Sullivan’s walk-off, Nunn’s complete game powers WKU’s doubleheader sweep of FAU

Freshman+Kennedy+Sullivan+throws+a+pitch+during+WKU%E2%80%99s+win+5+to+3+over+WIU+in+Bowling+Green+on+Saturday%2C+Feb.+16%2C+2019.

Ivy Ceballo

Freshman Kennedy Sullivan throws a pitch during WKU’s win 5 to 3 over WIU in Bowling Green on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019.

Jake Moore, Sports Editort

WKU Softball (25-12), (8-6, C-USA) took both games from Florida Atlantic University (12-33), (6-12, C-USA) in a sunny Friday afternoon home doubleheader on senior weekend.

The pair of games kicked off the Hilltoppers’ final regular-season series. WKU currently sits in third place in the Conference USA East Division ahead of the Conference USA Softball Championship on May 12-15 that will be held in Bowling Green.

Game 1: WKU 4, FAU 3

Redshirt junior Shelby Nunn made her seventh start of the year in the first game of the doubleheader. The right hander stepped into the circle holding a 2.38 ERA over 67.2 innings along with 41 strikeouts on the season. Nunn pitched a complete seven-inning game, allowing just three runs and matching her season-high of six strikeouts in her 10th win of the year.

FAU took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning due to an RBI single that scored a runner from third base. Redshirt junior catcher Kendall Smith picked off a base runner at first to end the frame.

Redshirt sophomore Kennedy Sullivan hit a two-out single in the bottom of the first to drive in redshirt senior Paige Carter from first base. Carter made it home to tie the game 1-1 due to a pair of FAU errors on the play.

Smith caught her second base runner of the game by gunning down a runner at second base in the top of the second inning to bring her season total to 10 pickoffs. The Hilltoppers would be retired in order in the bottom of the frame.

Nunn picked up a pair of strikeouts in the top of the third inning to bring her total to four. Paige Carter hit her 16th double of the season in the bottom of the frame, redshirt sophomore Jordan Ridge hit a double immediately after to score Carter, and redshirt sophomore Kennedy Sullivan hit WKU’s third double in a row to drive in Ridge. The Hilltoppers entered the fourth inning holding a 3-1 lead thanks to the barrage.

Nunn induced three ground-outs in a row in the top of the fourth to send FAU’s offense back to the dugout. Freshman Kennedy Foote singled to lead off the bottom of the frame but ended up stranded at second base. 

The Owls tied the game 3-3 in the top of the fifth inning after a leadoff double and one-out walk put FAU runners at first and third base and a throwing error allowed two runs to score. Nunn induced two ground-outs in a row to strand a runner at third and escape the frame. Paige Carter drew a walk in the bottom of the inning but was left stranded.

FAU left another runner stranded in the top of the sixth inning and the Hilltoppers were retired in order in the bottom half of the frame. Nunn picked up her fifth and sixth strikeouts of the game in the top of the seventh inning, tying her season-high.

Redshirt sophomore Princess Valencia led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a pinch-hit single and redshirt sophomore Taylor Davis was sent in to pinch-run for her. Paige Carter was then intentionally walked and Jordan Ridge drew a walk of her own to load the bases. Kennedy Sullivan stepped up to the plate and delivered a walk-off single to score Davis and hand WKU the 4-3 victory.

Game 2: WKU 4, FAU 0

Kennedy Sullivan got the start in the back half of WKU’s doubleheader and threw six innings while compiling nine strikeouts, a season-high. The two-way player now boasts a 2.27 ERA and 50 total strikeouts on the year. 

Sullivan hit her 11th home run of the season in the bottom of the first inning to give WKU a 1-0 lead. Sullivan is now tied with Paige Carter for most home runs on the team this season.

Kendall Smith drew a walk, redshirt junior Maddie Bowlds singled and Princess Valencia drew a walk of her own to load the bases with two outs later on in the frame but all three ended up stranded.

Sullivan returned to the circle after her home run and proceeded to strike out the side on just 12 pitches in the top of the second inning. Redshirt freshman Brylee Hage led off the bottom of the second with a single, redshirt freshman TJ Webster reached first base on a bunt, and Paige Carter drew a walk to load the bases for the second time in two innings. This prompted a pitching change for the Owls.

Jordan Ridge was hit by a pitch, walking in Hage. Bowlds then singled to drive in Webster, Princess Valencia singled to score Carter, and the Hilltoppers entered the third inning with a 4-0 lead. All nine starters made a plate appearance during the frame.

Sullivan picked up her fifth and sixth strikeouts in the top of the third inning. The Hilltoppers were retired in order in the bottom of the frame and Sullivan tacked on her seventh strikeout of the day in the top of the fourth inning.

The Hilltoppers loaded the bases for the third time in the game in the bottom of the fourth but couldn’t score. Sullivan tacked on her eighth strikeout in the top of the fifth and ninth in the top of the sixth.

Redshirt senior Kelsey Aikey relieved Sullivan to begin the seventh inning. The righty has been battling a shoulder injury and it was Aikey’s first appearance since April 23 against Charlotte.

Aikey picked up a strikeout to push her career total to 554, nine away from giving her sole possession of most strikeouts in program history. WKU alum Emily Rosseau currently holds the record with 562. Aikey then induced a pop-fly to secure the victory for the Hilltoppers.

WKU will play two more games against the Owls over the weekend but the start times of those two contests have yet to be determined due to expected inclement weather in the Bowling Green area. Once the series with FAU is complete, the Hilltoppers will turn their focus to the Conference USA Softball Championship on May 12-15, hosted by WKU.

Sports Editor Jake Moore can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Charles_JMoore.