesday in the first game of a seven-game home stand.

“We’re excited for this next weekend,” she said “We’re going to be at home, so it’s going to be a lot more intense and a lot more fun.”