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WKU, EKU split final regular-season softball doubleheader

RICHMOND, Ky. – With conference play already complete for the 2017 campaign, WKU
Softball closed the regular season with a doubleheader split on Wednesday at Eastern
Kentucky. The Hilltoppers claimed the first game by a 3-2 margin after Kathryn
Downing carried a one-hitter deep into the contest before EKU stole the second
contest, 11-6.

“I’m glad to come away with a win on the road and to see our offense produce like it
did today,” head coach Amy Tudor opened. “Kat Downing also did a great job of
keeping EKU quiet at the plate.”

WKU wrapped up the regular season with an even 27-27 reading overall while EKU moved
to 23-29 in the mid-week non-conference matchup.

Three Hilltoppers recorded multi-hit games in the outings as Adarian Gray, Kara
Brewer and Brittany Vaughn each tallied a pair of hits. Vaughn now ties for the team
lead with 13 multi-hit efforts while Brewer has six and Gray owns five.

GAME 53: WKU 3, EKU 2
Going down in order on consecutive ground outs to open the game, WKU got on the
board in the top of the second frame. Rebekah Engelhardt opened things up when she
beat out a one-out bunt single. Vaughn followed with a base hit to advance
Engelhardt into scoring position. Taking a first-pitch strike, Morgan McElroy went
on to rope a two-out double to the wall in left field to bring Engelhardt around to
score for a 1-0 lead.

In the circle, Downing carried a no-hitter 2.2 innings before the Colonels were able
to put up a single for their first hit of the day. Downing wouldn’t relinquish
another hit until the bottom of the sixth inning.

The bottom of the fifth inning saw Downing need just three pitches to get WKU back
into the dugout. Adarian Gray handled a hard-hit ball and stepped on first for the
first out, before Brittany Vaughn moved left to field a grounder by second base and
fired to Gray for the next out. The final pitch resulted in a bunt back to Downing
who tossed to Gray to close the frame.

With two outs in the top of the seventh, McElroy drew a walk to extend the inning
and bring Gray to the plate. Gray sent the fourth pitch she saw down the right-field
line and over the wall for a home run and a 3-0 WKU lead. The knock was the seventh
of the freshman’s debut season.

“Pudge’s [Adarian Gray] home run was a great piece of insurance that we eventually
needed in the bottom of the seventh,” Tudor added. “That hit gave us a little bit of
breathing room.”

EKU managed to tally a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh and had the tying
and winning runs on base when WKU tallied the final out of the game on a grounder to
Engelhardt at third.

Downing went the distance for the 13th time on the season and improved to 15-12
overall with the complete-game four-hitter.

GAME 54: EKU 11, WKU 6
Wasting no time in the second part of the day’s twin bill, WKU opened the first
inning by plating four runners before taking the field. Kara Brewer got things going
with a one-out single before Jordan Mauch drew a walk. Two batters later Engelhardt
dropped a single into shallow right field to plate two teammates for a 2-0 WKU lead.
Engelhardt went on to induce a run down that allowed Carter to score from third
before Taylor Proctor got a piece of one for her seventh double of the season for a
4-0 Hilltopper lead.

After holding EKU scoreless in the bottom of the first, the Colonels returned the
favor to open the second. EKU went on to cut the Hilltoppers lead in half by the end
of the third inning before the hosts put up five runs in the bottom of the fourth.

WKU struck back in the top of the sixth when they loaded the bases with one out.
After Vaughn reached on a single and Proctor got on board via a hit by pitch,
McElroy drew a walk to load the bases. Gray stepped up to the plate and knocked a
single down the left field line for an RBI. Kelsey McGuffin went on to reach on a
fielder’s choice as everyone advanced safely to pull the Hilltoppers within one at
7-6.

EKU, however, wasn’t finished offensively. The Colonels plated four more runners in
the bottom of the sixth inning to extend their lead to five at 11-6.

Carter led off the top of the seventh with a single through the left side in an
attempt to spark a WKU comeback. Two batters later, Engelhardt worked a walk to move
Carter into scoring position before Proctor advanced her teammates 60 feet on a
groundout. The Hilltopper comeback would be halted there though as WKU took the 11-6
loss to EKU.

“We were able to get runners on base and battle back multiple times in that second
game,” Tudor shared. “I know there is fight left in this team and my challenge to
them is to win the fight.”

All four WKU pitchers made appearances in the second game as Kelsey Aikey got the
start and gave way to Haylee Towers after 2.1 innings of work. Towers would work
from the circle for nearly two innings before Cassidy Blackford tossed 1.1 innings.
Downing was called upon to close things out in the bottom of the sixth, recording
the final two outs. The WKU pitching staff did not allow any extra base hits by the
Colonels on the day.

Towers ultimately took the loss, moving to 6-12 as she made her 23rd appearance of
the season.

Taking her 23rd hit by pitch of the season in the top of the sixth inning, Proctor
is now one free base away from tying for the WKU single-season record and owns sole
possession of third on that list. Additionally, the second-year Hilltopper catcher
moved into a tie for second on the program’s career list as the tally moved Proctor
to 42.

With the regular season in the books, the Hilltoppers will take their scheduled bye
weekend in Conference USA action as the rest of the league wraps up the regular
season. Already a lock in the final eight teams standing, WKU will begin C-USA
Tournament action on Wednesday, May 10, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Seeding is
still to be determined as the Hilltoppers can still claim seeds 6-8.

How to Follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Softball, follow the
team on Twitter at @WKUSoftball, Instagram @WKU_Softball and Facebook @WKUSoftball.

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