STARKVILLE, Miss. — For the fifth-straight season, WKU Softball has opened a new season with a victory following today’s 4-1 win over Stephen F. Austin at the Bulldog Kickoff Classic. Head coach Amy Tudor also picked up another season-opener win and has yet to be beaten as a head coach in those contests. In the second game of the day, WKU fell to the Georgia State Panthers 13-1 in five innings.
“It was great to open the year with a win,” Tudor said. “I thought Kat [Downing] did a good job in the circle and I thought we played great defense behind her as well.”
GAME 1: WKU 4, STEPHEN F. AUSTIN 1
WKU got on the board in the opening half inning after Brittany Vaughn picked up a leadoff walk. Kara Brewer moved Vaughn into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. On the next pitch, Jordan Mauch dropped a double over the centerfielder’s head to plate Vaughn.
Senior pitcher Kathryn Downing worked from the circle, allowing just one hit over the next four innings. The Bowling Green, Kentucky, native struck out a pair during that stretch.
In the top of the fifth inning, the Hilltoppers scored the go-ahead run after an Adarian Gray double was followed by back-to-back walks by Taylor Proctor and Vaughn. Gray went on to touch the plate after an errant attempt to throw her out by the SFA pitcher.
The Hilltoppers added another run in both the sixth and seventh innings as Haylee Towers and Brewer each tallied a score.
Downing finished with 6.0 innings pitched, allowing just four hits and one run while registering a pair of strikeouts to pick up her first win of the season. Kelsey Aikey earned her first collegiate save, pitching the seventh inning and closing the book on the Ladyjacks with a swinging strikeout.
GAME 2: GEORGIA STATE 13, WKU 1
In the second game of the Bulldog Kickoff Classic, Georgia State opened up a 4-0 lead after the opening half inning. The Panthers went on to strike again in the third inning after Aikey relieved starter Haylee Towers in the circle. After three innings Georgia State own a 12-0 lead. Both sides added a run in the fifth inning to account for the final 13-1 score.
Kelsey McGuffin’s double put her in scoring position for the Hilltoppers. Two batters later, Tommi Stowers knocked a single to right field and brought McGuffin home for WKU’s run.
Towers was credited with the loss in the game but led the Hilltoppers on opening day with her bat, going 2-for-5 at the plate. The Johnston, Iowa, native is the first WKU player to record a multi-hit game in 2017.
“We’re still figuring out all of our parts having so many young players,” said Tudor. “Obviously we played a better game one than we did out there in game two, but our freshmen, especially [Kelsey] Aikey and [Haylee] Towers are having to carry a big load for us there in the circle and they are adjusting to that. Everyone had great moments today, now we’ve just got to work on piecing all of that together.”
WKU gets back on the diamond on Saturday with two more games. First up, the Hilltoppers will take on the host Bulldogs in a 12:30 p.m. CT game that will be streamed on the SEC Network+, which can be accessed with a cable subscriber login. The afternoon game will be determined by Friday and Saturday’s round-robin play. WKU could play a 3 p.m. or 5:30 p.m.
Game 1 | vs. Stephen F. Austin | W, 4-1
Game 2 | vs. Georgia State | L, 13-1
Saturday, Feb. 11 – 12:30 p.m. CT | at Mississippi State | Livestats | SEC Network+
Saturday, Feb. 11 – 3 or 5:30 p.m. CT | 1 vs. 4/2 vs. 3 | Check back for links
Sunday, Feb. 12 – 11 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. CT | Consolation or Championship | Check back for links
How to Follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Softball, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUSoftball, Instagram @WKU_Softball and Facebook @WKUSoftball.