Gardner shines as WKU gets shutout in second day of Aggie Classic


WKU Athletics

Lady Topper Kelsey Aikey (12) pitching against Illinois State on March 1, 2020 at the WKU Softball Complex

Wyatt Sparkman, Sports Editor

WKU Softball (2-1) fell to the Texas A&M Aggies (3-0) on the second day of action in the Aggie Classic. The Hilltoppers left eight runners on base as the Aggie shut them out 2-0 Saturday night.  

The Hilltoppers were originally scheduled to play a doubleheader, but the second game against Texas A&M Corpus Christi was canceled due to rain and snow. 

WKU fifth-year senior Shelby Nunn started the game, throwing just 11 pitches in 0.1 innings after letting up two early homeruns. Junior Katie Gardner came in and delivered a spotless relief performance, pitching 5.2 scoreless innings while striking out five Aggie batters.   

Texas A&M senior Makinzy Herzog pitched a complete game shutout, striking out 10 of her Hilltopper opponents.  

WKU senior Taylor Davis went 2-of-3 from the plate. Texas A&M senior Haley Lee went 1-of-2, swatting a home run in the first inning, her first of the season.  

WKU got off to another slow start. Texas A&M seniors Lee and Herzog hit back-to-back home runs on Nunn before Gardner came into the game to halt the Aggie onslaught, striking out the last two batters to end the first inning. Both teams struggled to find runs the rest of the way.

Freshman Randi Drinnon singled but was left stranded on base. Gardner dominated the rest of the way for the Hilltoppers. Her only mishaps were an error and walk on back-to-back at bats in the bottom of the second inning before getting herself out of the jam with a ground out. 

The third and fourth innings weren’t much different for WKU. Junior T.J. Webster singled before an error put two Hilltopper runners on base for the first time in the game. 

A sacrifice bunt advanced both runners, but Herzog struck out the next two batters to strand both in scoring positions in the third. In the fourth inning, Davis doubled with two outs, but she was left stranded after a pop up. 

After an uneventful fifth inning, the Hilltoppers hoped to stir up late-game magic again. Junior Taylor Sanders walked to start the sixth inning after getting hit by a pitch before advancing on a fielder’s choice. A Davis bunt put the potential game-winning run at the plate. Drinnon struck out, leaving both stranded. 

Texas A&M had a chance to extend its lead after a double by junior Shaylee Ackerman. Ackerman advanced to third, but was picked off at third base later in the inning. Freshman Cayden Baker made it to third base, but Gardner forced a fly out, stranding Baker. 

WKU had one last chance to tie the game with a runner on first base in the top of the seventh, but senior Jordan Ridge struck out swinging to end the game.  

Sports Editor Wyatt Sparkman can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @wyattsparkman3.