Lady Tops trying to finish strong after weekend sweep

Senior outfielder Brittney Perry laughs with teammates in the outfield after WKU’s 7-6 victory against Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday afternoon. The Lady Toppers swept the weekend series against ULM.

Nick Bratcher

A Post-it note just doesn’t cut it for WKU.

Instead, when the Lady Toppers (26-22, 7-11 Sun Belt Conference) need to remember the success they had this weekend sweeping Louisiana-Monroe in a three-game series, they’ll look in their journals.

Sophomore outfielder Ciara Garcia said the team started journaling to serve as extra motivation.

“We have journals, and we write down how we feel — how great this success is,” she said. “We just remember that feeling before we go practice. We get it in our heads and remember how it felt and go.”

WKU defeated ULM in both games of a doubleheader Friday, winning the first game, 6-5, and the second game, 6-2.

The Lady Toppers completed the sweep in the series finale Saturday, 7-6.

Freshman pitcher Brittanie Albright (3-1) stepped up to claim a starting role in two games of the series and grabbed the win on both occasions, pitching a combined nine innings and yielding four earned runs on 10 hits.

WKU’s No. 1 starting pitcher, sophomore Mallorie Sulaski (11-7), earned a win and a save on the weekend, yielding four earned runs on eight hits in 12 innings of work.

Head Coach Tyra Perry said the series meant a lot for both the team’s confidence and its standing in the Sun Belt Conference.

“I think it’s big for the team to know they can sweep, and that they can compete,” she said. “If we had another bad weekend, it would have been very, very difficult for us to make it into the tournament —  not impossible, but extremely difficult.”

WKU climbed to seventh place in the Sun Belt with the wins after entering this weekend’s action in ninth, facing potential exclusion from the postseason tournament because it includes just the top eight teams.

Freshman second baseman Kelsie Mattox said the team’s main concern remains earning a berth in the postseason tournament, regardless of position.

“Right now we’re not even worried about where we fall at the end of the year,” she said. “We just want to be there so we have a chance to win it.”

Mattox also said the team focused on that goal through a series of meetings last week which paid dividends this weekend.

“We called last week ‘soul searching,’” she said. “We decided to dig deep within ourselves and figure out what the issues are — if it’s ourselves or the team or both. We had a couple sessions of mental training and got a new outlook.”

That new outlook meant viewing the remaining games as a brand new season, Mattox said.

Perry said the team will need to remember that “soul search” that brought success.

“Mainly we’re going to focus on what got us our 3-0 ‘start’ to our ‘new season,’” she said. “We got a lot tougher mentally.”

Mattox said she knows what she’ll be writing in her journal to keep that focus and continue to push forward.

“Every game is just as important, so we can’t look to the past,” she said. “We’re just going to think of what we can do from here on out.”

WKU is next in action Wednesday on the road in a doubleheader against Murray State at 5 p.m and 7 p.m.