Lady Toppers sweep Samford after off-weekend

Hasani Grayson

Instead of using an off-weekend to relax, the Lady Toppers took to the practice field to work on the details of their game.

After beating Tennessee Tech at home on March 13, WKU (21-12, 4-2 Sun Belt Conference) now holds a 3-5 record in its past eight games.

Head Coach Tyra Perry and her team took advantage of a weekend where there were no games scheduled. Perry put the team through drills that she hoped would help the team make adjustments to their attitude and approach.  

“We did a lot of drills that we’ve done before, but we made them a challenge where they had to meet certain standards,” Perry said.

Junior utility player Ciara Garcia said the extra challenge came from having to compete against her teammates in practice.

“There were team drills, but we either had to win them, or we lost, and we’d have to run to the foul pole or something that you don’t want to do,” Garcia said. “There were a bunch of challenges that we had to overcome in practice, and it showed on the field.”

WKU responded well to the weekend of practice, sweeping a doubleheader on Tuesday against Samford (8-25, 2-7).

The Lady Toppers won the first meeting 11-1 in a game that was ended after six innings due to the mercy rule.

The majority of the runs came in the sixth inning when WKU put seven runs on the board with five hits and the help of one Samford error. WKU batted around in the sixth, with sophomore infielder Olivia Watkins batting twice.

In addition to getting an offensive performance where six different players got RBIs, junior pitcher Mallorie Sulaski kept the Lady Bulldog bats quiet for most of the game. In six innings of work, Sulaski gave up just two hits and one run while striking out four.

“Mal has been doing a great job,” Perry said. “We’ve been easing her back into things. She stayed in complete control and made each pitch count.”

Perry said they’re still monitoring how Sulaski’s arm feels and will keep a close eye on how it’s feeling to determine if she will pitch more innings as the season goes on.

The second game yielded a 5-1 victory for WKU, with most of the offense coming from Garcia. The utility player went 3-for-4, hit two home runs and had four RBIs.

Garcia said she wasn’t looking for any pitch in particular and just wanted to stay relaxed while putting a good swing on the ball.

“I was just ready for anything that came down, and anything that looked good to me, I was ready to hit it,” she said.

Garcia said the wins were important not just for their overall record but also for the team’s mindset.

“We’re back to having a lot of fun with each other again,” she said. “The fun brings the wins, and the wins bring the fun, so we just want to keep it going.”

WKU will take on Sun Belt opponent North Texas in a three-game series this Saturday and Sunday.