BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — After opening the day with its longest game of the season in the form of a nine-inning, one-run loss to UAB, WKU Softball turned things around using an abundance of offense for a 7-3 game-two victory to split the day’s doubleheader. WKU took the 1-0 loss in the first game before evening the Conference USA cross-division series at 1-1.
“We didn’t have enough run support in game one but the team responded well from the start in game two and put together some key at bats that produced several runs,” head coach Amy Tudor stated.
WKU continues to stay above the .500 mark on the season, improving to 20-19 (4-7 C-USA) on the year following the day’s results. UAB will enter Sunday’s tilt with a 12-21 (4-4 C-USA) mark overall.
GAME 38: UAB 1, WKU 0
In the longest game this season for both teams, one run would determine the outcome as UAB tallied the lone score in the top of the ninth inning. With three chances at the plate in the bottom of the frame, the Hilltoppers couldn’t get anything going and fell in the decision.
Kathryn Downing pitched all but two pitches of the game, tossing 147 pitches in the contest. The senior registered a career-best eight punchouts before allowing the lone run of the game on a solo home run. Kelsey Aikey then came in and induced a second-pitch ground out to limit the damage and get the Hilltoppers back to the dugout. However, WKU would go down in order in the bottom of the ninth inning to drop the decision.
“I thought Kat Downing pitched a heck of a game today and had great command of all of her pitches,” Tudor said of her senior pitcher’s 8.2-inning performance.
WKU’s lone hit of the game came off the bat of Morgan McElroy in the bottom of the eighth inning. The freshman would end up being stranded on the base paths as one of four runners left on board for the Hilltoppers. The three other runners were all hit-by-pitch victims.
GAME 39: WKU 7, UAB 3
Brittany Vaughn ensured that the Hilltoppers wasted no time scoring in the second half of the day’s doubleheader. After Vaughn slide into first base head first to beat out a bunt single, the redshirt-senior would score on wild pitch two pitches later. Vaughn trucked around to third base and after an obstruction by one of the Blazers as she rounded third continued home for a 1-0 WKU lead during Paige Carter’s at bat. In the clean-up spot, Jordan Mauch stepped into the box with two outs and blasted a home run off of the second level of the parking structure going up in left field to double the Hilltopper lead.
Mauch’s knock was her team-leading 10th on her junior season with all but two of those being solo shots. The two-out homer was also her fourth of the sort on the year, as the other six have come with no outs.
UAB went on to cut the Red and White’s lead in half in the top of the third frame after the Blazers’ lead-off hitter got on board and was brought around to score. WKU got out of the bases loaded jam to avoid any further damage by the visitors.
In the next half inning, WKU got its run back plus one with the Hilltoppers managing all of their damage on two outs. Kara Brewer got things going after taking a hit by pitch and then advanced to second on a Mauch walk. Adarian Gray picked up a pair of RBI on a double off the wall in right-center field, scoring both runners for a 4-1 WKU advantage.
After sending the Blazers back to the dugout in order in the top of the fourth inning, the Hilltoppers got back to work offensively. Again working on two outs, Taylor Proctor got on board with her team-leading 17th hit by pitch of the season. Vaughn went on to score Proctor all the way from first with a double off the wall in centerfield and advanced to third herself on the throw home. Carter would pick up her first of two hits in the game in the form of a single to score Vaughn for a 6-1 Hilltopper lead.
UAB cut into the WKU lead with a ball that left the yard straight down the left field line that exited just inside the foul pole to pull within three runs at 6-3. At that point, Kelsey Aikey’s day would be done in the circle and Haylee Towers made her first appearance of the day and forced a three-pitch flyout to send the WKU squad back to the dugout.
WKU would tack on one more run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Proctor singled to get on board but was thrown out as Vaughn reached on a fielder’s choice. Then, Carter would go on to single to right field and induce a five-throw run-down play, allowing Vaughn to score before getting tagged out. Carter’s second RBI of the game gave WKU its final 7-3 margin.
With Towers in the circle, the Hilltoppers would only allow one more UAB hit for the final 2.1 innings of the contest with came in the top of the final frame.
Aikey took the decision in the contest, pitching 4.2 innings and exiting with a 5-1 lead. The freshman improved to 4-3 on the season in the circle.
“In game two, I thought Aikey and Towers both threw well also,” Tudor continued. “It was great to see both of them throwing some quality innings while our defense contributed some great defensive plays.”
As the lead-off hitter in game two, Vaughn registered two hits along with reaching on a fielder’s choice and scored all three times while also contributing an RBI. In the two hole, Carter notched a 2-for-4 day at the dish as well, tallying a pair of RBI, which was matched by Gray.
Sat. 1 p.m. CT – UAB | L, 0-1 (9)
3 p.m. CT – UAB | W, 7-3
How to Follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Softball, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUSoftball, Instagram @WKU_Softball and Facebook @WKUSoftball.