Lady Toppers in battle for Sun Belt positioning

Nick Bratcher

The Lady Toppers have a race to the finish following a series loss to Florida International this weekend.

WKU (23-22, 4-11 Sun Belt Conference) split the first day of action Saturday, losing to FIU, 7-1, in the first game and winning the second game, 5-4.

But the Lady Toppers came up short of a winning weekend on Sunday and fell to FIU, 13-2, in the final game of the three-game series.

Head Coach Tyra Perry said she was disappointed with grabbing just one win from the weekend, but the win still provides significance in the team’s quest for the postseason.

“We’ve got to get as many wins as possible,” she said. “One win may not have been our goal, but in the end, that one win could be what puts us in front.”

WKU currently resides in ninth place in the Sun Belt. The Lady Toppers are 1 and 1/2 games behind  North Texas and Middle Tennessee after the weekend’s losses, although they’ve played three less games than each team.

The ninth-place team from the Sun Belt’s regular season play is excluded from the Sun Belt tournament. WKU was the team left out in 2010.

Freshman shortstop Amanda Thomas said she definitely feels like the team is under pressure.

“I feel like there’s been pressure there the whole season, but we’ve been telling ourselves not to let that pressure effect how we play,” she said. “We can’t let it make us scared or timid. We have to be fearless every single game.”

Sophomore Karavin Dew played a key role in WKU’s crucial win Saturday by hitting a game-winning home run for WKU in the seventh inning.

She said she made an effort to step up where the team has struggled in crucial points all season.

“I was just trying to leave it all on the field and give everything I had for the team,” Dew said. “If it works out, it’s great. If not, then at least I gave it my best.”

Dew also said she hoped the team took notice as they enter a crucial point in the season.

“If they see that I’m giving everything I have, then hopefully that’ll make them want to leave everything they have out there too,” she said.

The Lady Toppers have nine conference games left over the next three weeks to move out of that ninth-place spot.

Perry said the team should be feeling the pressure after not playing to its full potential.

“We’ve done this to ourselves,” she said. “We have to play with heart in every out and every inning.”

Dew said she remembers last year’s Lady Topper ninth-place finish all too well, and she’d like to avoid a repeat this season.

“We definitely know we need to step it up if we’re going to make it,” she said. “We’d like the freshmen to not have to experience that at all.”