WKU’s five home runs leads to win over FIU


Marshall Canupp

WKU Softball junior outfielder Brylee Hage (11) makes contact during WKU’s matchup with the Arkansas Razorbacks on March 21, 2022 at the WKU Softball Complex.

Lynda Eernisse, Softball Reporter

WKU Softball kicked off its weekend conference series against the Florida International Panthers in Miami on Friday, taking the first game of the three game series 9-5. 

Along with a fantastic win, the Hilltoppers tied a school record of three consecutive home runs, doing so in the third inning. It is the first time WKU accomplished this feat since 2013. WKU finished the night with five home runs from five different Hilltoppers. 

“We scored first, but then we were tested,” WKU head coach Amy Tudor said in a press release. “I was proud of how we responded to that with big bats. Our hitters made great adjustments, especially the five who all hit homers.”

After a lackluster offensive start to the game, the Hilltoppers took their first lead of the night in the bottom of second inning. Senior Jordan Ridge singled for WKU’s first hit of the game before freshman Abby Newman stepped up with two outs and two runners on base with an RBI single to put WKU up 1-0. 

Fifth-year senior Shelby Nunn shut down the Panthers’ offensive attack early in the game, only allowing five hits and stranded seven runners on base in the first five innings. She pitched 5.2 innings, allowing five runs in total before junior Katie Gardner relieved her in the sixth. 

In the bottom of the third, the Hilltoppers almost made history. Junior Taylor Sanders brought in the first solo home run of the night before Ridge and fifth-year senior Bailey Curry followed with solo homers of their own to give WKU a 4-0 lead going into the fourth frame.  

WKU was helped out by FIU in the bottom of the fourth. The Hilltoppers loaded the bases on an error and two walks before senior Curry extended the WKU lead to 5-0 on an RBI foul out. 

Both teams put runners in scoring position in the fifth inning but did not muster a run. 

The Panthers offense started to click in the bottom sixth. They quickly loaded the bases before a fielder’s choice scored the first run of the game for FIU. After two Nunn strikeouts, FIU senior Venessa Gallegos smashed a three-run RBI double to cut the deficit to one run. The Panthers tied the game at 5-5 on a single before Gardner ended the frame with a strikeout.

WKU regained its lead in the bottom of the sixth with a three-run home run by fifth year senior Maddie Bowlds. Following Bowlds, freshman Randi Drinnon hit the fifth and final home run of the night to give WKU a 9-5 lead going into the seventh. 

The game was closed out thanks to the Panthers going down in order in the top of the seventh, securing the win for the Hilltoppers. 

Up next, the Hilltoppers and Panthers will play the second game of the series on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the WKU Softball Complex.

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