WKU Softball and Baseball host media day prior to 2023 seasons


Credit: WKU Athletics

The WKU softball team cheers from the dugout after a successful bunt from Kennedy Sullivan against North Texas on Sunday. The Hilltoppers went on to win 8-0, advancing their conference record to 12-3.

Jake McMahon

WKU Softball and Baseball held their annual media day press conference Tuesday, Feb. 7. 

WKU Softball looks to build on their impressive 2022 campaign in the upcoming season. The 2022 season was one of the Hilltoppers best seasons since joining the C-USA. WKU went an impressive 38-13 overall and won the east division of the C-USA with a 17-7 conference record.

“Our main goal is to build this team and develop our past successes in the future,” Head Coach Amy Tudor said. “We’re going into every competition looking forward to getting better.”

WKU Softball has some major players returning from last year’s squad. Senior outfielder Taylor Davis comes back to the Hilltoppers after a stellar 2022 season. Davis batted .397 with an OBP of .447 and 19 RBI’s. The impressive stats landed Davis a spot on the Preseason all C-USA squad. 

“I was very thankful to be respected like that,” Davis said. “ But also I can take that as a boost of confidence. Yes, I can do this, but I have to go to work.”

Other major players returning for the Hilltoppers include senior’s Brylee Hage and Taylor Sanders. Sanders provided much of the power on the lineup last year as she tallied 11 home runs and 54 RBI’s. Hage will hopefully bring back her offensive production from last year. She had a .356 batting average with .500 slugging and 19 RBI’s.

Along with the players coming back to the squad, WKU brought in some help during the offseason. Fifth year senior Faith Hegh joins the Hilltoppers for her last year of eligibility after four years with the UAB Blazers. Last year at UAB Hegh batted .318 with 11 doubles. 

“The goal was to go to a winning program,” Hegh said. “I know that WKU has a very good family oriented atmosphere and that was my goal just to have fun my last year.”

WKU Softball will kick-off their 2023 season Friday Feb. 10 against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Florida Invitational in Leesburg, Florida. 

“We worked really hard coming back in January,” Tudor said. “We’re looking forward to getting the season started in sunny Florida.”

WKU baseball looks to bounce back after a disappointing 2022 season. The Hilltoppers went 18-36 overall along with a 7-23 CUSA record landing them last in the conference. New Head Coach Marc Rardin, who had much success at the Junior College level, is looking to change the culture here on the hill. 

“I have passion and I know what wins,” Rardin said. “They have really gotten into the acceptance of what we’re trying to do.” 

Rardin was at Iowa Western Community College for 20 years before accepting the job at WKU. In his 20 years with the Junior College, Rardin took home three NJCAA Division I World Series Titles.

WKU will have a big advantage throughout the first part of play. The Hilltoppers will have 16 of their first 17 games at home at Nick Denes Field. 

“I think home games tend to build a lot of confidence especially in first year guys,” fifth year senior CJ Weins said. “[Home games] Helps a lot of guys transition into college play.”

WKU will bring back some familiar faces to this year’s lineup. Senior Tristin Garcia returns to the Hilltoppers after an impressive 2022 campaign. In 2022, Garcia had a .323/.367/.455 slash line along with 28 RBI’s in his 220 at bats. Those stats landed Garcia on the Preseason all C-USA team. 

Along with Garcia, the Hilltoppers return two important bats in redshirt-junior Ty Crittenberger and sophomore Ty Bautish. Last year, Bautish brought the power to the lineup as he led the squad in home runs with eight and RBI’s with 34. Crittenberger also had an impressive 2022 season as he hit .287 with 21 RBI’s and a .412 slugging percentage. 

“We’re trying to get them to have a chance to win,” Rardin said. “Being in the opportunity to have a chance, that’s what we’re doing right now

WKU Baseball will begin the season Friday, Feb. 17 against the Dayton Flyers at Nick Denes field. 

Sports reporter Jake McMahon can be reached at [email protected]