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WKU softball goes 4-1 in Hilltopper Spring Fling

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Suffering just one loss across four days of competition at the WKU Softball Complex during the Hilltopper Spring Fling, WKU finished weekend play with a 4-1 record. Across the five games of tournament play, the Hilltoppers registered eight home runs, including three in Sunday’s loss to Austin Peay. WKU dropped the tournament finale 10-6 to the visiting Governors.

WKU has now blasted a Conference USA-leading 15 home runs on the season, with all but one taking place at the WKU Softball Complex. With three early-season tournaments in the books, the Red and White now own a 9-6 record on the 2017 campaign.

“The entire weekend I felt like we were hitting the ball really well,” head coach Amy Tudor stated. “We’ve been able to stay in games with the long ball and that’s been the difference maker for us. I thought offensively every one of our kids made a great adjustment this weekend.”

After allowing Austin Peay to plate a runner in the top half of the opening frame, WKU followed suit as Tommi Stowers led off the inning with a home run shot to left-center field. The homer was the second of Stowers’ career.

In the top of the next frame, Austin Peay pulled back ahead, plating three more Governors to take a 4-1 lead in the contest.

WKU responded in the bottom of the third inning as Brittany Vaughn crushed a home run into the new parking structure for her fourth long ball of the season to cut the lead in half. Three Hilltoppers would end up stranded in the inning though.

Austin Peay added to the lead in the top of the fourth inning to regain its three-run advantage. However, the WKU bats caught fire in the bottom of the same frame and knotted the contest at 5-all. Haylee Towers started the offense with a double to centerfield before Vaughn stepped up to the plate and sent a single into the outfield and advanced to second on the throw to the plate that Towers beat. At that point, Jordan Mauch stepped up to the plate and knotted the game with a two-run shot to left-center field.

The Hilltoppers would take the lead for the first time in the game in the bottom of the fifth inning when Kara Brewer led off the frame with a walk. Brewer would ultimately score on a Paige Carter pinch-hit sacrifice fly, giving the Hilltoppers a 6-5 lead.

Scoring continued in the top of the sixth inning as Austin Peay responded with four runs of its own to take the lead for good. The Governors added on their final tally in the top of the seventh inning for the final 10-6 reading.

“I think our confidence in our own hitting is very high,” Tudor continued. “We can definitely improve that on the defensive side and look at shutting it down similarly to how we approach the plate – nice, easy, relaxed and loose – and defensively not get panicked or rushed.”

Towers took the decision in the circle, throwing 3.1 innings after relieving the starter, Kathryn Downing. With a career-high eight strikeouts during her work in the circle, Towers accounted for eight of the 10 outs recorded while she was pitching.

“I thought Haylee was hitting her spots a lot better today,” Tudor shared. “I really thought she was attacking the zone and attacking the hitter well. She looked more like the Haylee that I saw in high school. She’s continuing to get better with every game she pitches for us, she is continuing to prove that. I thought she did a great job striking out eight batters for a career high.”

Next on the slate for the WKU squad is the Courtyard Marriott Tournament hosted by the reigning national champion, Oklahoma, in Norman. Action will open on Friday, March 3, for the Hilltoppers with a doubleheader starting at 10 a.m. CT. Joining WKU in Norman will be Northwestern State, Evansville and the Sooners.

NOTES
– Tommi Stowers notched her second career home run when she led off the game with a shot over the left-center wall. Stowers’ homer was the first longball to open a game for WKU on the season.
– Three different WKU pitchers registered at least one strikeout in today’s game. Haylee Towers produced a career-high eight in the outing, which is also a season-best for the Hilltoppers.
– WKU hit eight homeruns on the weekend, spanning four games as six different plays knocked four-basers. Both Brittany Vaughn and Jordan Mauch each accounted for two tallies and are tied for the team-best of four home runs on the season.
– Brittany Vaughn and Jordan Mauch each sent a home run out of the park in the game. Both shots were the fourth of the season for each Hilltopper. All three home runs that WKU hit on the day came at a 2-2 count or later.

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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