WKU Softball win WKU Hilltopper Classic with a nail-biting finish

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Marshall Canupp

WKU Softball’s fifth year utility/catcher Bailey Curry (44) celebrates with her teammates after hitting a three-run home run during their matchup with Bellarmine University on Feb. 18 at the WKU Softball Complex.

Lynda Eernisse, Softball Reporter

WKU Softball (8-1) won the championship game of the WKU Hilltopper Classic 5-4 against the Southeastern Missouri Redhawks (5-5) Sunday afternoon. WKU completed the tournament with a 5-0 record, winning six consecutive games. 

“Shelby [Nunn] had great composure on the mound when things weren’t going our way defensively, so I was really proud of our overall team effort,” WKU head coach Amy Tudor said. “Obviously, SEMO was a very good team, and it was a great test to play them twice, both good battles. It’s very difficult to stay the course and focus on the process and not focus on the outcome, and I felt like those two [Nunn and Bailey Curry] did that today, as well as a lot of other players.” 

Senior pitcher Shelby Nunn started her second game of the weekend tournament for WKU throwing a complete game and allowing four runs on five hits. 

“It’s a marathon for each one of us,” Nunn said. “I think if we just continue putting in the work that things will be very interesting at the end of the season.” 

SEMO senior pitcher Rachel Rook started on the mound, throwing for six innings and allowing four on eight hits. Junior Marisa Davis came in relief in the bottom of the sixth, allowing one run on one hit. 

Graduate Bailey Curry batted 1-for-3 for the Hilltoppers with her lone hit scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth. She batted in 12 runs in five games over the weekend, slugging .600. Redhawk sophomore Paige Halliwill went 1-of-3, batting in three runs on the afternoon. 

“I think I felt a little more comfortable playing this weekend than last weekend,” Curry said. “I went in every day and brought a couple of people with me and just did a couple extra swings a day and it obviously paid off a bit.” 

The championship game started slow through the first three innings with the pitchers dominating the game. Nunn threw a no hitter through the first three innings of play. On the other side, Rook allowed one hit and no Hilltopper runners past second base. 

Both teams in the first inning left runners on bases. The second and the third inning was much of the same with SEMO going down in order and WKU leaving runners stranded on base. 

Southeastern Missouri got hot at the plate in the top of the fourth after a sluggish first three innings. Junior Chelsy Pena batted in one run on an RBI single, advancing two runners to second and third base. Shortly after, Halliwill added a three-run RBI double, extending the Redhawks’ lead to 4-0. 

WKU led off the bottom of the fourth with singles from Taylor Davis and Taylor Sanders. Both advanced into scoring position after a ground ball out. However, both were left stranded on second and third base to end the fourth inning. 

The Redhawks didn’t muster much in the top of the fifth, getting one hit and scoring no runs. Junior Brylee Hage led off the bottom of the fifth with a double for the Hilltoppers and advanced to third base on a wild pitch, but sophomore Jillian Anderson’s diving catch in left field left her stranded. 

Nunn made quick work of SEMO, putting them down in order. Davis and Sanders repeated what they did in the fourth inning, leading off the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back singles before advancing into scoring position with a wild pitch. 

Both runners scored on a Curry single to cut the deficit to 4-2 with one out. Freshman Kasia Parks came in to pinch run for Curry. Fifth-year senior Maddie Bowlds singled, advancing Parks to third. Hage batted in Parks on a single before the Hilltoppers loaded the bases after a walk. 

Freshman Kennedy Foote scored Bowlds on a sacrifice fly when Pena misplayed the ball at third base, allowing Hage to score from second and give WKU a 5-4 lead. 

Nunn closed out the game with a three up and three down at the top of the seventh, giving WKU its sixth consecutive win and a 5-0 record at the WKU Hilltopper Classic. 

“I couldn’t ask for it to be much better,” Curry said. “It’s been good. I can’t wait for the rest of the season, and I’m just glad that I get to do it with these girls.”

Up next, the Hilltoppers will play in the Hilltopper Spring Fling tournament. Their first game will begin on Friday at 3 p.m. against the Ohio Bobcats.

Softball Reporter Lynda Eernisse can be reached at [email protected]