Western Kentucky University softball 2019
Courtesy WKU Athletics

WKU Softball picked up where it left off Sunday night at the plate, combining for 17 runs on 21 hits to complete its sweep of the Hilltopper Classic. The Red and White opened the day with a walk-off run-rule victory over Cleveland State in six innings behind Shelby Nunn’s one hitter before holding on for a 9-7 win against Indiana State to seal the sweep.

“Our hitters came out and did a really great job at the plate – this was probably our best hitting weekend so far,” head coach Amy Tudor opened when asked about the team’s 4-0 record in the Hilltopper Classic. “For us, setting that tone both in the circle and also at the plate is huge.”

Across the squad’s 12 combined trips to the plate, the Hilltoppers connected for four home runs, a triple and four doubles. All 17 of the day’s runs came via an RBI while 10 came with two outs in the inning.

The Hilltoppers entered the weekend with a collective .251 batting average and raised it to a .292 mark after hitting at a blistering .364 clip across the four games of the Hilltopper Classic.

WKU has now won five-straight games after claiming its rubber match against Western Illinois last weekend. The Hilltoppers have improved to 10-2 on the young season – the best start in program history. The victories were also the 600th and 601st all-time wins in WKU Softball history.

GAME 11: WKU 8, CLEVELAND STATE 0 [6]

Nunn went the distance in Monday’s opening tilt, allowing just one hit – a leadoff single in the top of the second – before retiring 15 of the final 17 batters. The two that reached base got on board after a couple of fielding errors as the sophomore did not allow any walks. She finished with four punchouts on just 64 pitches for her second win over the weekend.

In the Hilltoppers’ first at bat of the day, Jordan Thomas sent a home run over the left field wall to give WKU the lead it would never relinquish. Thomas’ shot was her second of the season. Two batters later, Shannon Plese connected for her first of four hits on the day with a double before Kendall Smith brought her around to score on a base hit of her own.

WKU added five more runs in the bottom of the third after sending 10 batters to the plate. Thomas, Jordan Ridge and Morgan McElroy all registered singles in the frame, Plese struck for a triple and Rebekah Engelhardt cranked a home run to account for the squad’s five hits in the inning.

In the bottom of the sixth, Tommi Stowers began her tear with a pinch-hit double to the left-center gap. The junior advanced to third on a wild pitch before scoring on Paige Carter’s walk-off, pinch-hit single to left field that secured the 8-0 victory.

Nine different Hilltoppers tallied a hit with Thomas and Plese registering multi-hit showings.

GAME 12: WKU 9, INDIANA STATE 7

WKU struck first in its second contest of the day, taking a 3-0 lead in its first trip to the plate against Indiana State, and never looked back en route to the 9-7 win.

Stowers went 3-for-3 at the plate in the outing, finishing just a triple shy of the cycle while adding four crucial RBI in the process. In her first start of the season, Stowers delivered a two-run home run on a 1-1 count to make the score 3-0 in favor of the Tops in the bottom of the first.

“Tommi hit it today,” Tudor shared of Stowers’ 4-for-4 day. “She’s seeing the ball great and has a ton of confidence. She’s worked really hard and works just as hard in the bullpen getting all of our pitchers ready and she got her moment and she shined.”

Prior to Stowers’ long ball, Plese had already connected for a solo shot to straight-away center to open the game’s scoring. Both home runs came with two outs.

WKU proceeded to add another run in both the bottom of the second and third innings. First, Maddie Bowlds got on board with an infield single before Thomas brought her home with a double. In the next frame, Smith drew one of her three walks on the game before Stowers delivered her second double of the day to make the score 5-1.

The bottom of the fourth opened with two quick Hilltopper outs before the squad kept things moving with seven more at bats in the frame to tally three more runs. Four base hits, a walk and an ISU fielding error allowed the Red and White to score three runs on four hits in the frame before leaving the bases loaded.

Indiana State wouldn’t go away, scoring a total of six runs across the final three innings and force WKU to eventually use four different pitchers in the tilt.

Kennedy Sullivan drew the start and secured her Conference USA-best seventh win of the season (7-0) before giving way to Kelsey Aikey in the top of the fifth. Aikey worked into the sixth before Haylee Towers made her first appearance of the year and recorded 1.1 innings of work. In the top of the seventh after the Sycamores brought the tying run to the plate, Nunn heard her name called again and secured a one-out save after inducing a flyout to Towers in leftfield to end the game.

“Shelby’s stuff was working today, she had great command of all of her pitches,” Tudor said of the sophomore pitcher. “She’s always got that killer instinct on the mound and the defense played wonderful behind her. I thought she did a really good job in game one and then turning around to get the save with one batter in the second game.”

NEXT GAME: Following seven games from the WKU Softball Complex over the last two weekends, the Hilltoppers will now take the show on the road the next three weekends. Up next, the Red and White will head to Birmingham, Ala., for four games at the Samford-hosted tournament beginning Friday, March 1.

How to Follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Softball, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUSoftball, Instagram @WKU_Softball and Facebook /WKUSoftball.

-@WKUSports-

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Jessica Leifheit

Assistant Director

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