Early deficit too much for WKU softball against FAU

Cole Claybourn

Head Coach Tyra Perry said the Lady Toppers have made a habit of taking themselves out of games early on.

It was no different on Saturday.

Starting pitcher Mallorie Sulaski loaded the bases twice in the first inning, eventually allowing three runs to score, despite allowing just one hit.

It was enough to propel Florida Atlantic (17-15, 1-0 Sun Belt Conference) to a 3-2 win over WKU (17-12, 0-4 Sun Belt) on Saturday at the WKU Softball Complex.

Sulaski took the loss and moved her record to 7-5.

The loss ended a two-game winning streak for the Lady Toppers.

“We’ve got to learn how to start games,” Perry said. “That’s been the story in our conference losses so far. We’ve let teams get a quick start on us, and we’re playing from behind.

“Other than that, I thought we played a really good game.”

WKU scored two in the bottom of the first, highlighted by a triple from junior right fielder Laura Smith that scored freshman second baseman Kelsie Mattox. Smith then scored on a fielder’s choice to cut the FAU lead to one.

But that was the last of the scoring for both teams.

After a rough first inning, Sulaski responded by retiring FAU in order in every inning but the fourth when FAU shortstop Carly Speerin got her second hit of the day.

Sulaski threw all seven innings and didn’t give up any earned runs while striking out three batters.

“I’m really proud of her for turning things around and refocusing,” Perry said. “We have a really young team. But I have a feeling this team is going to gel – hopefully sooner rather than later.”

But FAU starter Taylor Fawbush was just as good. She also pitched all seven innings and struck five batters.

Still, WKU had several chances to tie or take the lead late in the game, first in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Smith reached on an error by FAU, then freshman Tiffany Gooch stole second. Freshman Megan Johnson then singled to left field but couldn’t drive any runs in. Fawbush got out of the jam and left runners on first and third.

The Lady Toppers had one last chance in the bottom of the seventh with runners on second and third with one out. But Mattox popped out to third which turned into a game-ending double play.

“We needed some things to bounce our way today,” Perry said. “We hit a couple balls at people with runners in scoring position. I think we’ll come out tomorrow ready to go.”

The two teams were originally scheduled to play a doubleheader on Saturday, but rain forced the second game to be moved to Sunday.

The first game will start at noon with the second game scheduled to start at 2 p.m.