NORMAN, Okla. — After taking an early 1-0 lead over Northwestern State in the day’s second game, WKU Softball would ultimately use nine unanswered runs to pick up its sixth come-from-behind victory of the 2017. The No. 3 seeded Hilltoppers defeated second-seeded Northwestern State, 10-8, to move into Sunday’s Courtyard Marriott Tournament Championship game.
WKU tallied three homeruns in the victory over the Lady Demons after being one-hit by No. 9 Oklahoma in the final game of round robin play to start the day. Jordan Mauch and Brittany Vaughn both blasted their fifth homers of the season while Haylee Towers’ seventh-inning two-run shot was the decider in WKU’s win.
“I told the team that second game was pretty incredible,” WKU head coach Amy Tudor opened. “Almost down and out and Haylee [Towers] comes up and starts us off with the double as we end up batting through the order in that fifth inning. I feel like the momentum shifted at that point and from there we played shut-down defense.”
GAME 3: OKLAHOMA 9, WKU 0 (5)
Oklahoma got on the board in the bottom of the first inning despite the Hilltoppers getting a pair of quick outs in the frame. After a bit of small ball by the Sooners, Kathryn Downing picked up a swinging strikeout to get out of the inning.
WKU’s Taylor Proctor knocked a single down the right-field line in the top of the second inning but would end up stranded on the base path. That hit ended up being the lone hit for WKU in the tilt.
In the bottom of the third inning, OU picked up a couple more runs, again after the Hilltoppers registered two outs. The Sooners tacked on the remaining five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to account for the final 9-0 decision.
Downing took the loss in the circle, moving to 6-2 on the season.
GAME 4: WKU 10, NORTHWESTERN STATE 8
Jordan Mauch got the Hilltoppers on the board early in game two of the day with a two-out solo home run over the wall in centerfield. The homer marked Mauch’s team-leading fifth shot of the season and first of the weekend in Norman.
Not to be outdone, Northwestern State took advantage of a WKU error and scored a pair of unearned runs to take a 2-1 lead. The Lady Demons also tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the second inning and three more in the third for a 7-1 lead.
After NSU pushed its advantage to 8-1, Haylee Towers led off the top of the fifth inning by beating the throw into second base for a double down the leftfield line. After an Adarian Gray walk, Paige Carter took a pinch-hit walk two batters later to load the bags. Kara Brewer followed by beating out a single that didn’t leave the dirt which scored Towers (2-8). A couple batters later, Mauch singled through the left side to score both Carter and Gray to cut the lead in half. Brittany Vaughn followed with her first hit of the weekend, which was a double to the right field wall that scored Brewer. The Hilltoppers saw all nine batters make a plate appearance in the frame, cutting their deficit to 5-8.
WKU held the Lady Demons scoreless in the bottom of the fifth inning, send the NSU batters back to the dugout in order. In the top of the sixth, the Red and White continued to climb their way back, scoring two more runs to pull within one at 7-8. WKU loaded the bases with no outs in the frame before Brewer shot another single through the right side to score Towers. Stowers then reached on an RBI fielder’s choice scoring Gray to pull within one.
The Hilltoppers got out of a jam in the bottom of the sixth inning, holding the Lady Demons scoreless after walking a pair of batters with two outs.
Vaughn’s second hit of the game came in the top of the seventh inning, leaving the park as a lead-off solo home run to tie the game at 8-8. The very next pitch, Proctor took her second hit by pitch of the game to get on board with no outs. The pitch after that also left the ballpark off the bat of freshman Towers as her first career home run, giving WKU a 10-8 lead.
Needing three more outs to hold off the Lady Demons in the bottom of the seventh inning, Downing returned to the circle. The first batter was sent back to the dugout after ground out to Morgan McElroy at second base. Next, Northwestern State rattled off a pair of singles to put runners on first and second base. Downing registered her second and final strikeout of the contest on the next batter before the final batter grounded out to Vaughn at shortstop.
“This team is very resilient,” Tudor continued. “We’re wanting to play every inning and know that each one matters. We definitely took advantage of our opportunities. This is a close-knit team and I think that shows in games like this.”
After pitching 4.2 innings, Downing was rewarded with the victory, improving to 7-2 on her season campaign in the circle.
“In game two, Kat was in shut-down mode,” Tudor said. “That’s great coming out of the bullpen. I thought she did a great job with her senior leadership both on the field and off as well.”
With nine unanswered runs, WKU Softball secured its sixth come-from-behind victory on the season with the biggest comeback yet to climb to 11-7 on the season.
Friday: vs. Northwestern State | L, 0-8 (5)
vs. Evansville | W, 9-4
Saturday: at Oklahoma | L, 0-9 (5)
vs. Northwestern State | W, 10-8
Sunday: 1 p.m. CT | Championship | Norman, Okla. | Livestats
How to Follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Softball, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUSoftball, Instagram @WKU_Softball and Facebook @WKUSoftball.