WKU Softball sweeps first day of Hilltopper Classic with run-rule victories

WKU+junior+infielder+TJ+Webster+encourages+fifth-year+pitcher+Shelby+Nunn+during+WKUs+exhibition+doubleheader+against+Austin+Peay+on+Oct.+12%2C+2021.

Gunnar Word / WKU Athletics

WKU junior infielder TJ Webster encourages fifth-year pitcher Shelby Nunn during WKU’s exhibition doubleheader against Austin Peay on Oct. 12, 2021.

Lynda Eernisse, Sports reporter

WKU Softball (5-1) won its first two home games of the season on Friday at the WKU Softball Complex. Both the Hilltoppers’ wins came by run-rule as the offense clicked the entire afternoon. 

CENTRAL MICHIGAN 

WKU junior pitcher Katie Gardner struck out nine batters and allowed just two runs on four hits in a complete six-inning outing. 

Central Michigan redshirt junior Kaitlyn Bean threw for five innings, allowing seven runs on seven hits with two of those runs being earned. Freshman Maddy Wallace finished the game, pitching 0.2 innings and allowing three runs on two hits. 

WKU fifth-year senior Maddie Bowlds went 3-of-4, batting in four runs, including a three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning. 

Central Michigan started the day hot, getting back-to-back hits in its first two at bats. The Chippewas took an early 2-0 lead with a two-run RBI double from redshirt sophomore Caitlyn Britton. 

The Hiltoppers bounced back in the bottom of the first inning with their first runner reaching on an error before the first hit came from senior Jordan Ridge. Fifth-year senior Bailey Curry cut into Central Michigan’s lead with an RBI single down the right field line. 

WKU rallied, taking the lead on a 4-2 lead on a three-run home run by Bowlds. A fly-out ended the Hilltoppers’ chances to tack on more runs in the inning. 

Both programs slowed down after their hot offensive starts. Gardner struck out the side in the top of second before WKU left a runner stranded on second base in the bottom of the frame. 

The third inning looked much the same with three total hits from the both programs and no score. Garner struck out the side again in the top of the fourth frame before WKU left another runner stranded in scoring position to end the inning. 

As the Chippewa bats began to slow down, the Hilltopper bats started to heat up in the bottom of the fifth. A hit by pitch put a runner on before junior Taylor Sanders extended the WKU lead with a two-run home run.

Curry walked the next at bat and freshman Kasia Parks came in to pinch run. She reached third base after a steal and an error before scoring on an RBI single by Bowlds, giving the Hilltoppers a 7-2 lead. 

After another three-up and three-down inning by Central Michigan, WKU closed out the game. A walk and a single put runners on first and second before a Ridge single scored both runners. 

A walk, and error and a steal later, WKU had runners on second and third base. Ridge scored on an error to give the Hilltoppers a 10-2 run-rule win to start the Hilltopper Classic. 

BELLARMINE

WKU fifth-year senior Shelby Nunn threw for a complete five inning game, striking out four batters while giving up one run. 

Bellarmine freshman Claire Lehmkuhler tossed for one inning, allowing four runs on four hits. Sophomore Carson Goatley came in relief, pitching 2.2 innings while allowing seven runs on eight hits. 

WKU fifth-year senior Bailey Curry went 3-for-3, batting in four runs with help a two-run home run.

The Hilltoppers picked up where they left off in their second game of the day. Nunn gave up one hit but no runs in the top of the first inning. Junior TJ Webster started the bottom of the first by getting on first base after an error. Sanders batted her in, giving WKU an early 1-0 advantage.

Sanders advanced to third base after a wild pitch and single before scoring on a passed ball. Curry opened the Hilltoppers’ lead to 4-0 with a two-run shot to right field. 

The next two innings saw the Hilltopper offense cool off. After a three-up and three-down inning by Bellarmine, WKU picked up one hit but left its runners stranded to end the second inning. 

Bellarmine graduate Abby Shipley doubled to start the third inning before a double by graduate Oliva Bricker scored Shipley for the Knights, cutting the Hilltopper lead to 4-1. Ground balls and fielder’s choices allowed WKU to keep its 4-1 lead heading into the fourth inning. 

After Bellarmine went three up and three down, WKU quickly loaded the bases on its first three at bats. A sacrifice fly scored senior Taylor Davis. Curry singled, scoring two more runs for the Hilltoppers. WKU added another run off an error. 

Junior Brylee Hage put runners on first and second base before freshman Randi Drinnon put the icing on the cake with a three-run home run to put the Hilltoppers up 11-1. 

Nunn forced a three-up and three-down top of the fifth inning to give WKU its third consecutive run-rule win. 

WKU will play two more games in the WKU Hilltopper Classic on Saturday with the first game to start at 12:30 p.m. 

Sports reporter Lynda Eernisse can be reached at [email protected]

Sports Editor Wyatt Sparkman contributed to this article.