Hage plays hero in extra innings as WKU upsets No. 24 Charlotte in series opener

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WKU Athletics

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers outfielder Brylee Hage (11) Green Bay vs WKU February 23, 2020 at WKU Softball Complex

Lynda Eernisse, Softball Reporter

WKU Softball (17-3, 1-0 C-USA) kicked off its first Conference USA of the season series against No. 24 Charlotte (18-5, 0-1 C-USA) on Friday. The low scoring game favored the Hilltoppers, defeating the 49ers 4-2 in extra innings. 

WKU’s fifth-year senior starting pitcher Shelby Nunn stayed in the circle throughout all nine innings of game play. She allowed two runs on five hits while striking out five. 

Senior Lindsey Walljasper pitched 4.2 innings for Charlotte. She allowed two runs on eight hits, striking out four Hilltoppers. Graduate Amelia Wiercioch relieved Walljasper in the fifth, throwing 4.1 innings. She allowed eight hits and two runs. 

WKU junior Brylee Hage went 2-of-5 with two RBIs, hitting the game-winning single in the ninth inning. 

Junior TJ Webster singled to lead off the game, but she was left stranded in the top of first. Nunn sat the 49ers down in order to end the first inning. 

It wasn’t until the second inning that WKU was able to grab an early lead. Fifth-year senior Maddie Bowls hit a two-out double before freshman Abby Newman hit an RBI single to give WKU and early 1-0 lead. 

Nunn gave up her first hit but a double play and ground out ended the second inning. Both teams went 1-2-3 to end the third inning. 

In the top of the fourth, Hage singled with two outs and Bowles followed with a doubled. Hage tried to score from first but was thrown out at home to end the frame. Nunn sat the 49ers down in order tie end the fourth.

Newman singled to lead off the top of the fifth. She advanced third on a sacrifice bunt and a ground out before the Hilltoppers put up another run on the bird with an RBI single from senior Taylor Davis. Charlotte didn’t answer in the bottom of the frame, a runner stranded on first base. 

Newman was singled with two out but was left stranded in the top of the sixth. Charlotte finally connected with some pitches in the bottom of the sixth. Junior Madelyn Wright singled followed by a single by junior Cori Henderson. Graduate Stacy Payton tied that game at 2-2 with a two-out, two-run RBI double. Nunn ended the inning on a pop up. 

Both teams went down in order to end the seventh inning and sent the game into extra innings. For the Hilltoppers, this was only the second time they had seen extra innings this season. 

Senior Jordan Ridge doubled and fifth-year senior Bailey Curry singled to lead off the top of the eighth for the Hilltoppers. Ridge was thrown out on a lot home plate on fielder’s choice Bowlds loaded the bases. Another fielder’s choice and a strikeout end the frame. Nunn walked one batter but Charlotte didn’t get anything going, ending the eighth. 

Webster and Davis singled to start the ninth and Curry walked an out later to load the bases in the top of the ninth inning. Brylee Hage gave WKU a 4-2 lead with a two-run RBI single. The 49ers were unable to do the same, leaving WKU with the first victory of the weekend. 

Up next in the series, the Hilltoppers and 49ers will be back to face against each other on Saturday at 12 p.m. CT.

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