TUSCALOOSA, Ala.— A pair of home runs off the bat of sophomore Preslie Cruce would be the only offense produced in the first game of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional, as the swings gave the Western Kentucky University softball team (42-16) a 3-0 win over USC Upstate (41-11) at Rhoads Stadium on the campus of the University of Alabama.
It was the second time this season and career that Cruce put up two home runs in a single game. Cruce gave WKU two long balls in the team’s 8-3 win over ULM.
Junior Emily Rousseau (25-6) threw her fifth game of the season where she allowed two hits or less in a complete-game shutout. The Spartans posted two hits against the Louisiana native while Rousseau struck out six with no walks given out. The pitcher retried the side in order in five of the seven innings.
Upstate’s Jamie Ujvari (19-4) gave up four hits to the Lady Toppers, as she allowed three free passes and fanned two batters.
For the sixth time this season, Cruce opened WKU’s turn at bat with a home run to give the Lady Toppers the early 1-0 advantage. Cruce extended the lead in the bottom fifth, as she delivered a 2-1 pitch over the center field wall for her 14th home run of the season. The deep ball brought in sophomore Shawna Sadler after she led off the inning with a single down the left field line.
The Spartans took their first hit off of Rousseau in the third after a single by Jessica Ujvari with one out. The designated hitter advanced to second after an error on Rousseau allowed Hayley Reinfeld to reach on a sacrifice bunt attempt. However, a strikeout from Rousseau ended the threat. Rousseau sat down 10-straight following that inning before giving up Upstate’s second hit with two outs in the seventh.
The Tuscaloosa Regional continues on Saturday, as WKU will face the winner of host and national 10th seed Alabama and Jacksonville State at 1 p.m. The winner of that game moves on to Sunday while the losing team will play again at 6 p.m. on Saturday against either USC Upstate or Jacksonville State.