BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — With its ninth come-from-behind victory on the year, WKU Softball used an extra inning 7-4 victory over Samford to win its fifth-consecutive game. After Samford took a 4-0 lead after three innings of play, the Hilltoppers started chipping away at the deficit, scoring in four of the final five innings of the game.
“I thought we were sharp in the circle today and as the game progressed we made solid adjustments at the plate,” head coach Amy Tudor stated. “We had some key walks along with some key hits and followed with some outstanding defensive plays that halted Samford’s momentum”
WKU matched its 2016 win total with today’s victory, improving to 17-9 on the season.
“The team’s attitude is fantastic and these wins have been a complete team effort,” Tudor said of the team matching the 2016 win total. “We compete in every inning and fight until the very end. That’s really something to be praised upon because we’re giving ourselves chances to win and our circle is keeping us in these ball games as well as our bats.”
”I’ve probably never had another team like this,” Tudor said of the nine come-from-behind victories. “They believe in each other and find a way to get to first base so that the next person can hit them in. This team makes big plays in big moments and that’s what matters; you want your players to turn on when the lights turn on. I feel like we’ve done that, even if it’s hasn’t always been the prettiest a win is a win.”
To open the game, the Hilltoppers were dealt four first-inning walks to open the game but came away scoreless. Samford got on the board in the bottom half of the frame with a pair of runs on an extra-base hit.
After Samford doubled its lead in the bottom of the third, WKU responded by getting on the board in the next frame. Brittany Vaughn led the inning off by getting hit by a pitch with Taylor Proctor following with a single that moved Vaughn to third. Haylee Towers, the next batter, sent a double down the left field line that allowed Vaughn to score and moved Proctor to third base. After registering two outs, Katie Johnson got hit by a pitch as well to load the bases for the second time of the game for the Hilltoppers.
WKU responded in the top of the sixth inning with two more runs to cut its deficit to just one tally at 3-4. Towers led off the frame with a well-placed double into the right field corner and Kelsey McGuffin took a hit by pitch to get on board. Both runners would advance a base on a wild pitch during Rebekah Engelhardt’s at bat and Towers went on to score on another wild pitch during Paige Carter’s pinch-hit appearance. Carter went on to single to center field to score McGuffin, which pulled the Hilltoppers within one.
“It was really important that the bottom of the order got on base today to help us turn over our lineup,” Tudor continued. “I thought that we did a pretty good job of that today.”
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Kathryn Downing took care of two of the Bulldog batters herself with a pair of swinging strikeouts to double her day’s total.
Jordan Mauch tied it up with a lead-off solo shot in the top of the seventh inning to account for the Hilltoppers’ fourth unanswered run. The blast over the 10-foot-high left field wall was Mauch’s sixth of the season, matching her total from the 2016 campaign.
In need of three outs to get another chance to bat, the Red and White delivered. McGuffin made a grab on the warning track before crashing into the outfield wall to get the first tally and the next two batters grounded out to Downing to send the game into extra innings.
Registering two quick outs in the top of the eighth inning, WKU went on to do all of its damage on its final thread. Tommi Stowers got on board with a walk and advanced to second on an illegal pitch during Mauch’s walk. Vaughn stepped into the box and sent a double to right-center field, scoring both Stowers and Mauch for a 6-4 lead. The Hilltoppers wouldn’t stop there, however, as Proctor sent a single into left field to score Vaughn from second base for the final 7-4 score.
“I thought Brittany and Jordan each had some extremely clutch performances,” said Tudor. “Jordan’s [home run] to keep us in the ball game and then Brittany’s double to put us ahead. Both of them had quality at bats, found a great pitch to hit and put a good swing on it.”
Downing opened the bottom of the frame with her fifth strikeout of the day before walking a Bulldog batter. At that point, Towers relieved Downing in the circle and induced a foul fly out to Brewer. The final out came when Towers kept the Samford batter guessing and came through with a full-count swinging strikeout.
Towers picked up her first save of the season in the outing after Downing went 7.1 innings to climb to 10-2 in the circle on the year.
Back in action tomorrow, the Hilltoppers are heading to Jacksonville State for a 4 p.m. contest to continue their spring break road trip.
Tuesday – 3 p.m. CT at Samford | Birmingham, Ala. | W, 7-4 (8)
Wednesday – 4 p.m. CT at Jacksonville State | Jacksonville, Ala. | Livestats
Thursday – 1 p.m. CT at Alabama A&M | Huntsville, Ala. | 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.