WKU Softball sweeps doubleheader after rallying in the seventh inning in the second game for ninth straight win

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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 (11-1) ended another day of the Hilltopper Spring Fling with a 7-1 victory over the Ohio Bobcats followed by a 4-3 walk-off victory over Illinois State. This marks the third walk-off win for WKU this season.

“Great team wins today,” WKU head coach Amy Tudor said in a press release. “All our arms threw well with [Kelsie] Houchens stepping up when needed to in game two. Our offense responded to another pressure situation, which is something that will aid us in future contests.” 

OHIO 

WKU junior Katie Gardner started her fourth game on the mound, pitching five innings and allowing one run on four hits while striking out seven batters. Freshman Savannah Fierke relieved Gardner in the sixth, going two inning and only giving up two hits with no runs. 

Senior Kylie Coffelt started for Ohio, giving up seven runs in six innings of work. 

Hilltopper junior Taylor Sanders went 2-for-4 at the plate, scoring three runs while batting in two. 

WKU started the game strong with Gardner giving up no runs and hits while leaving one runner stranded to end the top of the first. Junior TJ Webster singled and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and fielder’s choice to start the bottom of the first. 

Webster scored the first run of the game on a wild pitch before senior Jordan Ridge hit an RBI single to send Sanders home from third base. WKU led 2-0 after the first inning of play. 

The Bobcats repeated their first inning but with fifth-year senior Brooke Rice getting the first hit on Gardner. WKU didn’t build off the success in the first inning, leaving with one hit and a runner stranded.

Ohio got on the scoreboard in the third inning. The Bobcats brought in a solo home run from senior Caroline Spacek. In response to Spacek’s batting, the Hilltoppers responded with a lead off single from senior Taylor Davis. 

Davis stole second before an RBI single from Sanders brought Davis home. Sanders scored on an error, giving WKU a 4-1 lead and closing out the third inning

The Bobcats had little success at the plate in the top of the fourth, eventually returning to the outfield after two hits and two strikeouts left the runners stranded in scoring position. The Hilltoppers lit things up in the bottom of the fourth. WKU started the frame with back-to-back hits. 

Sanders then hit an RBI single that scored Webster before fifth-year senior Bailey Curry broke the game open with a two-run RBI double that sent Davis and Sanders to home plate, extending the Hilltopper lead 7-1. 

Both teams went to the fifth inning, starting a dry spell that lasted the rest of the game. The Bobcats put two runners on base with walks before leaving them stranded. As for the Hilltoppers, they ended the inning with one hit and one stranded on base. 

The sixth inning was uneventful as well. Ohio got a two-out hit from fifth-year senior Megan McMenemy, but it amounted to nothing. WKU was put down in order to end the sixth.

The Bobcats stepped up to plate for the last time in the seventh inning, leaving a runner on base. WKU won its eighth consecutive game 7-1.

ILLINOIS STATE

Fifth-year senior Shelby Nunn started in the circle for WKU in game two. She pitched four inning, allowing three runs before Kelsie Houchens relieved her in the fifth inning. Houchens allowed no runs in three innings. Both Hilltopper pitchers had three strikeouts in the game.

Illinois State junior Amanda Fox threw six innings allowing four runs on six hits while striking out six Hilltoppers. 

Fifth-year senior Bailey Curry scored the first run of the game for the Hilltoppers on a solo home run. She went 1-for-1 in the game while drawing two walks. 

Sophomore Reili Gardner scored the first hit of the game on a one-out single for Illinois State. The Redbirds secured the first lead with freshman Abby Knight’s RBI double with two outs. The Hilltoppers didn’t reciprocate, loading the bases and error and two walks before a foul out left them stranded. Illinois State led 1-0 at the end of the first inning. 

The Redbirds were put down in order in the top of the second inning before the Hilltoppers left two more runners stranded to close the inning out. 

In the third inning, Illinois State advanced its lead a little bit further. Junior Kaili Chval walked to lead off, then advanced to third base after two ground ball outs. Chval scored on an RBI single from senior Emme Olson, extending their lead 2-0. WKU didn’t match, leaving multiple runners on base for a third straight inning. 

Illinois State brought in another run in the fourth inning on a solo home run by junior Dayna Kennedy. The Hilltopper left the inning, getting a runner on base with an error and becoming the eighth Hilltopper stranded in the game. The Redbirds ended the fourth inning with a 3-0 lead. 

After a quick top of the fifth, Tudor and her squad finally connected the bat and ball in the bottom of the frame to put a run up on the scoreboard. Curry launched a solo home run to center field, cutting the lead to 3-1. 

Coming off a home run from Curry in the fifth, neither team was able to put any else up on the board in the sixth inning. The Redbirds left the plate with one hit and a player left on base, and the Hilltoppers were put down in order. 

The top of the seventh flew by with Illinois State just getting one hit. Webster and Davis led off the bottom of the seventh with back-to-back singles. Sanders singled, advancing both runners, but a throwing error led Webster to score, cutting the Redbird lead to 3-2.

On the next at bat, Davis tied the game on a wild pitch before Sanders advanced to third and scored on another error from Illinois State, handing WKU a 4-3 walk-off victory for its ninth consecutive win. 

To close out the Hilltopper Spring Fling, WKU will play in two more games on Sunday. The first game will be against Ohio again at 12:30 p.m. and the second game will be against Dayton at 3 p.m. 

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