Lady Toppers split with Florida International

Nick Bratcher

The Lady Toppers faced Florida International Saturday in a doubleheader to open their fifth Sun Belt Conference three-game series.

WKU (23-21, 4-10 Sun Belt) split the opening day of its series with FIU, losing 7-1 in the first game and winning the second game, 5-4.

Head Coach Tyra Perry said the team lacked desire in the first game.

“I thought we came out flat and did not look like a team on the edge of trying to win games,” she said.

The Lady Toppers did start strong in the first inning against FIU as junior Laura Smith hit an RBI single to plate freshman Kelsie Mattox, but the offensive production halted there.

WKU managed just three hits as FIU grabbed nine hits, plating a runner in five of six innings for the win.

Sophomore Kim Wagner took the loss for the Lady Toppers, yielding four runs on six hits in 3 and 2/3 innings of work.

WKU bounced back in its second game with a big performance from sophomore Karavin Dew, who went 2-for-3 at the plate and notched three RBIs.

Perry said the team’s attitude made the difference between the two games.

“We actually played with desire and passion and got the win,” she said.

The Lady Toppers reached the board first and grabbed a three-run lead in the fifth inning thanks to a two-RBI double from freshman Megan Johnson in the fourth inning and an RBI triple from Dew in the top of the fifth.

FIU responded in the bottom of the fifth inning with a four-run surge, led by shortstop Kayla Burri hitting a three-RBI double.

But WKU regained the lead and clinched the win in the seventh inning on a two-run home run from Dew.

Perry said Dew came through in a moment when the team needed someone to make the big play, something the Lady Toppers have struggled with this season.

“Karavin stepped up big time for us,” she said. “She kept her head and remained strong and came through for us.”

Sophomore Mallorie Sulaski grabbed the close win for the Lady Toppers, giving up four runs on four hits in seven innings pitched.

WKU will play its rubber match against FIU tomorrow at 11 a.m. to close the series.