Mobile, Ala. – Freshman Ashley Contreras knocked her first collegiate homer in the top of seventh to give the Western Kentucky University softball team a 2-1 win over South Alabama in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday at Jaguar Field. Her solo shot over the leftfield fence would prove to be the game winner after pitcher Jennifer Kempf (17-16) retired the side in the bottom of the frame and allowed WKU to even the Sun Belt Conference series, 1-1.
The Jaguars (34-19 overall, 10-9 SBC) took the opener, 4-2.
Contreras’ hit was one of three Hilltopper (26-28 overall, 9-11 SBC) knocks in game two, with South Alabama registering six.
Kempf pitched the complete game and yielded one earned run on six hits with six strikeouts to help the Hilltoppers snap a five-game skid. She was aided by a Hilltopper defense that worked to strand eight USA runners on base. Beth Pilgrim (10-6) posted similar numbers by giving up one earned run and fanning six in 7.0 innings.
Rachelle Boucher started the game by reaching first on a fielding error which allowed her to advance another bag. A sacrifice bunt by Sam Cronk moved Boucher to third, and Alana Towns collected the RBI when she grounded to shortstop to cross the run.
South Alabama tied the game, 1-1, in the bottom of the fourth when Tara Donaldson and Jenny Stevens traded places by putting together back-to-back doubles.
Cronk stole two bags in the contest to push her season total to 14.
Kempf also started from the circle for WKU in game one and scattered seven Jaguar hits in 6.0 innings. Linden Jones (18-9) struckout nine in her three-hitter.
After Boucher walked in the top of the first, Cronk moved her to second with a sacrifice bunt and Rebecca Horesky’s single to center would bring her home.
Trailing 1-0, USA posed three runs in the home half of the third courtesy of four hits. Stevens’ infield single plated Ashley Elmore and loaded the bases. One batter later, Katie McGuire shot a double to rightfield to score two more runs.
Terri Ellingsworth smashed her second homer of the season in the fifth to bring WKU within one run, but Carolina Mendoza sent a dinger of her own to left-center in the sixth to make the score 4-2.
Game three will begin Sunday at noon (CDT).