WKU splits doubleheader at Middle Tennessee

WKU pitcher Kelsey Aikey (12) throws out a strike against Indiana state university on Feb 27, 2021 at the WKU softball field. The Hilltoppers defeated the sycamore 6-0 in the Hilltopper Classic to get their first at home victory.

Jake Moore

WKU Softball (16-8), (1-2, C-USA) split two games with Middle Tennessee (20-18), (6-5, C-USA) on Saturday in an afternoon doubleheader.

Game 1

Redshirt junior Shelby Nunn was given starter duties for the fifth time this season and put together a complete game, surrendering only two runs on five hits while collecting three strikeouts. 

Middle Tennessee wasted no time putting runs on the board, taking a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first after a one-out two-run double. It would prove to be the only offense the Blue Raiders could muster for the rest of the game.

The Hilltoppers were kept hitless until the top of the third when redshirt junior Maddie Bowlds broke through for a single. Redshirt sophomore Taylor Davis grounded out to second, allowing Bowlds to score the Hilltoppers’ first run of the game and break an eight-inning scoreless drought. 

Redshirt sophomore Kennedy Sullivan would then single to drive in redshirt senior Paige Carter, tying the game at 2-2. 

Redshirt freshman Taylor Sanders would single in the top of the seventh, advance to second on a bunt from redshirt sophomore Jordan Ridge, and then arrive at third on a wild pitch. Redshirt sophomore Princess Valencia would then hit a pinch-hit sacrifice fly to bring Sanders home and give WKU a 3-2 lead.

The Blue Raiders couldn’t put together a rally in the bottom of the seventh and WKU would secure its first Conference USA victory of the year as well as snap a three-game losing streak.

Game 2

Redshirt sophomore Kennedy Sullivan made her fifth start of the season in the second game of the doubleheader. The two-way player threw three innings and collected two strikeouts before being relieved by redshirt senior Kelsey Aikey. 

WKU would score first this time thanks to a two-out RBI single from redshirt freshman TJ Webster that scored fellow redshirt freshman Brylee Hage in the top of the second. But WKU’s 1-0 lead wouldn’t last long.

MTSU would get two runners on base with back-to-back walks in the bottom of the third and a home run to left field would put the Blue Raiders back in front 3-1. WKU would respond in the top of the fourth when redshirt junior Maddie Bowlds scored on an error to make the score 3-2.

Kelsey Aikey relieved Sullivan in the bottom of the fourth and would pick up her first strikeout of the day to end the inning. The strikeout would push her career total to 530 K’s, giving the righthander sole possession of second-most strikeouts in program history. She would end the game with three strikeouts and now only needs 31 to pass WKU alum Emily Rosseau for most in program history.

The Hilltoppers would tie the game 3-3 in the top of the fifth thanks to a single from redshirt junior Kendall Smith that drove in Kennedy Sullivan at third. Brylee Hage would then steal second, allowing Kendall Smith to score during the pickoff throw to give WKU a 4-3 lead.

MTSU would even the score 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth due to a wild pitch and both teams would be retired in order in the sixth inning to send the game into the seventh all tied up.

Taylor Sanders would reach first on a walk and made it to third with two outs but was caught at home to end the frame. MTSU would manage to put the winning run on second but the runner would end up stranded, forcing extra innings. 

Both teams would be retired in order in the eighth and Shelby Nunn, who relieved Aikey at the start of the seventh inning, picked up a strikeout. MTSU would walk away with the victory in the bottom of the ninth after a Blue Raider scored due to a fielding error.

The Hilltoppers will play MTSU at noon on Sunday to cap off the four-game series.

Softball beat reporter Jake Moore can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Charles_JMoore.