Lady Toppers go 5-0 at Ole Miss tourney

Nick Bratcher

The Lady Toppers said they hoped last Wednesday’s back-to-back, home-opening losses to Eastern Kentucky would be a “wake up call.”

It must have been, because they were up and rolling last weekend in Oxford, Miss. 

WKU (8-4) went 5-0 at the Red and Blue Classic at Ole Miss, first reeling off wins against Austin Peay, 5-0, and Southeast Missouri State, 8-5, on Friday. The first day of action included three Lady Topper home runs.

WKU turned around Saturday and scratched out a 4-3 win over Louisiana Tech in 10 innings and defeated Ole Miss, 9-3, tallying 13 runs off 22 hits during the day.

WKU capped off the weekend with a second win over Louisiana Tech — an 8-6 victory — on Sunday.

Junior Amanda Walden led the weekend’s effort, batting a .438 average with seven hits, four runs and five RBIs over the five-game span.

She downplayed her own performance and said the team’s heart made all the difference.

“Personally, I just hit better because I kept my eye on the ball more,” she said. “I think the key was our heart. In every game, no matter whether we were up or down, I had no doubt we were going to pull through and win it in the end.

“We were going to stick together and push through anything they could throw at us.”

Head Coach Tyra Perry said the youthful team finally relaxed and settled into what it can do.

“Basically we played our usual game, except this time we had different people step up and get the big hits we needed,” she said. “Not only did we get runners on — we got them in. We’ve been focusing on relaxation in our practices, and I think a lot of our players were able to do that and got a good result.”

Sophomore pitcher Mallorie Sulaski (3-1) picked up two wins on the trip, defeating Austin Peay on Friday and Louisiana Tech on Saturday.

She said the team’s quick rebound showed just how much fight the Lady Toppers have this season.

 “This was really great for our team,” Sulaski said. “Losing those games to Eastern were some pretty big losses when we know we should have won, so it was really good to bounce back and show what our team is made of.”

Walden said the team’s short memory and ability to forget last Wednesday’s shortcomings against EKU will be a useful tool to move forward.

“We all know that we played really well this weekend, but we don’t want another day like the one we had against Eastern,” she said. “So, we’re going to work just as hard as we have been to keep going and winning.

“You want to get better every game, and if you’re not getting better, then you’re getting worse.”

Perry said this weekend’s small taste of success may produce even greater results in the long run.

The Lady Toppers play five more games this weekend at the 2011 Buzz Classic, which takes place at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

“The feeling of playing well as a team — getting positive results from your hard work — will help us try and maintain that feeling,” Perry said. “Just experiencing something like this will keep us on the right track.

“It’s no secret that winning is contagious.”