WKU Softball closes out Spring Fling with pair of wins

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Marshall Canupp

WKU Softball’s 5th year pitcher Shelby Nunn (10) makes a pitch to home plate during their matchup with the Bellarmine University Softball team on Feb. 18 at the WKU Softball Complex.

Lynda Eernisse, Sports Reporter

WKU (13-1) played its final day of the Hilltopper Spring Fling tournament against the Ohio Bobcats and the Dayton Flyers on Sunday. WKU head coach Amy Tudor and her squad defeated both opponents and added to WKU Softball’s greatest start in program history while tying a record of 11 consecutive wins.

“I’m proud of the girls and all the time they put in and how they executed during the games,” Tudor said. “I felt like we did pretty good at everything this weekend. I think we have great culture, and I felt like at any given moment anybody can come in and do something great, and we’ve had several players step up in different situations.” 

vs OHIO 

WKU fifth-year senior Shelby Nunn started in the circle, pitching three innings and allowing three runs on six hits. Redshirt freshman Kelsie Houchens relieved Nunn in the fourth frame to throw for three innings and allow one run. Junior Katie Gardner closed the game, picking up her first save on the year.

On the other side, the Bobcats had senior Mackensie Kohl pitching for them in the circle. Kohl pitched a complete six innings. She allowed five runs in the game on seven hits. 

Senior Bobcat Brooke Rice went 2-for-3 on the day, knocking in two runs while junior Hilltopper Taylor Sanders went 2-for-3, hitting a solo home run. . 

Senior Megan McMenemy singled with two outs for the first hit of the game but was later left stranded. The Hilltoppers came out much stronger in the bottom of the first with a single thanks to senior Taylor Davis. She stole second before senior Jordan Ridge hit an RBI double, scoring Davis. Bailey Curry launched a two-run home run out of the WKU Softball Complex, giving WKU an early 3-0 lead.

Rice singled to lead off the bottom of the second for Ohio. WKU, on the other hand, got a few players on bases with walks. Davis added another run with an RBI single. WKU led 4-0 after two innings.

In the third inning, Ohio’s squad mounted a comeback.The Bobcats scored three runs on four hits with an RBI single from sophomore Paoli Annalia and a two-run RBI double from Rice. WKU didn’t return the favor, ending the third inning with one hit and no runs. 

Houchens gave up a walk to her first batter, but two outs later, the runner was caught stealing to end the frame. WKU went down in order to end the fourth inning.  

The fifth inning brought a little more action to the diamond. The Bobcats went three up, three down, leaving the plate open for the Hilltoppers to put up a run. Sanders launched a solo home run to close out the inning. 

Trying to match the Hilltoppers, sophomore Annalia Paoli singled to lead off the top of the sixth before sophomore Emily Walker pinch ran for her off an RBI single from senior Caitlin Fogue, cutting the Hilltopper lead to 5-4. WKU didn’t muster anything in the bottom of the sixth.

Gardner came to close out the game to give the Hilltoppers their 10th consecutive win 5-4. 

vs DAYTON 

Gardner started the second game for WKU, throwing four innings. She struck out four and allowed one run on four hits. Nunn relieved her in the fifth inning, finishing the game out with six strikeouts and allowing two runs. 

“My mindset is pretty much the same every weekend, just go in and throw how I know,” Gardner said.

Dayton put three pitchers out in the second game, combining for eight strikeouts and giving up three runs on four hits. 

Curry went 1-for-2 for WKU, hitting the game-winning home run in the fifth inning. 

Dayton started the first frame with no hits and left a runner stranded. WKU secured an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run. 

Neither team accomplished much in the second inning. Both teams recorded a hit but neither amounted to a run. 

The Hilltoppers put runners on base with a walk and a bunt. After a steal put both runners in scoring position, the Flyers intentionally walked Curry. The decision turned out great for Dayton with junior Brylee Hage striking out to leave all three runners stranded. 

Dayton senior Alyssa Cacini then launched a solo home run in the fourth inning and senior Kallie Jones hit one of her own in the top of the fifth, giving Dayton a 2-1 advantage.

WKU bounced back in the bottom of the fifth. Senior Jordan Ridge walked with two outs and Curry stepped up and launched a two-run home run that tipped off of the outfielder’s glove. This gave the Hilltoppers a 3-2 lead at the end of five innings. 

“I know our team depends on me to hit the ball, and I think I’ve put in the work, as all of us have,” Curry said. “We’ve all put in the work to get on base, and we know that somebody is going to pick it up.”

In the seventh, Nunn secured the 11th consecutive win for the Hilltoppers, putting the Flyers down in order to win 3-2. 

Up next, the Hilltoppers will be heading to Oxford, Mississippi, to participate in the Ole Miss Classic. They will first be facing Samford at 1 p.m. CT on Friday, March 4. 

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