Wagner key in hopes for conference title

Hasani Grayson

WKU has gotten off to a 6-3 start this season, the team’s best start since a 13-3 start in 2009.

The Lady Topper offense can take much of the credit for that, putting up 50 runs through nine games.

But junior pitcher Kim Wagner has been just as impressive. 

Wagner (3-1) has kept hitters off balance early this season, posting an ERA of 2.13 to go along with 28 strikeouts. 

She said she’s not always looking for swinging strikes when she’s pitching, despite her team-high strikeout total.

“Early in the count I’m looking to make the ball move and get them to swing at something and get them to ground out or fly out,” Wagner said. “But later on in the count when I get two strikes on a batter, I try to move the ball and make them swing and miss.” 

Before deciding to focus more of her efforts on softball, Wagner also played basketball in middle and high school. 

The Biloxi, Miss., native said she stopped playing basketball as a high school sophomore because she’s “not very tall.”

Though she may not have had the size to play basketball, Head Coach Tyra Perry said she’s happy with the big numbers the 5-foot-6 Wagner has put up this season. 

Perry said the difference for Wagner between this season and last year, when she went 11-11, is her mindset during games. 

“I think she’s just relaxed,” Perry said of Wagner. “Maybe she used to get a little bit tight but this year she’s loose and her ball is really moving… and she’s doing a good job of keeping batters off balance.”

Wagner has been playing softball since she was 5 and started pitching when she was 12, but said she didn’t really focus on pitching until her senior year of high school.

She said she tried things behind the plate before settling in as a pitcher. 

“I actually didn’t decide to pitch until after I tried to catch,” Wagner said. “It was an epic fail.” 

Thankfully for Perry and the Toppers, Wagner has settled into her pitching role.

This weekend, most WKU fans will have their first chance of the year to watch Wagner and the Lady Toppers as they host the Holiday Inn University Plaza Hilltopper Spring Complex at the WKU Softball Complex. WKU’s first game will be against Murray State at 3 p.m. on Friday.

 “We’re excited to show our fans what we’ve been doing and what we’re going to continue to do,” Wagner said.