NORMAN, Okla. — A career day off the bat of freshman Tommi Stowers helped WKU Softball split the opening day of play at the Courtyard Marriott Tournament hosted by Oklahoma at the OU Softball Complex. Stowers went 5-for-6 at the plate on the day including a 5-for-5 performance to tie the program record for single game hits in WKU’s 9-4 victory over Evansville.
WKU Softball improved to 10-6 on the split-decision day and will take on defending national champion, Oklahoma, in Saturday’s opening tilt, which is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. CT.
“I felt like in game one that nothing was really clicking for us, but then in game two we fought back and made some great plate approaches while [Haylee] Towers threw great on the mound,” WKU head coach Amy Tudor stated. “Tommi had a heck of a day at the plate and we ran the bases well. That second game wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot closer and was much more fun to coach.”
“I think it’s telling of who we are, every inning matters, which is why we play seven innings,” Tudor said of WKU’s fifth come-from-behind win on the year.
GAME 1: NORTHWESTERN STATE 8, WKU 0 (5)
In the opening game of the Courtyard Marriott Tournament in Norman, Oklahoma, WKU Softball opened play with a lead-off hit by pitch as Kara Brewer got aboard early for the Hilltoppers. After stealing her fourth base of the season, Brewer would end up stranded on the base path, representing one of five runners left on the bags.
Heading into the top of the second inning scoreless, Northwestern State opened up a 6-0 lead before ultimately winning the 8-0 five-inning decision.
Kathryn Downing suffered her first loss of the season in the circle, moving to 6-1 in 2017. Both Kelsey Aikey and Cassidy Blackford also spent time in the circle in the contest. Blackford’s appearance was the first of her career as the redshirt-freshman’s career.
“After being injured last year, we’re looking for times to get Cassidy into games and get her some experience and more confidence on the mound,” Tudor said. “I thought she looked very good in today’s appearance, I was really proud of her.”
GAME 2: WKU 9, EVANSVILLE 4
After allowing a pair of Evansville runs in the bottom of the opening inning, WKU responded in the top of the third frame to take a 3-2 lead. A Kelsey McGuffin walk, followed by a Brewer hit by pitch brought Tommi Stowers to the plate, resulting in an RBI double to centerfield. Two batters later, Jordan Mauch stepped into the box and sent a single into right-center field to score both Brewer and Stowers.
The Hilltoppers added to their lead in the next inning as well with eight players making plate appearances in the frame. Rebekah Engelhardt got things going for WKU with an eight-pitch walk and proceeded to steal second and third base during Kelsey McGuffin’s at-bat. McGuffin ended up on first after taking a pitch to the elbow. Brewer followed by beating out a fielder’s choice sacrifice bunt that scored Engelhardt and put McGuffin on third. Before Stowers shot a double to right-center field, Brewer stole second and scored on Stowers’ knock. On the eight pitch of Mauch’s walk, the Evansville pitcher tossed the ball to the backstop, which resulted in Stowers posting the fourth run of the inning for a 7-2 WKU lead.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Purple Aces threatened with a pair of singles to lead off the frame, but an out on a sacrifice bunt followed by two swinging strikeouts by Haylee Towers resulted in a zero on the scoreboard.
Evansville trimmed WKU’s advantage to three in the bottom of the sixth inning but the Hilltoppers responded in the top of the seventh to take a 9-4 lead. WKU did all of its damage in the frame with two outs as Engelhardt got things going again for the Red and White with a single up the middle. McGuffin followed with her second hit by pitch on the day before Brewer stepped up to the plate and sent a single through the right side to score Engelhardt. McGuffin followed with a heads up steal of home to account for the final 9-4 score. Stowers closed out the WKU hitting with her school-record tying fifth hit of the day, sending a single through the left side.
“Today was huge for Tommi’s career,” Tudor shared. “That should give her a boast of confidence. Even watching her in batting practice, she was finding her rhythm and swing yesterday and that transferred over to today. She’s swinging at good pitches and has a lot of confidence right now.”
Haylee Towers went the distance in the circle for the Red and White, improving to 2-4 on her debut season. The freshman notched a new career-high nine strikeouts in her fourth complete game on the year.
Friday: vs. Northwestern State | L, 0-8 (5)
vs. Evansville | W, 9-4
Saturday: 12:30 p.m. CT at Oklahoma | Norman, Okla. | Livestats | SoonerTV | OU Radio
3:30 or 6 p.m. CT | 1 vs. 4 or 2 vs. 3 | Norman, Okla. | Livestats
Sunday: 10:30 a.m. or 1 p.m. CT | Consolation or 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.