MIAMI – For just the third time in program history – and the first time since 2013 –
WKU Softball went to Miami and swept FIU in a conference series. The Hilltoppers
were led by a three-hit performance by senior Jordan Vorbrink before Kelsey Aikey
came in clutch and locked down her fourth save of the season.
“Anytime you go win on the road, it’s a good day,” head coach Amy Tudor opened.
“Anytime you can win all three games, it shows you have a solid team that can play
against a lot of different people. We got a lot of different looks and had a lot of
people step up this series. Jordan Vorbrink went and had a day at the plate today;
both her and Shannon Plese both did a great job all weekend hitting.”
With the squad’s first Conference USA series sweep since 2017, the Hilltoppers
opened league play a perfect 3-0 while improving to 18-5 overall. FIU dropped to
17-12 (0-3 C-USA) after the losses.
Across the series, Shannon Plese went 6-for-10 with five RBI while Jordan Vorbrink
finished 3-for-5 with a double and home run.
“Offensively we continued to execute in all aspects of the game today,” said Tudor
of the team’s hitting. “The entire series, I thought we saw the ball well and got
timely hitting when we needed it.
WKU struck first again in Sunday’s series finale as the Hilltoppers opened the
scoring with a run in the top of the third. Jordan Vorbrink led things off with the
Hilltoppers’ second hit – and double – of the game. After the senior moved to third
on a groundout, Jordan Thomas brought her home with another WKU double. Shannon
Plese drew a walk but both runners would end up stranded.
While the Panthers would make a game out of the finale, WKU improved to 15-2 when
scoring first on the season.
FIU led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a double but Kennedy Sullivan
responded and struck out the next two Panthers before inducing a foul flyout to
Vorbrink at first to get the Hilltoppers back to the dugout unscathed.
In their next trip to the plate, WKU sent six batters to the plate to add two more
runs. Vorbrink opened things with a single to centerfield before Jordan Ridge came
in to run for her. In the next at bat, Taylor Davis reached on an error before a
groundout by Thomas moved both runners into scoring position. From there, Plese sent
an RBI single past the FIU shortstop before a double steal saw her slide safely into
second and Taylor Davis beat the tag at home for a 3-0 WKU advantage.
WKU kept at it in the sixth frame, adding two more runs after Vorbrink connected for
her first home run of the season and third hit of the game to push the lead to 5-0.
Not going away, FIU returned to offense and would face three Hilltopper pitchers in
the bottom of the sixth. After the Panthers pulled within one at 5-4, the Red and
White would make their final call to the bullpen for Aikey.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth and a one run lead,
Aikey did what she does best and shut down the opposing offense. Needing just one
out to get the Hilltoppers back to the dugout, FIU first struck for a single and a
walk before Aikey induced a popup to McElroy at shortstop for the third out.
After the Hilltoppers saw a runner gunned down at home trying to add an insurance
run, Aikey returned to the circle to close it out. The junior forced FIU into a pair
of popouts before a walk and a base hit put the winning run on board. At that point,
Aikey needed just four pitches – three swinging strikes – for a strikeout to end the
game and secure the Hilltopper series sweep.
Sullivan picked up the victory in the circle to improve to 12-2 overall and 2-0 in
league play. The freshman worked 5.1 innings with six strikeouts before giving way
to Shelby Nunn. After Nunn helped the Hilltoppers to their second out in the bottom
of the sixth, Aikey took over to close things out while locking down her fourth save
of the season.
“Kennedy Sullivan had another good day in the circle; not giving up a run until the
sixth inning,” shared Tudor. “After we gave up a couple more runs, Kelsey Aikey came
in and shut the door. She does such a good job of closing games and really has that
mentality. I thought overall our pitching staff did a good job today.”
Aikey continues to add to her career saves school record as the junior now owns 10.
Her two weekend relief appearances also pushed her to 45 in her career – another WKU
NEXT GAME: Before it’s next Conference USA series, WKU Softball will take a midweek
trip to Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday closing out a 12-game road stretch.