WKU Softball extended its season-opening win streak to seven-consecutive campaigns with a five-inning run-rule victory over Missouri State. Head coach Amy Tudor moved to a perfect 15-0 in season-openers with the 8-0 win over the Bears to open the Sand Dollar Classic from Gulf Shores, Ala. Game two saw No. 17 Auburn return the favor with an 8-0, five-inning victory over the Red and White.
Friday, Feb. 8 – WKU def. Missouri State, 8-0  – Box Score
Friday, Feb. 8 – No. 17 Auburn def. WKU, 8-0  – Box Score
Saturday, Feb. 9 – 11 a.m. CT | vs. Florida A&M | Livestats
Saturday, Feb. 9 – 2 p.m. CT | vs. Tennessee State | Livestats
Sunday, Feb. 10 – 10 a.m. CT | vs. South Alabama | LivestatsInformation regarding the Gulf Shores Sportsplex, tickets, parking and more can be found on the tournament central site, available here.Game 1: WKU 8, Missouri State 0 
In her WKU debut, Kennedy Sullivan dealt a two-hit five-inning shutout for her first career victory. The freshman registered 11 punch outs – two looking – in the complete-game decision. Sullivan is the first freshman pitcher since at least 2008 to record double-digit strikeouts in their WKU debut.
“Kennedy Sullivan was solid in the circle for us,” head coach Amy Tudor opened. “She had great command of her pitches which was evident with her 11 strikeouts in five innings. Offensively, Thomas set the tone of the game which started our offense with a variety of people stepping up to produce for us.”
WKU wasted no time getting on the board, scoring five runs in their first trip to the plate of the season. Rebekah Engelhardt drew a bases-loaded walk to bring in the opening run before Kendall Smith reached on an error, moving all the way to third base while clearing the bases for a 4-0 Hilltopper advantage. During the following at bat, Smith scored on a wild pitch to push the lead to 5-0.
Two innings later, Engelhardt launched WKU’s first home run of the season to straight-away center, pushing the Hilltoppers’ lead to 6-0.
In the top of the fifth, Engelhardt beat out a bunt single and advanced to second base on a throwing error. Two batters later, Taylor Davis connected for an RBI pinch-hit single while advancing into scoring position on the throw. Jordan Vorbrink followed with a base hit to score Davis for the 8-0 Hilltopper lead.
Jordan Thomas continued her leadoff dominance, reaching in both of her leadoff appearances – once by single and the other via a walk.
Game 2: No. 17 Auburn 8, WKU 0 
The Hilltoppers’ second game of the day pitted them against No. 17 Auburn. The Tigers jumped on the board early with an unearned run before tacking on three more in the third and another pair in the fourth. Auburn finished the contest with a two-RBI base hit for the five-inning run-rule victory.
Entering the bottom of the third, WKU held a 2-1 advantage over Auburn in the hits column before the final margin settled at 11-2 in favor of the Tigers. Jordan Vorbrink and Maddie Bowlds recorded the Hilltoppers’ hits in the outing while Shannon Plese reached on an error and proceeded to steal second base.
From the circle, WKU’s pitchers Kelsey Aikey and Shelby Nunn each tallied four strikeouts to AU’s seven.
“Kelsey Aikey and Shelby Nunn had several strikeouts and had great composure in the circle,” Tudor shared. “Offensively, we were able to get runner on and into scoring position but were not able to push them across.”
Since 2000, WKU Softball has played 11 different SEC squads. The Hilltoppers have gone 18-44 up against SEC opposition. Under Coach Tudor’s reign, the 2014-2019 squads have gone head to head with seven of the SEC programs, putting together a record of 5-11.
NEXT GAME: On Saturday, WKU will take on Florida A&M at 11 a.m. followed by a tilt with Tennessee State at 2 p.m. from the Gulf Shores Sportsplex.
WKU Athletic Communications/Media Relations