WKU softball starts season with five-game weekend

Nick Bratcher

The WKU softball team will start its season in warmer weather this weekend as it heads west for the Gaucho Classic in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The season heats up quickly as the Lady Toppers play their first five games in the three-day tournament, starting today at 10:30 a.m. against host UC Santa Barbara.

Head Coach Tyra Perry said the rapid start to the season is just the nature of the sport.

“We generally start out with tournaments,” Perry said. “If you look at most of the teams across the country, they’re starting out in tournaments as well. It’s a softball thing.”

But not every team across the country has lost seven of nine starters from last year’s squad.

The potential for a rocky start could increase with that many new faces on the field, but senior outfielder Elizabeth Ferrell said she’s not worried about any overreactions or breakdowns.

“We’ve been scrimmaging a lot, and maybe a team will lose, but they’ll bounce back,” Ferrell said. “We’ve been really good about picking ourselves up after something bad will happen. When we have errors in a game, we’re really good about regrouping ourselves.

“We don’t have a lot of back-to-back errors. We don’t have a big snowball effect.”

Perry said she’s also driving the team to stay poised and focused through any difficulties. She set two goals for this weekend to help the team cope with any disappointments.

“I’m hoping to see two things — a positive attitude and maximum effort,” she said. “Those are the only two things we can control anyway.”

Sophomore pitcher Mallorie Sulaski, selected to the Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team this week, said she believes this weekend will test the team.

“It’s going to be good for us to see where we are and what things we need to touch up on,” she said. “But I think we’re going to show up strong and see what our team is all about.”

The Lady Toppers will play two games each against UC Santa Barbara and Seattle this weekend before rounding out the tournament against Wichita State at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Sulaski said the team won’t be shaken even if it does sustain some losses in the learning process.

“There aren’t many dangers,” she said. “We’re pretty confident and I mean, we’re going to have a few losses because we have a pretty long season. I think we’re prepared, and we’re not going to freak out if we get a loss or anything, but we are ready to go out there and win five games.”