BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Freshman pitcher Kennedy Sullivan delivered 16 strikeouts in a
complete-game, three-hit shutout as WKU Softball won its opening game of the
Hilltopper Classic over Butler, 3-0. In the day’s second victory, the Hilltoppers
posted their third come-from-behind win of the season after scoring eight runs in
the bottom of the sixth to seal a 10-3 decision over Cleveland State. WKU improved
to 8-2 on the season with the day one sweep of the Hilltopper Classic.
“Kennedy had a great day on the mound,” head coach Amy Tudor opened. “Anytime you
can strike out 16 batters you are dealing from the circle. She set the precedent and
we scored enough runs to win that ball game. Game one was fantastic while the second
game was overall a great team effort. We saw a lot of fight and it was one of the
most fun games I’ve coached here.”
Not only did Sullivan deliver in the circle, she came up clutch in the batter’s box
as well with a 3-for-6 day at the plate including a double and three RBI. Joining
her with three hits was redshirt-senior Shannon Plese, who went 3-for-7 with a
double while going 3-for-3 in stolen base attempts. Catcher Kendall Smith joined
Sullivan with a trio of RBI across the day’s play.
HILLTOPPER CLASSIC SCHEDULE (TOURNAMENT CENTRAL)
Sunday, Feb. 24 – Butler def. Indiana State, 6-4
Sunday, Feb. 24 – WKU def. Butler, 3-0
Sunday, Feb. 24 – Indiana State def. Cleveland State, 3-0
Sunday, Feb. 24 – WKU def. Cleveland State, 10-3
Monday, Feb. 25 – Cleveland State (H) vs. Butler (A) – 10 a.m. CT
Monday, Feb. 25 – Indiana State (H) vs. Butler (A) – Noon CT
Monday, Feb. 25 – WKU (H) vs. Cleveland State (A) – 2 p.m. CT
Monday, Feb. 25 – WKU (H) vs. Indiana (A) – 4 p.m. CT
Sullivan (6-0) was dealing from the start, sitting down the first seven batters she
faced via strikeouts before allowing a walk. The Georgetown, Ky., native continued
her no-hit bid all the way into the top of the sixth before the Butler batter was
able to beat out an infield single. Sullivan gave up the Bulldogs’ second and third
hits of the game in the top of the seventh but with the faces loaded forced a
fielder’s choice at home and a groundout to short stop to conclude her second
complete-game shutout of the season – her third complete game overall.
Seven different Hilltoppers combined for the squad’s eight hits in the tilt with
Rebekah Engelhardt leading the way with her second multi-hit game of the season.
WKU got the scoring started in the bottom of the second after Morgan McElroy and
Engelhardt each reached base on singles before Maddie Bowlds delivered a single to
centerfield to score both. Kendall Smith accounted for WKU’s third run after she
connected for her team-best fourth home run of the season.
GAME 10: WKU 10, CLEVELAND STATE 3
Cleveland State logged a lead-off home run to open the Hilltoppers’ second game of
the day. The Vikings added to their lead in the top of the third to go ahead 3-0.
With two outs in the bottom of the third, Sullivan beat out an infield single before
Jordan Thomas sent a shot to the right-center wall for a standing triple, cutting
into CSU’s advantage.
Shannon Plese led off the bottom of the fourth with a base hit to right field before
swiping second base during Smith’s at bat. Two pitches later, Smith singled bringing
her teammate around to score and make the Hilltoppers’ deficit just a single tally.
After a scoreless fifth frame, WKU returned to the plate and proceeded to send 13
batters to the box while scoring eight runs. Jordan Vorbrink kicked things off with
a single to shortstop before Morgan McElroy reached on a fielder’s choice that
resulted in no outs while Engelhardt walked to load the bases. Jordan Ridge stepped
into the box and sent a single through the rightside of the infield to knot the game
at 3-3. Next up, Sullivan sent a double into the gap to empty the bases and give WKU
the lead for good.
“I think our plate approaches changed, we started making adjustments,” Tudor said of
the big sixth inning. “I felt like once we started squaring a couple balls up we
just started to pass the bat and everybody got into their groove. Our pinch hitters
also did a great job of coming through and that was clutch and helped build
Paige Carter and Tommi Stowers both reached base during their pinch hit at bats in
the bottom of the sixth while Engelhardt was the lone Hilltopper to reach base twice
in the frame with two of her three walks.
Shelby Nunn picked up her first decision of the 2019 season after tossing 4.0
shutout innings and allowing just two hits while striking out four.
“Nunn came in and did a great job on the mound,” Tudor continued. “She gets a lot of
swing and misses and induces a lot of ground balls so we know what we need to do
behind her defensively. Shelby came in and was ready and it’s a good win for her.”
Plese, Vorbrink and Sullivan all registered multi-hit performances in the outing.
Smith and Sullivan each recorded multi-RBI showings as well.
NEXT GAME: WKU Softball will conclude play in the weather-adjusted Hilltopper
Classic on Monday afternoon. At 2 p.m. the Red and White will take on Cleveland
State again before closing play with a tilt against Indiana State around 4 p.m.