Murfreesboro, Tenn. – After rattling off a pair of wins to advance into the semifinal round of the 2007 Sun Belt Conference Tournament, the Western Kentucky University softball team fell to Troy, 5-4, to end its season Saturday at the Middle Tennessee Softball Complex.
But the Hilltoppers did not go down without a fight.
Trailing 4-1, WKU started its half of the seventh with Terri Ellingsworth drawing a 12-pitch walk. Ashley Contreras reached on fielder’s choice that put out Ellingsworth at second, and Renikka Toliver singled to put two runners on base. Rachelle Boucher popped out to shortstop, leaving the Hilltoppers down to their last out. Facing a 3-2 count, Sam Cronk sailed a home run down the leftfield line that barely stayed fair to knot the game at 4-4.
Troy (42-9) would break up the tie and win the game in the bottom of the ninth when Stacey Dwyer, who at the time was 0-for-4 from the dish, delivered a two-out single up the middle with the bases loaded.
The sixth-seeded Hilltoppers closed out the 2007 campaign with a 30-32 record – the second 30-win season in head coach Rachel Lawson’s three years at the helm of the program.
During the game’s first inning on Friday afternoon, Jessica Lyle hit a lead-off single to heat up the engine for the third-seeded Trojans. Jennifer Kempf (21-19) struckout Courtney Davis and Heidi Johnson before Amanda Ragans singled to put two Trojans on the pond for Rocky Paige. But Alana Towns robbed Paige of a three-run homer when she tracked the fly ball to the warning track and timed her jump just right to make the grab before it left the playing field.
Play was suspended due to rain and the game then resumed Saturday morning in the top of the third inning, nearly 19 hours after its first pitch.
Paige bounced back in the home half of the third with a two-RBI double to the rightfield gap.
WKU tallied its first hit off Angela Lopez (21-8) in the fourth when Horesky launched one to left-center that bounced off the fence and back into play for a double. The smack moved Cronk to third, who walked to start the inning and moved to second on Towns’ sacrifice bunt. With one down, Lopez got Shelby Smith and Lindsay Antone to fly out
The Trojans’ third run was plated when Lyle singled in Kala Moore during the fourth.
Ellingsworth singled and Contreras followed with a double to left-center in the fifth. Toliver drew a walk on a ball-four wild pitch. Ellingsworth scored on the play and Toliver hustled to second as Contreras landed on third. Cronk lined out to shortstop then Lopez worked Towns into a 1-2 count before she was pulled and replaced by Michelle Grinage. Towns swung at the first pitch she saw from Grinage and flew out to left.
Brittney Robinette put Troy on top, 4-1, by beating the throw of a sixth-inning fielder’s choice by Moore to the plate.
Kempf was handed the loss after going 8.2 innings and fanning six. She pitched all 28.2 frames for WKU over the four-game tournament stretch, turning in 25 strikeouts and only eight earned runs.
Contreras paced the Hilltoppers with a pair of the team’s nine hits. Lyle led Troy with three knocks.