Lady Toppers to battle against Mississippi State for Bulldog Invitational Championship

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers outfielder Brylee Hage (11) Green Bay vs WKU February 23, 2020 at WKU Softball Complex

Jake Moore

WKU Softball (9-2) returned to the dirt Saturday afternoon for two more games in the Bulldog Invitational. The Hilltoppers lost their second game of the season after host Mississippi State put up 10 runs in a mercy-rule victory to end WKU’s five-game win streak. 

WKU fought back after the loss to Mississippi State to beat Ball State by a score of 8-1 in order to complete the sweep of the Cardinals and to set the seeding for the consolation and championship games for Sunday.

“I am very proud of the team’s response after falling in game one,” head coach Amy Tudor said in a release. “We came out with a purpose and played all parts of the game well. Sullivan held down the circle while a lot of players, including her, provided plenty of run support.”

Mississippi State (11-5)

WKU would use three different pitchers through four innings of pitching during the loss. Redshirt senior Kelsey Aikey would start, surrendering four runs through just one and one-third innings. Redshirt junior Shelby Nunn would take over for Aikey but would give up five runs to an explosive Mississippi State offense that scored eight runs in the second frame alone. 

The Hilltoppers were shut out for the first time this season, mustering just four hits and leaving nine runners on base. Redshirt junior Jordan Thomas and redshirt sophomore Kennedy Sullivan hit their second and third doubles on the year respectively but neither of them could cross the plate to score.

The Bulldogs secured the mercy-rule victory by being up by over eight runs after the Hilltoppers failed to cut the lead in the fifth inning. It was the first time WKU had been beaten in this way since South Alabama defeated the Hilltoppers 8-0 on March 14, 2018.

Ball State (3-5) 

The second game of the day fell in WKU’s favor and the squad recovered nicely from the tough loss they faced against the Bulldogs. Kennedy Sullivan was handed starting pitcher duties and put together six innings of one-run baseball before being relieved by Kelsey Aikey in the seventh in order to get the last three outs. Sullivan finished with five strikeouts, four hits, three walks and one run and her season ERA now stands at 2.59.

Redshirt junior Maddie Bowlds put WKU on the board first with an RBI single in the bottom of the second. Ball State would respond with an RBI single of its own in the next frame, but it would prove to be the only run the Cardinals could manage to score all game. Redshirt junior Kendall Smith brought home redshirt freshman TJ Webster with a single to break the 1-1 tie and Kennedy Sullivan swatted a double to give WKU a 3-1 run lead in the third.

The scoring wasn’t over, and redshirt sophomore Jordan Ridge hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the third for her first homer of her collegiate career. Her blast to left center extended WKU’s lead to 6-1 and RBI singles from both Kennedy Sullivan and redshirt freshman Brylee Hage would tack on two more runs to make the score 8-1, where it would stand until the final out.

WKU will return to the field Sunday at 1:30 p.m. for a rematch against Mississippi State in the Bulldog Invitational Championship.

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