Lady Tops softball opens home schedule with EKU

Nick Bratcher

The Lady Toppers will try to get going sooner rather than later this week after struggling in the early innings of their opening weekend.

WKU (3-2) plays its home opener Wednesday at the WKU Softball Complex against Eastern Kentucky in a doubleheader at 1 p.m.

When asked what would be the key to victory against EKU, both Head Coach Tyra Perry and sophomore infielder Karavin Dew said the Lady Toppers have to “play their game.”

But what does that look like?

Dew described it as success at the plate, in the field and early in the game.

“When we play our game, we’re prepared and start strong with hits everywhere and great defense,” she said. “No one has seen it this year yet, but they will.”

WKU struggled early in games at the Gaucho Classic two weekends ago, failing to score in the first three innings in each of its losses.

Freshman Amanda Thomas said the kind of effort the Lady Toppers want starts before the first pitch is thrown.

“We’re a young team, so we have to overcome that slow start,” she said. “We have to get our minds mentally prepared before the game and get pumped up and stay focused.

“We’ve been working on coming out strong instead of waiting until the later innings to start hitting and making plays.”

Righting the aggression ship isn’t going to be an easy task with such a young team. In their last game, the Lady Toppers started just two upperclassmen.

Perry said the unknown of the early innings mixed with the team’s youth has definitely presented a problem early this season.

“They get nervous pretty quickly,” she said. “The young players just haven’t experienced that much yet, so the unknown just makes them a little more jittery than a veteran team.”

But being a young squad can have its advantages as well.

Although the Lady Toppers were projected eighth out of nine Sun Belt Conference teams preseason, Thomas said she likes that teams overlook them because it adds an element of surprise.

“We have heard that people don’t really know about us, and they’re underestimating us a lot,” she said. “We’re trying to take that as an advantage and surprise them a little bit.”

Perry said she embraces the team’s youthful enthusiasm and desire to win.

“They’re excited about everything — even warming up — and have a pure sense of wanting to win,” she said. “They’re just out there playing ball.”

Perry also said the team is making progress. She said she noticed the team starting to settle down during the Gaucho Classic and hopes that evolution will continue Wednesday.

“At the end of the tournament we were getting the clutch hits to score runners in scoring position, even in the late innings,” she said. “We just have to continue that.”