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WKU softball beats Western Illinois in Hilltopper Classic

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Day two of the Holiday Inn Hilltopper Classic from the WKU Softball Complex opened with a bang, as a pair of Red and White home runs gave WKU all it needed to take down Western Illinois, 4-1. Game two of the day saw another ball knocked out of the park, but the Hilltoppers ultimately dropped the decision to Miami (OH) 3-1 to split the day and the weekend.

Numerous Hilltoppers heated up at the plate over the weekend as six homers were sent over the fence across the two days with Jordan Mauch leading the charge with a pair of four-basers. Adarian Gray, Taylor Proctor, Tommi Stowers and Brittany Vaughn also got in on the action.

“I felt like in some of our at-bats this weekend that we squared the ball up really well and we were swinging at pitches that were our pitches and not the pitcher’s pitches,” opened head coach Amy Tudor. “The ball really flew this weekend but I thought we hit some pretty hard shots at times.”

GAME 3: WKU 4, WESTERN ILLINOIS 1

After a pair of scoreless innings by both dugouts, Western Illinois got on the board for a 1-0 lead in the top of the third frame. With the help of a couple of stellar defensive stops by Rebekah Engelhardt at second base, the Hilltoppers escaped the inning allowing minimal Leatherneck damage.

Western Illinois’ offensive output would be limited to just the single run as Kathryn Downing threw her fourth complete game of the season, picking up the 4-1 victory to move to 4-0 on the season. The senior also posted a new career-high strikeout tally, sending seven batters back to the dugout in the contest.

WKU recorded three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, to again match it most runs scored in a single inning this season. Stowers opened the scoring by continuing her weekend tear, as she sent her first career homerun out of the park to knot the game at 1-1 after facing a 0-2 count.

Junior Jordan Mauch followed suit with a two-run homer to right field that also scored Haylee Towers to put the Hilltoppers up for good. Vaughn’s double off the centerfield wall scored Towers from second base in the bottom of the sixth inning to account for the final run in the 4-1 victory.

GAME 4: MIAMI (OH) 3, WKU 1

After defeating Western Illinois for the fifth time in as many meetings in WKU Softball history, the Hilltoppers earned the No. 2 seed in the weekend tournament, which pitted them against Miami (OH) for Sunday’s final game. Hardly one day after a Stowers walk-off hit gave the Red and White the victory over the RedHawks, WKU got to face the defending MAC champions again.

A slow start followed the pattern of the previous meeting, as the Hilltoppers let up Miami (OH)’s first run in the top of the second frame. Two more RedHawks would score in the top of the fourth inning before the Hilltoppers could get back to the dugout to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.

Down three runs to the visitors heading to the bottom of the fourth inning, Brittany Vaughn sent her second homer of the season over the left field wall. Additionally, the switch-hitting Bowling Green product knocked the homerun into the parking structure from the left side of the plate.

Miami (OH) threatened again in the sixth inning with two runners in scoring position and just one out, but Towers and Proctor combined for the double play after Towers caught a fly ball in left field and fired a bullet to Proctor to catch the runner attempting tag and score.

WKU wasn’t able to get much offense going after Vaughn’s longball and dropped the 3-1 decision to Miami (OH).

Kelsey Aikey pitched her first complete game, taking the loss on the day to move to 1-1 on the season.

“We’re still growing as a team,” Tudor started. “You obviously don’t want to peak after your first two tournaments in a season. Our pitchers are getting these innings under their belts, which is huge being young. Their ability to be able to deal with failure will be a big part of our success and I think they’ve all done a pretty good job of bouncing back on day two, no matter what the situation was; they’re pretty resilient.”

Sitting at 5-4 following the second weekend of play during the 2017 campaign, Hilltopper Softball is back in action at the WKU Softball Complex next weekend in the Holiday Inn Hilltopper Spring Fling, which starts on Thursday, Feb. 23.

RESULTS
Saturday, Feb. 18 – Miami (OH) defeated Western Illinois, 4-3
Saturday, Feb. 18 – Belmont defeated Western Illinois, 5-4
Saturday, Feb. 18 – WKU defeated Miami (OH), 7-6
Saturday, Feb. 18 – Belmont defeated WKU, 12-3 (6)

Sunday, Feb. 19 – Belmont defeated Miami (OH), 4-2
Sunday, Feb. 19 – WKU defeated Western Illinois, 4-1
Sunday, Feb. 19 – Belmont defeated Western Illinois, 8-7
Sunday, Feb. 19 – Miami (OH) defeated WKU, 3-1

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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