BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – Day two of the 2018 season saw 20 combined RBI and 27 total
runs as WKU needed just five innings to take down Youngstown State 17-6 and sixth
innings to collect a run-rule walk off over Hampton, 10-2. The Hilltoppers have
opened the season with a 3-1 record with one game remaining on the slate for Sunday.
“Our run production has been really impressive so far,” head coach Amy Tudor shared.
“We are getting a lot of contributions from a variety of players in a lot of
different ways. Defensively, we had two mishaps but made some phenomenal plays as
well. It didn’t hurt us because had ample run support. Shelby Nunn showed a few
different look from the mound today, which resulted in more strikeouts – she was
With four triples in four games already in 2018, WKU Softball has already surpassed
its total of three from last season. The Hilltoppers have also notched four home
runs so far, with a pair off the bat of Kelsey McGuffin. WKU’s collective team
batting average has climbed to .365 with 46 hits – 18 for extra bases – on the young
Friday, Feb. 9 – 11 a.m. CT | vs. Hampton | W, 7-6 (8)
Friday, Feb. 9 – 3 p.m. CT | at Gardner-Webb | L, 5-4
Saturday, Feb. 10 – 9 a.m. CT | vs. Youngstown State | W, 17-6 (6)
Saturday, Feb. 10 – 11 a.m. CT | vs. Hampton | W, 10-2 (6)
GAME 3: WKU 17, YOUNGSTOWN STATE 6 (5 innings)
As the visitors on the scoreboard for the third-straight game, the Red and White
struck first and never trailed in their five-inning rout of Youngstown State. Jordan
Thomas opened the game with WKU’s first hit-by-pitch of the season and has yet to
record an at bat in the leadoff spot after collecting walks in both of Friday’s
opening plate appearances. Thomas went on to steal second and advanced to third as
Maddie Bowlds reached base on an infield error. Paige Carter subbed in for Bowlds –
who left the game with a foot injury – and proceeded to steal second. Two batters
later, Kendall Smith sent her first collegiate home run well over the left-field
fence to give WKU a 3-0 advantage.
Youngstown State was able to get a pair of runners on board in the bottom of the
frame but the WKU defense took care of business to get the squad back to the dugout.
Carter picked up her first of three RBI in the contest in her first plate appearance
with a two-out single that scored Tommi Stowers. After Carter stole second a wild
pitch plated Morgan McElroy from third to push WKU’s lead to 5-0.
WKU sent 11 batters to the plate in the top of the third frame to put the game out
of reach. In total, the Hilltoppers scored seven runs on three hits and four errors
in the inning. Carter notched a triple that plated Jordan Vorbrink and Rebekah
Engelhardt followed with a sacrifice fly that plated Carter.
A two-run home run by the Penguins in the bottom of the frame cut WKU’s lead to 12-2
but the Hilltoppers one-upped YSU the next time at the plate with three more runs.
Vorbrink put a tally in the hit column with an RBI double to the wall bringing
McGuffin around to score. Thomas and Carter each added RBI singles to push WKU’s
lead up to 15-2.
Youngstown State added another tally in the bottom of the fourth to make the score
15-3 but WKU struck back again in the next frame for a 14-run advantage at 17-3. The
Penguins were able to add three more runs in the bottom of the fifth before WKU
closed the book.
WKU’s 11-run margin of victory marked its largest since the 2015 season in an 11-0
run-rule win over FIU.
Haylee Towers went 2.1 innings in the circle and left with the lead but didn’t pitch
the 3.0 required innings for the decision. Towers finished with three strikeouts
against four hits and a pair of earned runs. Shelby Nunn took the decision with 1.2
innings tossed in the game including a pair of strikeouts. Cassidy Blackford closed
the day in the circle for WKU taking care of the final inning with two punch outs of
GAME 4: WKU 10, HAMPTON 2 (6 innings)
The Hilltoppers grabbed another shortened-game win in the day’s second tilt. A
run-rule walk off, WKU took down Hampton for the second-straight day in a 10-2
Holding the Pirates scoreless in all but the top of the fifth frame, WKU broke the
scoreless tie in the bottom of the third exploding for five runs. Vorbrink opened
the frame with a double before advancing to third on a single by Thomas. After
Thomas stole second, a single by Carter scored Vorbrink and moved Thomas to third.
Two batters later, Smith knocked an RBI single and advanced to second on the throw
home as Thomas scored. Keeping the ball rolling, Brittany Vaughn sent a two-RBI hit
to the outfield before Stowers singled through the left side to plate Vaughn.
Scoring at least a run in each of the remaining innings, WKU pushed ahead to 7-0
after four innings thanks to a sacrifice fly by Carter and home run off McGuffin’s
bat. Hampton plated a pair to open the fifth frame, cutting the lead back to five,
but WKU once again responded with a couple tallies.
Engelhardt opened the bottom of the fifth with a single before Stowers stepped u p
and knocked a triple to score the runner. McElroy followed with a single to bring
Stowers home and push the lead back to seven.
