WKU opens home stand with loss to MTSU

Sophomore infielder Olivia Watkins slides for the ball trying to get a Middle Tennessee State runner out at second base. WKU lost 8-4 to MTSU Wednesday at the WKU Softball Complex.

Hasani Grasyon

WKU didn’t start its seven game home stand the way it wanted, losing to Sun Belt Conference rival Middle Tennessee State 8-4 on Tuesday at the WKU Softball Complex.

The Lady Toppers got off to a fast start offensively but their hot bats were cooled off after the Blue Raiders made a pitching change in the second inning. Senior outfielder Laura Smith said the pitching change was a turning point in the game.

“That first pitcher was the perfect speed for us, that’s the speed you’re looking for as a hitter,” she said. “The second pitcher was slower and after we felt good against that first pitcher it’s an adjustment.”

Before the pitching change, Smith got the scoring started in the bottom of the second with her first home run of the season. The lead from the two-run shot would be increased later in the inning when an MTSU error allowed another run to score.

Sophomore pitcher Emily Rousseau kept that 3-0 lead intact in the third inning but saw it fall apart in the fourth when she gave up two two-run home runs. MTSU added another run when a steal attempt at second base drew a throw from junior catcher Karavin Dew, allowing the runner at third to come home.

Junior Mallorie Sulaski took over in the fifth inning and ran into some trouble of her own. Sulaski hit the first batter of the inning and surrendered three hits on her way to giving up two more runs.

Sulaski was able to limit most of the damage, giving up just one more run in the seventh, but WKU’s offense was kept in check for the most part. A sac fly by sophomore infielder Amanda Thomas that scored a single run in the fifth is all the Lady Toppers would get after the second inning.

WKU couldn’t match MTSU’s offensive output though the Lady Toppers had their share of base runners. Two WKU players reached base with errors and batters were able to get 10 hits off MTSU pitching.

In addition to the slower speed of pitches after the second inning, Smith also said the team ran into a bit of bad luck.

“We had some great hits,” she said. “Katrina (Metoyer) hit one to left right at (the left fielder).”

Despite the bad luck, Smith said adjustments from the batters should have been made earlier in the game.

Head Coach Tyra Perry was less focused on what her hitters did and pointed to the eight runs surrendered.

“We give up runs too fast,” she said. Perry also said she wanted to see more effort out of her team.

“This part of the season is about guts and heart and we’ve got to get more of that,” she said. “You always think you can do more as a coach but when it comes to guts and heart that’s each individual person.”

Smith said energy level following the loss was pretty low but went on to say that they will have to refocus on the remaining games of the home stand.

“You’ve got to take it, get feedback from it, you’ve got to think about it tonight and go to bed, wake up the next morning and start all over,” she said.