Western’s offense waited to come to life until the ninth inning in two of the team’s four games against Middle Tennessee State over the weekend.
The problem: The games ended in six innings.
The Lady Topper softball team dropped three of the four games and were out-hit 25-12 by the Lady Raiders in two of the losses. The losses bring Western to 23-14 for the year and 1-3 in the Sun Belt Conference.
Coach Leslie Phelan’s team stayed tough after being swept twice Friday and being walloped in the first game on Saturday. Western won the last game of the weekend in almost the same fashion it lost the first one: by the ball sailing over the fence.
“I’m happy we didn’t give up,” Phelan said. “But we can’t wait until the ninth inning. Most games don’t have nine innings.”
With two on base, one out and the game tied at one in the ninth, senior pitcher Allison Silver stepped to the plate. Silver was on the other side of this situation during Friday’s game, when she gave up two home runs in the ninth to give the Lady Raiders the lead and an eventual victory.
But Silver remembered to return the favor.
Facing a 2-2 count, Silver sent the ball over the left field wall. The three-run homer gave Western a 4-1 win.
“I’m assuming that some of her motivation was she threw a lot of innings this weekend and she wanted the game over,” Phelan said. “She was in a perfect position to take it in her own hands and end the game.”
The defense also had some key plays in the win Saturday.
After having a rough day Friday – committing two errors – sophomore shortstop Baily Rolfs wanted to have a better Saturday.
“Obviously, I don’t want to carry today’s game into tomorrow,” Rolfs said on Friday. “And if I do that I think it will only come out worse for me.”
Rolfs’ short memory came in handy.
Defense was instrumental in the win as Rolfs and junior center fielder Renita Pennington each had a highlight-reel play that saved a run in the fifth and seventh, respectively.
In the other extra-inning game Friday, both teams had trouble getting any offense. The teams went into the ninth innings scoreless, but MTSU got things going in the top of the inning.
Silver had pitched eight scoreless innings before Lady Raider second baseman Cortney Mitchell started an offensive rally that didn’t stop until MTSU had four hits and two homeruns.
Western had a hard time recovering after the rally, but managed to give a fighting charge that came up short and resulted in a 4-3 defeat.
The Hilltoppers lost the second game on Friday 5-2 and the first game on Saturday 5-3.
The Hilltoppers return to action at 4 p.m. Wednesday when they host a doubleheader against Kentucky.
Reach Wes Watt at [email protected]