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WKU softball starts season 3-1-1

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WKU Softball swung into the 2024 season this past weekend, taking three wins in the Sunshine state at the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Leadoff Classic. 

Overall, WKU walked away from the tournament hosted in Clearwater, Florida with a 3-1-1 record.

Along with the 3-1-1 record, WKU senior pitcher Katie Gardner was named Conference-USA pitcher of the week. Gardner finished the weekend with a 1.40 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 15 innings of work. 

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Day 1

In their first matchup on Friday, the Lady Toppers defeated Missouri State University 1-0.

Fifth year outfielder Brylee Hage put WKU on the board in the bottom of the fifth after fifth year infielder TJ Webster singled.

In their second game of the tournament, WKU fell to the University of Iowa 8-0.

Day 2

Bouncing back from the blowout loss, WKU defeated Army 7-1 on Saturday.

Freshman infielder Morgan Sharpe scored for the first time as a Topper in the bottom of the first. Hage and fifth year infielder Taylor Sanders both had strong performances as well, each scoring twice for WKU.

Fueled by their victory in the first part of the day, WKU closed Saturday with a win over North Carolina State 7-2. Gardner threw seven strikeouts in the game.

“I thought today, the freshmen stepped up and the upperclassmen stepped up,” Head Coach Amy Tudor said. “I thought we played a pretty complete game.” 

The Lady Toppers came out strong, with six of their seven runs posted in the top of the first. Hage and Sharpe were the first to score. Redshirt catcher and utility player Cheyanne Scales later scored following a walk from freshman outfielder Kendle White.

Junior Catcher and infielder Randi Drinnon scored for WKU in the first to make it 4-0. 

To follow, White and Senior utility Kelsey Schmidt acquired the last two runs for WKU on the same play in the first.

The next and last to score for the Lady Toppers was Scales in the top of the second. Despite NC State’s two runs in the bottom of the third and sixth, WKU’s outstanding first inning proved too much for the Wolfpack.

Day 3

To close the tournament, WKU finished in a tie 2-2 with Kansas on Sunday. The game ended early due to time.

Both of WKU’s runs came in the bottom of the third inning. Webster scored first after Sanders singled up the middle.

Later in the inning, Hage scored the final run for the Lady Toppers thanks to a single from Shape to left field.

WKU will continue their season in the Chattanooga Challenge, taking on the University of North Alabama on Feb. 16 at 11:30a.m. CST in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Sports reporter Molly St. Clair can be reached at [email protected].

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