BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – WKU Softball clinched its second-consecutive trip to the
Conference USA Championships next week in Charlotte, N.C., with a down-to-the-wire
1-0 victory over FIU to open Sunday’s doubleheader. Kelsey Aikey tossed a two-hit
gem and the Hilltoppers got all the offense they needed from an RBI base hit from
Kelsey McGuffin that scored Rebekah Engelhardt for the winning run. FIU won the
day’s second tilt, 4-1, to salvage a split and secure third place in the regular
“We have a lot of respect for FIU’s Shannon Saile and what she’s been able to do in
the circle and for us to beat her is a great day,” head coach Amy Tudor opened. “I
thought Kelsey Aikey showed up and won that battle for us today and was a big
difference maker for us.”
With the split, WKU improved to 27-25 on the season and 10-13 in C-USA action. FIU
moved to 30-24 overall and 14-8 in league play with the day’s results.
GAME 51: WKU 1, FIU 0
A pitchers’ duel from beginning to end, WKU hurler Kelsey Aikey (11-9) got the final
say as the Hilltoppers outlasted FIU in a 1-0 decision. The sophomore opened and
closed the game with a swinging strikeout and racked up three more punchouts in
between. Aikey allowed just two hits in her sixth complete game of the year – her
third complete-game shutout.
Maddie Bowlds put the Hilltoppers in the hit column in the bottom of the first with
an infield single before stealing second but ended up stranded. In FIU’s next trip
to the plate, the Panthers loaded the bases after an error and a pair of walks but
Aikey stranded the runners with a called strike out to get WKU back to the dugout.
WKU was retired in order in the bottom of the second before FIU opened the top of
the third with back-to-back infield singles for the Panthers’ only two hits of the
game. Brittany Vaughn handled popouts for the second and third outs of the game
which would start a string of 12-consecutive batters retired by Aikey and the
Rebekah Engelhardt opened the bottom of the fifth frame up with double off the fence
in straight-away center. Two batters later, Morgan McElroy moved Engelhardt to third
on a groundout to the right side. With a 0-2 count on her, Kelsey McGuffin connected
for a base hit that dropped into shallow left field to score Engelhardt to the only
run of the game.
The Hilltoppers would play shutdown defense the rest of the way to locked themselves
a spot in next week’s postseason action.
GAME 52: FIU 4, WKU 1
With the pressure off, WKU opened up a 1-0 advantage over the Panthers after the
first inning. Jordan Thomas opened the game with her second double of the day before
Bowlds moved her to third on a sacrifice bunt. Senior Brittany Vaughn followed with
a double to the right-center gap to plate Thomas before stealing third base. Vaughn
would end up stranded though.
In the circle for WKU, Shelby Nunn retired the first nine batters she faced with the
help of the Hilltopper defense, but the second time through the lineup FIU fought
back. To open the fourth, three of the first four Panthers to bat registered singles
before the visitors ended up scoring three runs on six base hits in the frame for
the 3-1 advantage.
Haylee Towers closed the final three innings in the circle for the Red and White.
The sophomore allowed just three hits with no walks while striking out one. One
unearned run scored in those three relief frames.
Bowlds accounted for two hits in game two after being moved back to the second spot
in the batting order. The freshman now has 10 multi-hit games on the year.
FIU added its final run in the top of the sixth for the 4-1 margin. The Panthers
outhit WKU 9-6 in the day’s second contest. Nunn took the loss moving to 15-14 on
With its first-game win over FIU, the Hilltoppers locked themselves into the eight
seed at next week’s Conference USA Softball Championship. The Red and White will
play No. 5 seed Marshall to kick off postseason action on Wednesday at 11 a.m. CT
from Charlotte, N.C.
* Jordan Thomas connected for a pair of doubles across the doubleheader and
is now tied for the single-season program record of 16 two-basers in a single
* With her 13th sacrifice hit of the season, Maddie Bowlds is now tied for
fifth-most in a single season by a Hilltopper.
* WKU’s game one win snapped a four-game skid against the Panthers. The
Hilltoppers are now 27-34 all-time against FIU including an 11-15 mark in Bowling