MIAMI – Despite taking a 4-2 loss in its Conference USA regular-season finale to
FIU, WKU Softball has clinched a spot in the C-USA Tournament. After owning a
2-0 lead following their first trip to the plate, the Hilltoppers struggled to
sustain offensive power the rest of the way as the Panthers tallied four unanswered
“My plan today was to put some more lefties in the line up to face Saile’s curveball
and we were able to do a great job bunting, walking and finding a way on base,” head
coach Amy Tudor opened. “I was really proud that the team was able to put up two
runs early on them.”
WKU has clinched its first post-season appearance since the 2015 Hilltopper squad
won the C-USA Tournament. This marks the team’s second appearance in the league’s
tournament since joining prior to the 2015 campaign. Additionally, the Red and White
are now slated to appear in a conference post-season tournament for the 16th time
while head coach Amy Tudor is set to lead her third squad in four years on The Hill.
“Being as young as we are and trying to teach what we’re doing with just one player
on the team that’s been to the post-season before, it’s come down to the team
believing and working hard,” Tudor stated. “It’s been fun trying to figure out the
pieces to the puzzle. I’m proud of this team and really excited to see what we can
do moving forward.”
WKU’s first two batters of the day got on board and both came around to score before
the inning’s close. Kara Brewer led off with a walk before moving to third on a
Brittany Vaughn bunt that resulted in FIU’s first error of the frame. With both
Hilltoppers in scoring position, Jordan Mauch sent a one-out RBI single through the
left side for a 1-0 WKU lead. As Mauch stole second, she induced a throw down,
allowing Vaughn to steal home, beating the throw.
FIU struck back in the bottom of the first, plating a Panther on a sacrifice fly
that carried towards the foul line in left field. Kelsey Aikey recorded the first
two outs of the frame in the circle before Downing stepped into a two-on, two-out
situation and induced a fly out to centerfield.
In the bottom of the second, the Panthers plated three runs on two outs to grab the
lead from the Hilltoppers.
Kelsey McGuffin dropped a single into shallow left-center field in the top of the
sixth to bring Mauch to the plate with two down. The junior connected on a line
drive to right field that the FIU outfielder was able to catch up to.
Downing tossed the final 5.1 innings in the outing, moving to 14-12 on the year with
the decision. The senior struck out three Panther batters, two looking.
“I thought Kat [Downing] threw well all weekend and was able to keep their batters
off balance,” Tudor shared. “She did a good job and had a lot of fight and composure
on the mound, battling the wind.”
WKU will close out its regular season on Wednesday in Richmond, Kentucky, as the
Hilltoppers visit Eastern Kentucky for a doubleheader.
How to Follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Softball, follow the
team on Twitter at @WKUSoftball, Instagram @WKU_Softball and Facebook @WKUSoftball.