Lady Tops get signature win, experience at Louisville Classic

Nick Bratcher

The Lady Toppers rolled into Louisville this weekend to test themselves against some stiff competition.

WKU (14-8) struggled with the heightened talent level Saturday, losing to No. 6 Michigan, 7-1, and Louisville, 3-2, in its first day of action at the Louisville Classic.

The Lady Toppers broke through on Sunday and notched a 3-2 win against Michigan — handing the Wolverines their first loss of the season — but failed to translate that success into their second game against Louisville and lost, 6-2.

The win against Michigan marked WKU’s first victory against a team with a winning record this season.

Head Coach Tyra Perry said losing to the tougher teams would benefit WKU in the long run.

“You have to test your team and play the best in order to see exactly where you are,” she said. “Teams like this tend to exploit your weaknesses, and I think it’s good so we know what to work on this week going into conference play.”

WKU had won 10 of its last 11 games entering the weekend, but all of them came against opponents with losing records.

Despite dropping three of four games in Louisville, the Lady Toppers remain optimistic.

Junior Amanda Walden, who hit the game-winning RBI single Sunday to give WKU the edge against Michigan, said the team had something to learn from its losses.

“I think these games were good because it was good to play two good teams,” she said. “We’re going to learn from our losses and come out and play WKU softball like we did against Michigan.”

WKU struggled in the early innings defensively throughout the weekend, giving up a collective 14 runs in the first two innings of the three losses.

Sophomore Ciara Garcia said the early-inning lapses crippled the team’s chances.

“Both days we struggled at the beginning, and that’s what made it harder for us to keep it going and come back,” she said. “We fought and held them after the first two innings, and that makes it tough to swallow.”

Walden said timely hitting has become a bit of a theme as well, but she’s not dwelling on the shortcomings right now.

“I think we just had our moments here and there where something didn’t go our way, and we could’ve gotten a big hit, but that will come,” she said. “I’m not too worried about it.”

Perry said toppling Michigan was a bright spot and will show the team what it’s capable of moving forward.

“It was an exciting game,” she said. “To come out and get a win from them in the way that we did— I thought we played a really good game to get that win — was outstanding.

“It shows our players that we have the ability to play with anyone at any time, and if we show up and do the things that we teach every day, then we have a shot to beat teams like Michigan.”

The Lady Toppers’ next game is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday at Tennessee State.