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Tops drop doubleheader at Marshall despite early leads

HUNTINGTON, W. Va. — WKU Softball opened both games of today’s doubleheader at Marshall with early leads before ultimately falling in both contests on the day. Game one went down as a 5-3 loss while the second game favored Marshall, 10-4, from Huntington. Hilltopper bats started to warm up again as the WKU squad registered six hits in both games on the day.

“Our offense improved today, which is something that we will be able to build on moving forward in our schedule,” head coach Amy Tudor stated. “Starting in the circle, Towers and Downing both did a good job against a high-powered Marshall offense.”

The setbacks moved WKU Softball to 18-17 on the year and to 3-4 in Conference USA action. Marshall has now won 14-straight contests and sits at 22-4 on the year and 8-0 in league play.

GAME 34: MARSHALL 5, WKU 3
Wasting no time getting things going, WKU took a 1-0 lead after the first inning of play at the Dot Hicks Field. Brittany Vaughn shot a single off of Marshall’s pitcher’s glove and went on to advance to second on an errant pick-off attempt during Tommi Stowers’ walk. Taylor Proctor was able to beat out an infield single which allowed Vaughn to come around and score.

After Marshall put up five runs in the bottom of the third frame, the Hilltoppers got back to work offensively. WKU used a two-run fifth inning to pull within 3-5 in the day’s opening tilt. Katie Johnson opened the frame with her first career hit when she singled to right field. A Haylee Towers walk moved Johnson into scoring position and both runners advanced a bag when Jordan Mauch foul-flied out. Kara Brewer went on to line a single off of the first baseman’s glove allowing Johnson to score and Towers to move to third. Two batters later, Stowers sent a single to left field which allowed Towers to score the Red and White’s second run of the inning.

Towers went the distance in the circle, throwing 92 pitches in 6.0 innings pitched. The freshman tallied a pair of strikeouts after carrying a no hitter into the third inning.

The top five batters in WKU’s batting order recorded hits in the day’s first game for five of the Hilltoppers’ six hits. Brewer and Stowers each accounted for an RBI in the contest.

GAME 35: MARSHALL 10, WKU 4
WKU took the lead again in game two after plating a pair of runs in the top of the third inning after three Marshall errors in the frame. Mauch got things rolling when she reached on an error and advanced safely to second base during a Brewer fielder’s choice. Vaughn went on to single to load the bases before everyone advanced safely when Stowers reach on another fielder’s choice. Despite Marshall turning two on the next Hilltopper at-bat, Brewer went on to score for a 2-0 WKU advantage.

Marshall evened things up at 2-2 in the bottom of the third inning before Kathryn Downing could close the inning with a swinging strikeout followed by a looking tally.

Fourth-inning action opened with a Rebekah Engelhardt single back up the middle followed by a Morgan McElroy bunt that allowed both runners into scoring position after another error by the Thundering Herd. Mauch was intentionally walked to load the bases bringing Brewer to the plate. Brewer went on to advance everybody a bag with a single. Up next, Vaughn sent a sacrifice fly deep to right field, allowing McElroy to score from third base for the 4-2 WKU lead.

Downing opened the bottom of the fourth inning right where she left off in the previous frame – with a strikeout – for three-consecutive strikeouts. With the help of the defense, the Hilltoppers returned to the dugout unscathed despite a pair of Marshall runners reaching base.

Three fifth-inning runs by Marshall allowed the Thundering Herd to take the 5-4 lead. The hosts went on to tack on five more runs in the bottom of the sixth frame as the Hilltoppers struggled to find outs.

Vaughn finished the game going 2-for-3 at the plate for her fifth multi-hit game of the year, knocking two singles.

Taking the loss on the day was Downing, who worked 4.1 innings before being relieved by Kelsey Aikey in the circle. Downing had tallied five strikeouts before exiting the game.

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