After the series finale first pitch was delivered five hours later than originally scheduled due to inclement weather, WKU Softball fell to Southern Miss from the USM Softball Complex in 11 innings, 2-0. The Hilltoppers clinched the series with a doubleheader sweep on Saturday before moving to 17-7 on the season with Sunday’s setback.
“Winning a series on the road is always big,” head coach Amy Tudor opened. “We swung the bats well for two of the three games and I think there are things we can learn from this game and take those lessons with us down the road. We showed our ability to keep fighting even when we aren’t clicking on all cylinders. I was proud of our toughness when our backs were against the wall in several situations, especially late in the game. This one is on the books and now we’ll adjust and keep moving forward.”
Starting pitcher Shelby Nunn carried a no-hitter through 4.1 innings before Southern Miss broke into the hit column with a double to left-center field. The Golden Eagle runner advanced to third, marking the first base runner of the game to advance past second but the Hilltoppers were able to hold her there and get back to the dugout.
Moving ahead to the bottom of the seventh, USM’s leadoff hitter reached base after an infield error by the Red and White. The next batter sent a double to center field allowing the runner to be sent around in an attempt to score. WKU executed a right field to second base to home plate relay flawlessly allowing Kendall Smith to tag out the runner at the plate to extend the game. Still with just one out, Kelsey Aikey relieved Nunn in the circle and proceeded to induce a fielder’s choice to the left side to get the runner heading to third before Smith and Morgan McElroy connected for the caught stealing for the third out.
WKU managed to load the bases in the top of the eighth – all on two outs – after a Jordan Thomas walk, a Maddie Bowlds single and a Jordan Vorbrink walk but the runners ended up stranded.
In each of the four extra innings, both squads were able to get the potential go-ahead run on board but each ended up stranded with the exception of the bottom of the 11th. Five of Southern Miss’ eight runners left on base came during extra innings, with a Golden Eagle moving into scoring position all three frames.
Southern Miss ultimately broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the 11th after a one-out single followed by a home run to right-center field for the 2-0 walkoff victory.
Aikey took the decision in the game after tossing the final 4.0 frames for the Red and White. The sophomore moves to 5-2 on the year after allowing four hits and three walks while striking out three.
Freshman Maddie Bowlds finished with a 3-for-4 day at the plate with a sacrifice hit on the scorecard as well. The first baseman recorded three singles for her sixth multi-hit game of the season – fourth with three or more knocks.
Next up, the WKU squad is headed for Baton Rouge, La., where the Hilltoppers will take on nationally-ranked LSU on Tuesday before traveling to Mobile, Ala., for a contest at South Alabama on Wednesday.
· Maddie Bowlds recorded her sixth multi-hit game of the season in Sunday’s series finale at Southern Miss. The freshman racked up three singles across the fourth, sixth and eighth innings.
· The extra-inning affair was WKU’s third time going past regulation on the year. The Hilltoppers are now 2-1 when playing extra frames with Sunday’s 11-inning contest marking the longest of the season.
· Kendall Smith caught her eighth runner attempting to steal on her debut campaign. The freshman catcher is now 8-for-16 in runners caught stealing. Six of the runners caught – including Sunday’s – have come with Kelsey Aikey in the circle.
How to Follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Softball, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUSoftball, Instagram @WKU_Softball and Facebook /WKUSoftball.
WKU Athletic Communications/Media Relations
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