BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – For the first time since March 13, WKU Softball left the field
on the losing end of a decision as the Hilltoppers dropped a midweek tilt against
Louisville Wednesday night on The Hill. With an attendance of 877 on hand inside the
WKU Softball Complex as well as filtered into the parking structure, the Red and
White took the field in front of its largest crown – home or away – of the season.
WKU’s 7-2 loss to the Cardinals snapped the squad’s 11-game win streak.
“This was the biggest crowd we’ve had all year and we’re grateful to everyone for
coming out,” head coach Amy Tudor shared of the crowd. “Sometimes your environment
will dictate your play and I feel like today it did. We need to play the same
whether it’s a big crowd, small crowd, or the president’s here; it doesn’t matter.”
Despite the rare Hilltopper loss, moving the team to 26-6 on the season, WKU scored
at least one run for the 30th-consecutive game. The Red and White have been shut out
just once this season.
Louisville (23-13) struck in its opening trip to the plate for all the run support
the squad would end up needing as the Cardinals plated three each of the first to
Trailing 3-0 heading into the bottom of the first, Rebekah Engelhardt beat out an
infield single before the senior stole her first of two bases on the day. Already in
scoring position, Engelhardt would come around to score after Shannon Plese reached
on a throwing error that saw her end up on second.
While Plese reached base on the error, it did not count towards her 24-game reached
base streak due to the defensive mishap. Her team-best streak would come to an end
as the redshirt-senior was unable to find another way on board again.
After Louisville made the score 6-1 in the top of the second, former Cardinal and
current Hilltopper Jordan Vorbrink led off the bottom of the frame with a double to
the left-center gap. After a pair of popouts, Maddie Bowlds stepped in to the box
and followed Vorbrink’s lead with another double to the gap, trading places with the
senior for the squad’s second run of the day.
WKU would tally just one more hit in its final five trips to the plate in the form
of a Kendall Smith single. Engelhardt was the Hilltoppers’ final baserunner of the
game in the top of the fifth when she drew a walk and proceeded to steal her second
bag of the night, bringing her season total to 12.
Louisville added its final run in the top of the seventh in the form of a solo home
run for a 7-2 lead.
Kelsey Aikey drew the start and took the loss moving to 8-4 on the season after
allowing three runs – one earned – before an early exit. Kennedy Sullivan worked 5.2
innings of relief, striking out seven while allowing four runs and five hits. Shelby
Nunn tossed the final frame for the Hilltoppers and allowed just one hit and zero
Louisville outhit the Hilltoppers 7-4 in the contest in addition to drawing 10 free
bases off the WKU pitchers.
NEXT TIME OUT: The Hilltoppers will turn their focus back to Conference USA play as
the squad heads to Huntington, W.Va., this weekend for a three-game series at
Marshall. The Hilltoppers remain the lone unbeaten team in C-USA at 9-0 while the
Thundering Herd sits in fourth – second in the East Division – with a 6-3 record in
league play. Action will open with a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at noon CT
before wrapping up with an 11 a.m. tilt on Sunday.