MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – WKU Softball’s longest game of the season resulted in an
11-inning 6-4 victory at Middle Tennessee on Tuesday to secure the series sweep.
Kendall Smith delivered a three-run home run in her first trip to the plate for her
fourth homerun of the series before WKU produced three extra-inning runs to secure
its second extra-inning win of the season.
Kelsey Aikey locked down the final 7.1 innings en route to the win, including maneuvering
the Red and White out of a bases-loaded no-out situation in the eighth.
“In the inning with the bases loaded and no outs, I thought Kelsey Aikey showed her
toughness in the circle,” head coach Amy Tudor shared. “For our team to find ways to
score runs, we scored when we needed to. It wasn’t the prettiest but we showed a lot
of fight and I’m proud of the way we hung in there.”
WKU climbed to 33-9 on the season with its fourth series sweep in league play. In
Conference USA action, the Hilltoppers are now 15-3. Middle Tennessee is now 25-21
overall and 9-8 in conference play.
Jordan Thomas led off the series finale with a walk and Shannon Plese followed suit,
bringing Smith to the plate with one out. After a dropped foul ball by the Blue
Raiders, the Bowling Green native struck for her fourth home run of the series –
third of the three-run variety.
From the second through ninth innings, WKU’s offense would be held scoreless with
six hits scattered throughout the eight frames.
Kennedy Sullivan worked into the bottom of the fourth inning after drawing the
start. She exited with a line of three hits, two runs, three walks and a pair of
strikeouts and was responsible for a pair of runners on base. On the second pitch
Aikey threw after entering the game, she induced a groundout to Rebekah Engelhardt
at third base to get the Hilltoppers out of the inning with a 3-2 lead still intact.
Down to their final out in the bottom of the seventh Middle Tennessee came through
with an RBI single that knotted the contest at 4-4. With two MTSU runners still on
base, Aikey delivered her fifth strikeout of the game to send the Hilltoppers to
their third extra-inning tilt of the season.
Smith led off the eighth with a walk before being erased in a double play. With two
outs, Jordan Vorbrink registered her first hit of the day with a single but WKU
couldn’t add anything else.
MTSU drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the frame before a pair of fielding errors
loaded the bases with the game tied at 3-3. Aikey turned around and delivered a
four-pitch strikeout for the first out. With a full count on the next batter,
Shannon Plese handled a shallow flyout to keep the MTSU runners in place. Aikey went
on to strike out the next batter to keep the hosts out of the score column and get
the Hilltoppers out of a bases-loaded no outs jam and send the game to the ninth.
In the ninth, both dugouts recorded a hit as WKU stranded Maddie Bowlds on base and
a pair of Blue Raiders ended up stranded after Vorbrink gunned down a runner at the
plate attempting to score from second on a shallow base hit.
Plese led off the 10th with a double before Smith drew an intentional walk. From
there, Sullivan sent a foul ball deep to the right field corner that MTSU caught but
allowed Plese to move into third base. During Vorbrink’s at bat, heads up base
running by the Hilltoppers allowed Plese to score on a wild pitch for a 4-3 lead.
With MTSU down to their final out again in the 10th, the Blue Raiders struck for an
RBI double to knot the game back up at 4-4. With runners on first and second, Aikey
induced a flyout to Plese in centerfield to send the Hilltoppers back to the plate.
With one away in the frame, Bowlds accepted a five-pitch walk. From there, Kelsey
McGuffin stepped into the box for a pinch-hit appearance and delivered a double to
right field that allowed Bowlds to advance to third base. With two runners in
scoring position, Paige Carter dropped a sacrifice bunt that allowed Bowlds to score
the go-ahead tally while reaching base safely herself after a throwing error by
MTSU. WKU’s next batter, Plese delivered a productive out in the form of an
RBI-groundout to second base, which allowed McGuffin to score for a 6-4 Hilltopper
Heading to the bottom of the 11th with a two-run lead looking for three outs, Aikey
and the Hilltopper defense needed just five pitches to get the first two outs – a
flyout to Plese and a foul popout to Smith behind the plate. After MTSU broke
through with a single, WKU’s middle infielders teamed up for a force out at second
to end the game.
“I think that’s a special part of this program; we’re fights – we’re going to fight
every single pitch,” Kelsey McGuffin shared.
Aikey earned the win in the circle after a 7.1-inning relief appearance and now sits
at 12-6 on the season. The junior registered eight strikeouts while allowing just
four hits, two runs and nine walks.
Morgan McElroy and Bowlds each delivered multi-hit games, accounting for four of the
Hilltoppers’ nine hits in the outing. WKU’s batters drew nine walks led by three to
WKU left 11 runners on base while the Hilltopper defense stranded 18 Blue Raider
runners on board. Fifteen of those MTSU runners came on Aikey’s watch.
Next game: Due to the rescheduling of WKU’s series against Middle Tennessee, the
previously slated doubleheader against Austin Peay on Wednesday has been postponed
with no date set yet. The Red and White will head to Ruston, La., this weekend for a
Saturday-Sunday series against Louisiana Tech.