Lady Tops will try to secure postseason play this weekend

Nick Bratcher

The Lady Toppers enter this weekend experiencing some unwelcome déjà vu.

WKU (26-26, 7-15 Sun Belt Conference) must win one game of a doubleheader against Middle Tennessee on Saturday at 1 and 3 p.m. to earn a berth into the Sun Belt Conference postseason tournament.

Junior Laura Smith said the Lady Toppers will need one final push for consistency to get the win it needs.

 “We’re all just kind of in a whirlwind,” she said. “We aren’t sure what’s going on with the team, or if we’re going to show up that day or not show up that day. We’re trying to figure out what can get us over that one-game hump.”

WKU already played at MTSU on Wednesday with a chance to secure a berth but lost, 3-2.

The Lady Toppers now sit in eighth place with a half-game lead on North Texas, whose conference play has already concluded. The ninth-place team is the only one excluded from the postseason.

But this situation is not unfamiliar to WKU.

Last year, the Lady Toppers’ season came down to the same situation against MTSU, needing a win to advance to the postseason. But the Lady Toppers dropped both games and fell to ninth place in the Sun Belt.

Sophomore outfielder Katrina Metoyer said last year’s disappointment gives this year’s squad a lot of motivation.

“It sucked not going to the tournament — knowing that of all the teams, you’re the one staying back behind,” she said. “It provides a lot of motivation to not be in that situation again.”

Metoyer also said the team’s youth will play into a different outlook on the remaining games.

“I think last year’s seniors were ready to be done,” she said. “It didn’t seem like they wanted it as much. With our young team, we feel like we have something to prove.

“We want to set a tone for the rest of our career here and do well.”

Head Coach Tyra Perry said the team needs to avoid comparisons to last year, though.

“We need to not even think about last year,” she said. “Last year is in the past. Just like someone trying to do better in their life, we’ve just got to move on.

“The biggest thing we can do is to treat it as another game and not make it bigger than it is.”

Smith said the team will need to channel its best efforts this season while not over-extending itself, referencing the team’s win against then-No. 6 Michigan on March 13.

“We have to play within ourselves,” she said. “A lot of times we try to win the game in one swing, which is playing out of our shoes. We have to play the ball we know how to play and not try to be the superheroes of the day.”

Perry said the result is the players’ responsibility now, having taught the team all she can.

“Ultimately, it’s up to them,” she said. “Ultimately, they’ve got to play.”