After holding Hampton scoreless in the top of the sixth, Smith drew a lead-off walk
and was replaced on the bases with Blackford. Two at bats later, Blackford stole
second to move into scoring position. In the box, Stowers sent a fly ball high in
the infield towards the third base side that would ultimately end up landing on the
ground allowing Blackford to score from 120 feet away to end the game.
Stowers has had WKU’s first walk-off hit of the season in both 2017 and 2018 now.
Nunn went the distance in the circle, tossing a gem. The freshman carried a
no-hitter into the top of the fifth frame before the Pirates broke it up. Nunn
finished with 11 strikeouts in 6.0 innings pitched – more than any Hilltopper
pitcher had in any outing last season. Collecting every decision for the Red and
White so far Nunn is now 3-1 on her debut campaign.
GAME 1: WKU 7, HAMPTON 6 (8 innings)
Jordan Thomas kicked off the 2018 season with a free base to set up an RBI double by
Maddie Bowlds to put WKU on the board first in its season opener. Kelsey McGuffin
picked up the Hilltoppers’ second hit of the frame before the Red and White headed
out to the field with a 1-0 advantage.
Second-inning action opened with a Rebekah Engelhardt double before Morgan McElroy
dropped a sacrifice bunt to advance Engelhardt to third. With Jordan Vorbrink
ultimately reaching on an error, Engelhardt came around to score and double WKU’s
lead to 2-0. Already back at the top of the lineup, Thomas dropped in a double to
plate Vorbrink. Bowlds followed with her second extra-base hit of the day in the
form of an RBI triple to extend WKU’s advantage to 4-0.
Engelhardt picked up her second extra-base knock of the game with a two-out home run
over the left-center fence for her first long ball of the season and sixth of her
career. Hampton responded in the bottom of the third with a three-run home run to
right field to cut the Tops’ lead to 5-3.
WKU countered in the top of the fourth on a two-out Brittany Vaughn RBI single that
plated Bowlds to push the Red and White’s advantage back to three runs.
Hampton evened the score in the bottom of the seventh following three hits, an error
and a wild pitch. With runners on first and second with just one out, WKU got out of
trouble after Kendall Smith fielded a ball from behind the plate and fired to Vaughn
at second who threw over to Bowlds at first to turn the Hilltoppers’ first double
play of the season.
Heading to extra innings to open the season, Engelhardt began on second base with
the international tiebreaker rule in place. On the first pitch of the inning,
Engelhardt headed to third thanks to a wild pitch. With one down, Vorbrink stepped
into the box and made contact with the first pitch she saw for a fielder’s choice
that plated the winning run in Engelhardt.
In need of three outs, WKU opted for a pitchout to open the frame which resulted in
a Smith to McElroy to Vaughn pick off for the opening out. Two pitches later,
Engelhardt handled a rocket for the second out before Shelby Nunn took care of the
final batter with a strikeout.
Haylee Towers got the start and worked from the circle into the top of the fourth
inning, registering a pair of strikeouts before being relieved by Kelsey Aikey.
Aikey went on to toss the next three innings racking up five punch outs of her own.
Nunn came in in the bottom of the seventh inning and worked the final two frames to
pick up her first win in her collegiate debut.
In her collegiate debut, Bowlds opened the game 4-for-4 before getting called out in
her fifth at bat for stepping out of the batting box while making contact.
GAME 2: GARDNER-WEBB 5, WKU 4
WKU’s second contest of the day was a back-and-forth affair that saw four lead
changes in all. Taking on the weekend host, Gardner-Webb, the Hilltoppers got on the
board first in the top of the second after McGuffin got things going with a leadoff
double – her third extra-base hit of the day. McGuffin advanced to third on a
groundout by Engelhardt before crossing the plate as McElroy extended the inning by
reaching on an error.
Bowlds continued her scorching streak at the plate with her sixth hit of the day in
the top of the third and proceeded to steal second base during the next at bat
before Smith knocked a double to right-center field bringing her fellow freshman
Gardner-Webb retaliated in the bottom of the third by plating a trio of two-out runs
to take a 3-2 lead into the fourth.
After scoreless frames in the fourth and fifth, WKU struck again in the top of the
sixth inning. Engelhardt got things started with a single and Tommi Stowers followed
with another single, moving Engelhardt into scoring position. McElroy followed up by
reaching on an error to load the bags before Vorbrink stepped up for her second
go-ahead hit of the day. The Louisville transfer’s single brought Engelhardt and
Stowers around to score to give WKU the 4-3 advantage.
The hosts responded again, plating two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Gardner-Webb used three hits, including a double, to do its damage in the frame to
regain a 5-4 lead.
In the top of the seventh, Vaughn got on base to represent the tying run after
lining a one-out single to left field but ended up stranded at first.
Nunn went the distance for a complete game and took the loss to move to 1-1 on the
season in the circle. The freshman notched four strikeouts against zero walks in the
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