NORMAN, Okla. — WKU pitcher Haylee Towers carried a one-hitter against No. 9 Oklahoma into the fifth inning of today’s tilt before the host Sooners tallied both of their runs in the bottom of the frame. A Tommi Stowers home run in the top of the seventh would get the Hilltoppers on the board at the OU Softball Complex, but concluded the day’s scoring.
WKU is just the third team to limit the reigning national champions to two runs or fewer in a loss and sixth team to achieve the feat in 2017.
“Today we tried to focus on changing our plate approach against Oklahoma while also making some adjustments in the circle,” head coach Amy Tudor opened. “I felt like we executed at the plate but I really think Haylee Towers pitched a fantastic game and made those adjustments as good as I could have asked for on the mound.”
Lead-off hitter Kara Brewer opened the day with a first-pitch single after beating out the ball that didn’t leave the infield. The junior followed by stealing second base during Jordan Mauch’s at-bat before the inning closed. In the bottom half of the frame, OU’s lead-off batter reached base but ended up over-sliding second base to be caught stealing.
In the top of the second inning, pitcher Haylee Towers knocked WKU’s second base hit of the contest with a well-placed single into right field. The knock was the freshman’s second-straight hit after registering the go-ahead home run in the seventh inning of the Tops’ previous game. Oklahoma’s lead-off hitter got on with a triple but would end up being caught stealing at home and OU wouldn’t get a batter closer than 60 feet from the plate for the rest of the frame.
Oklahoma advanced a runner all the way around to third base again in the bottom of the third frame with just one out but the Hilltoppers responded, inducing a groundout and popout to get out of the inning.
With nothing going in the top of the fourth frame, Towers got hot in the circle. After OU’s leadoff batter grounded out to McElroy at first base, Towers took matters into her own hands and registered a pair of looking strikeouts to close the frame.
Taylor Proctor posted a lead-off single in the top of the fifth inning for WKU’s third hit of the day. The Hilltoppers ultimately grounded into a double play two batters later to end the frame.
The Sooners ended the scoreless tie in the bottom half of the fifth inning despite WKU picking up a pair of quick outs. OU managed to load the bases and followed with a single that scored both of the inning’s runs before WKU threw out the runner from first trying to get to the opposite corner.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Oklahoma loaded the bases with two outs but Adarian Gray handled a ground ball and stepped on third base to get out of the jam.
Tommi Stowers would make sure that the Red and White didn’t go quietly, leading off the top of the seventh inning with a first-pitch home run to left-center field, cutting OU’s lead in half. However, the next there WKU batters would be retired in order to end the game.
“I told Tommi to swing to hit,” Tudor continued. “You’ve got to keep it simple as a hitter because it’s so difficult to hit elite pitching. Her line-drive homerun kept us in that ball game and that’s all you can ask for. She had a great weekend at the plate as well.”
Towers went the distance in the circle, registering her team-leading fifth complete game of the season. The WKU pitcher allowed just five Sooner hits on the day in six innings pitched.
“Obviously you want to win every game that you play,” Tudor stated. “I think we got better in every game that we played this weekend. That’s exactly what you want on day three – to be playing your best ball. I feel like we played some solid softball on day three.”
With regular-season tournaments concluded, WKU will host Bowling Green in a doubleheader on Wednesday before Ohio comes to town the following day.
Friday: vs. Northwestern State | L, 0-8 (5)
vs. Evansville | W, 9-4
Saturday: at No. 9 Oklahoma | L, 0-9 (5)
vs. Northwestern State | W, 10-8
Sunday: at No. 9 Oklahoma | L, 1-2
How to Follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Softball, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUSoftball, Instagram @WKU_Softball and Facebook @WKUSoftball.