SOFTBALL: Lady Tops back at .500

Amber North

The softball team entered the Louisville doubleheader with a 18-17 record, the first time the team has surpassed the .500 mark.

Now, they are back at .500, losing to the Cardinals at Louisville 3-2.

In the bottom of the first inning, freshman shortstop Bailey Rolfs threw an error that resulted in two runs by junior outfielder Shannon Nord and freshman infielder Lacey Wood.

The Hilltoppers retaliated when sophomore Shelly Floyd drove in junior Riley Garcia and sophomore Renita Pennington to the home plate, tying the game 2-2.

That would change when Nord hit an RBI triple in the seventh inning with freshman Michelle Vasquez scoring the game-winning run.

Junior co-captain Allison Silver went in 6.1 innings, having a 9-9 record on the season.

The second game of the doubleheader was cancelled due to harsh weather conditions.

The Hilltoppers have overcome a great number of injuries throughout the season, especially with the loss of senior outfielder Jessie Richardson earlier into the season due to a severed tendon in her hand.

Richardson, who has played only five games this season with a .312 batting average, will be redshirting.

“Our senior leadership was a downfall with Jessie being hurt, and it’s been difficult for her because she’s not on the field,” head coach Leslie Phelan said.

Players from previous injuries are now edging their way back into the lineup. Rolfs came back two weeks ago from a strained MCL in her knee. Freshman pitcher and infielder Natasha Sevco was out for two weks due to a blood clot.

Floyd returned to the lineup on April 2 in their doubleheader sweep against Evansville and hit a home run. She has a .444 batting average and leads the team with seven home runs and 31 RBI, four away from the school record at 35.

“Floyd has been outstanding and is certainly having a great year,” Phelan said.

Filling the void for Richardson has been sophomore outfielder Pennington, who is hitting .402.

Despite the injuries, Phelan has positive thoughts about her team.

“It was a struggle with different lineups, but I’m very optimistic on what we’ll accomplish,” she said.

The Hilltoppers will return home on Thursday in their doubleheader against Tennessee State at 5 p.m.

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