Lady Tops searching for consistency in final week of regular season

Zach Greenwell

It’s been an up-and-down season for the Lady Toppers.

WKU (26-25, 7-14 Sun Belt Conference) won eight games in a row at one point this season, but it has also been swept in three conference series.

The Lady Toppers have dropped games to teams with losing records, and they’ve also claimed a win over then-No. 6 Michigan.

But Head Coach Tyra Perry said it’s now time for them to consistently be the team that comes out on the winning side.

“We’ve been talking all year about consistency,” Perry said. “We know we can play with anybody, but we talk all the time about just being consistent at this point.”

After just notching their first Sun Belt series sweep of the season against Louisiana-Monroe, the Lady Toppers were swept at No. 23 Louisiana-Lafayette last weekend.

WKU took the top team in the league to the brink in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader before falling 3-2.

The Lady Toppers got seven strong innings from sophomore pitcher Mallorie Sulaski and had a chance to take the lead in the seventh, but they couldn’t get any runs across.

WKU was stymied by four errors in the game, and the Ragin’ Cajuns went on to win in walk-off fashion.

“It was frustrating, but it definitely was a good sign that we’re capable of beating them,” Sulaski said. “We had it. I guess it wasn’t that much of a downer because it showed us that we could win the next two games.”

Lafayette didn’t allow for any more close calls during the weekend, though, beating WKU 10-2 in Saturday’s second game and 10-0 in Sunday’s finale.

“We came out and were being aggressive, but we had a few too many errors that ended up costing us in the first one,” sophomore catcher Karavin Dew said. “In the second and third games, we didn’t really hit too well, and we didn’t have what it took defensively.”

But Dew said the fact that the Lady Toppers didn’t have what it took last weekend doesn’t mean they don’t have the ability.

“We just have to come out and do it,” she said. “Playing that way for four games in a row was really nice, and we just have to bring that back this weekend coming up.”

WKU will play its final Sun Belt series of the season against Middle Tennessee this week.

The first game of the three-game series will be played at MTSU at 6 p.m. Wednesday, a makeup from earlier in the year.

The Lady Toppers will then head for a non-conference doubleheader at Murray State on Thursday before returning home for two more games against MTSU on Saturday.

“We need to make sure we’re focused on every pitch, every inning for those three games,” Sulaski said. “We have to make sure we get in there and do our job.”

Both MTSU and WKU are currently 7-14 in the Sun Belt standings, tied for seventh place. If a tiebreaker was put in place today, the Lady Toppers would be the No. 8 team.

Only the ninth team in the conference standings, which is currently North Texas, is excluded from the Sun Belt tournament.

But a sweep at the hands of MTSU would leave WKU out of the postseason, and Perry said the Lady Toppers must have a survival mentality this week.

“It’s obviously going to be a very important series,” she said. “It’s my understanding that we need one win to secure a spot in the tournament, but three wins would help improve our standings. We just have to come out like the team we’ve shown we can be.”