MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Led by two home runs off of the bat of freshman Adarian Gray, WKU Softball took down Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro, 3-0 in the squad’s 2017 Conference USA opener. Gray has now hit homers in her last three at bats. The victory also marked head coach Amy Tudor’s 100th victory at the helm of the WKU program.
“Today the bottom of our lineup did an excellent job at the plate,” Coach Tudor opened. “McGuffin hit a double and Pudge [Adarian Gray] drove her home with the two-run homer. At the same time, our defense was solid and Kat [Downing] controlled the circle.”
The Hilltoppers improve to 14-9 on the season with the victory over Middle Tennessee and have opened C-USA play with a 1-0 record. WKU has claimed the last three meetings over the Blue Raiders.
“I’m so proud of this team’s focus for this opener,” Tudor said. “We executed all parts of the game well and set the tone for what we are trying to do.”
Following a scoreless first inning by both sides, WKU Softball got on the board in the top of the second frame thanks to an Adarian Gray two-run shot over the left field fence. Prior to the long ball, Kelsey McGuffin stepped into the box with one out and sent the first pitch she saw out to the wall in right-center field for a standing double before advancing to third on a wild pitch during Morgan McElroy’s at bat before ultimately scoring on Gray’s home run.
WKU extended its lead to a 3-0 advantage in the top of the fourth inning when Gray crushed another home run in her third-consecutive at bat dating back to Thursday night’s sixth-inning grand slam. Three-consecutive home runs ties the third-best streak ever recorded in NCAA play.
“Pudge [Gray] is a gamer,” stated Tudor. “I could not be more proud of this kid and how much he has worked on the little things in her swing. The kid is a game changer. Both an incredible and very proud moment for her while helping the team win.”
In Gray’s third and final plate appearance of the game, the Blue Raiders walked the freshman, keeping the home run streak alive.
Five different Hilltoppers recorded hits in the outing with Gray leading the Red and White with a 2-for-2 showing. Kara Brewer, Tommi Stowers, Brittany Vaughn and McGuffin each added a tally in the hits column.
Getting the start in the circle for the conference-opener, Kathryn Downing carried a two-hitter through 4.2 innings before Middle Tennessee registered its other two hits on the day. The victory improved the senior to 8-2 on the year in the circle and was the fifth complete-game shutout Downing has pitched in her career.
Reflecting on her 100th win on The Hill as the WKU Softball head coach, Tudor shared, “I am very honored to be coaching at my alma mater, WKU, and am incredibly thankful for all the players that has made those wins possible.”
Games two and three of the conference-opening series will commence at noon CT and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Both games will be streamed live on CUSA.tv.
Saturday | Noon CT at Middle Tennessee | W, 3-0
Sunday | Noon CT at Middle Tennessee | Livestats | CUSA.tv
| 2 p.m. CT at Middle Tennessee | Livestats |CUSA.tv
How to Follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Softball, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUSoftball, Instagram @WKU_Softball and Facebook @WKUSoftball.