SOFTBALL: Western travels to U of L Saturday

Wes Watt

After the last out was made and the dust on the infield settled, the Lady Topper softball team found itself in unfamiliar territory.

It got off to a great and consistent start.

Coach Leslie Phelan and company are riding their perfect 6-0 record to the University of Louisville for its Red and Black Tournament which begins Saturday.

Western kicks off the tournament against No. 19 Iowa at 1 p.m. Phelan said she couldn’t think of a better way to enter the game against the Hawkeyes than riding a six game winning streak.

Phelan said her team was tested last weekend because it faced many different situations. There were times when the team had played with the lead and other times it had to play from behind. Facing so many situations this early in the season will help the Lady Toppers be more competitive, she said.

“We have our hands full with them,” Phelan said. “It’s important to establish confidence right away and that’s something we haven’t done consistently in the beginning of the year.”

Western has another weapon to add to the team’s arsenal. Fifth-year senior outfielder Jessie Richardson stayed healthy through the first weekend of the season, after tearing a ligament during last year’s opening tournament.

The decision for her to come back was not an easy one. She had the choice of graduating or coming back to the team to finish her fourth year of eligibility.

Phelan said it may have been fate that caused her injury and maybe the incident that looked disastrous last season could turn into a great situation this year.

Richardson was named Sun Belt Conference Hitter of the Week after hitting .350, knocking out two home runs and bringing in seven RBI.

“It was a decision for her too, it was not a no-brainer,” Phelan said. “Sometimes things happen for a reason and we are certainly off to a better start and have the potential to have a better year and maybe it was just in the cards for her to enjoy that.”

Pitching might be the bazooka of the arsenal. Returning all-star pitcher senior Allison Silver and sophomore Adrienne Lathrop, both picked up two wins last weekend helping their team to hold the other teams to only 11 runs in their six game sweep.

Silver said the preseason jitters are gone, and that with her arm feeling healthy she thinks the Lady Toppers will continue their early season momuntum.

After opening against Iowa, Western will face Louisville at 3 p.m. Then on Sunday, Western will open with Toledo at 10 a.m. and depending upon on Western’s performance, the team will play in a game at either 2 p.m. or 4 p.m.

Reach Wes Watt at [email protected]