Lady Toppers split day one at Red & Black Challenge

WKU outfielder Maggie Trgo (20) warms up at the ondeck circle while Kennedy Foote (21) is at bat against Indiana state university. The hilltoppers defeated the sycamores 6-0 in the hilltopper classic to get their first at home victory on Feb 27, 2021.

Jake Moore

WKU softball (10-4) started its first day of action in the Red & Black Challenge in Louisville by picking up a win against Valparaiso and getting shut out by host Louisville Cardinals in a 3-0 defeat.

Valparaiso (4-8)

The Hilltoppers came into the weekend looking to bounce back from a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to Mississippi State March 7. WKU got their redemption in the form of a 8-5 victory over Valparaiso, a team WKU was scheduled to play earlier in the season but was unable to do due to COVID-19 contact tracing in the Crusader program.

Redshirt senior Paige Carter gave the Hilltoppers the early 1-0 lead by hitting a solo home run, her fourth of the season, during the first at-bat of the game. Redshirt junior Jordan Thomas knocked in two more runs in the following inning to put the Hilltoppers ahead 3-0, and the scoring didn’t stop there. 


Redshirt sophomore Kennedy Sullivan brought home Carter and Thomas with an RBI single and redshirt junior Kendall Smith batted Sullivan in to set the score to 6-0 after a five-run second inning.

Valparaiso scored an RBI single in the second, and on a two-out RBI double in the third to cut WKU’s lead to 6-2. A wild pitch would allow another Valpo runner to score in the fifth, but a Carter double in the sixth would make it a 7-3 ballgame. 

Valparaiso started to inch closer later in the game, scoring two runs on an RBI double in the sixth to cut the lead to 7-5. WKU would answer in the seventh with an RBI pinch-hit double from redshirt sophomore Princess Valencia to tack on another run.

WKU entered the bottom of the seventh up 8-5. Valpo managed to put runners on first and second with no outs, prompting redshirt senior Kelsey Aikey to relieve redshirt freshman Katie Gardner. Aikey would strike out the next three batters she faced in succession to earn the save and lock up the win for the Hilltoppers.

Louisville (9-7)

Aikey started the second game of the day and pitched two scoreless innings before the Cardinals broke the scoring drought with a bases-clearing double in the third that put the hosts up 3-0. 

WKU was able to put runners on base, as Kennedy Sullivan and redshirt junior Maddie Bowlds both notched doubles, but the Lady Toppers were not able to convert those opportunities to runs as 10 Hilltoppers ended up being left on base throughout the game. 

Aikey pitched well besides a shaky third inning, finishing up the game with a respectable line of six strikeouts, four hits, three walks and three earned runs. 

In the end, the Hilltoppers were unable to bring in runs when it mattered. It was the second time this year that WKU has been shut out.

WKU won’t have too much time to dwell on the loss as the Hilltoppers will be back in action on Sunday with a rematch against Valparaiso at 1 p.m. CT. 

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