WKU softball wins two at home in ULM doubleheader

Nick Bratcher

The Lady Toppers had never lost at home against Louisiana-Monroe entering Friday’s doubleheader at the WKU Softball Complex.

That streak continued as WKU (25-22, 6-11 Sun Belt Conference) defeated ULM in the first game, 6-5, and again in the second game, 6-2, thanks to a commanding performance from freshman pitcher Brittanie Albright.

Coming into the game, Albright had pitched 26 innings and given up 23 runs, earning a record of 1-1 in her three previous starts.

But Friday spelled a fresh start for Albright as she grabbed her first-conference win, yielding one earned run on six hits in her first seven-inning complete game.

Albright said she was confident in taking the mound and looks forward to doing well in the future as well.

“It was awesome,” she said. “That’s what I wanted to do. I came out to do this- being an intimidating factor.”

Head Coach Tyra Perry said the team will continue to “throw who’s winning” when asked if Albright will continue to be WKU’s No. 2 starter.

The wins came at a crucial time for the Lady Toppers, who are clinging to the eighth spot in the Sun Belt Conference as they try to put distance between themselves and ninth-place North Texas.

Sophomore Karavin Dew said the team made a statement with the back-to-back wins that they want to make it to the Sun Belt’s eight-team postseason tournament.

“Every game right now is important, and taking two like that shows we have the drive to continue and finish,” she said. “It’s a new season, and we left it all on the field.”

ULM struck quickly in the first game, plating two runners in the first inning on a wild throw from Dew and an RBI single from right fielder Melissa Rivera.

A WKU error in the top of the second inning from sophomore center fielder Katrina Metoyer cost the Lady Toppers two more runs, giving ULM an early 4-0 lead.

Junior Amanda Walden gave WKU some support in the bottom of the inning, plating Dew on an RBI groundout and cutting the Warhawk lead to 4-1.

Then the Lady Toppers exploded in the third inning, scoring four runners on RBI singles from sophomore left fielder Ciara Garcia, Dew and freshman shortstop Amanda Thomas, putting WKU ahead, 5-4.

Perry said the third inning was crucial for the Lady Toppers.

“It kept the team confident,” she said. “A lot of our games are going to be high scoring, so we’re going to have to live with it.”

Sophomore pitcher Mallorie Sulaski added some insurance in the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run over the right-field fence to put the Lady Toppers up, 6-4.

ULM threatened in the top of the seventh with a home run from center fielder Brianna Love, the preseason Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, but came up short as WKU held on to grab the win, 6-5, in the first game.

Sulaski (11-7) recorded the win for the Lady Toppers, allowing two earned runs on six hits in seven innings of work.

WKU came out strong in the second game, reaching the board in the second inning on RBI singles from Walden and Garcia and a two-RBI double from Metoyer to put the Lady Toppers ahead, 4-0.

ULM scored on an error from Thomas in the fifth inning and a solo home run from catcher Roxane Cassel to shrink WKU’s lead, 4-2.

But the Lady Toppers added insurance in the sixth to put the game out of reach, with Dew scoring on a ULM throwing error and Sulaski hitting an RBI single to give WKU the win, 6-2.

Perry said the team’s newly found pitching tandem of Albright and Sulaski means a stronger ball club through the rest of the season. WKU’s other regular pitcher is sophomore Kim Wagner.

“I thought we played extremely well, and a lot of that stemmed from our pitching,” she said. “If we continue to do those things then we’re going to be a good team.”

The Lady Toppers finish their home series with ULM at noon Saturday.