Losses in home opener a ‘wake-up call’ for Lady Tops

Sophomore utility infielder Ciara Garcia makes contact during the second game of the Lady Toppers’ doubleheader against Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday afternoon. The Toppers lost both games.

Nick Bratcher

Growth became a key theme for the Lady Toppers this week as they continue their search for confidence and maturity.

WKU (3-4) dropped both games of its home-opening doubleheader against Eastern Kentucky Wednesday by scores of 1-0 and 9-2.

The Lady Toppers’ ongoing struggle to assert themselves early in games reared its ugly head yet again against EKU, as they left a combined 17 runners on base in their losses.

Head Coach Tyra Perry said the team’s continued lack of aggression spurred the losses.

“We had our opportunities,” she said. “There were several innings where we had runners on base or in scoring position and didn’t quite get the job done.”

Sophomore pitcher Kim Wagner called the effort frustrating, but said the team should grow from it. She yielded just one run on the mound in WKU’s opening loss.

“It was frustrating because we should beat EKU, but it was kind of a wake-up call for us,” Wagner said. “I think if we respond to it in the right way, it could work out for the best for us.”

That growth will need to come quickly as the Lady Toppers travel to Oxford, Miss., this weekend to face some stiff competition in the Red and Blue Classic.

Perry said the team needs to grow up and deal with the pressure of timely hitting if it wants to avoid similar results this weekend.

“I think sometimes we get tense or we try not to lose in those types of situations, and that is typical of a young team,” she said on Wednesday. “But if we don’t want to have that result we had today, then we’re going to have to grow up really fast and want the bat.

“We have to want to be the person at the plate in pressure situations.”

WKU’s plays its first game this weekend at 9 a.m. Friday against Austin Peay, then turns around to play Southeast Missouri State at 7 p.m.

The Lady Toppers will play five total games in three days.

Perry said the team wouldn’t be dwelling on Wednesday’s losses, but instead the players will try to clear their minds.

“We’re leaving today here, not taking it on the bus with us to Oxford,” she said. “We have to find a way to be just 20 people playing ball, not worried about anything or hesitant — just being the types of players we’re capable of being.”

Growing up isn’t an easy process, but the team continues to show signs of leadership from within.

Junior infielder Amanda Walden, whose two-run home run gave the Lady Toppers their only scoring Wednesday, said the losses didn’t change any of her weekend expectations.

“I’m expecting to win this weekend, so I’m hoping the team isn’t expecting anything less either,” she said.  “I hope we go out and are aggressive. We’re not going to leave runners in scoring position, and we’re going to execute better.”