MOBILE, Ala.— The Western Kentucky University softball team (18-11, 7-3 SBC) took its third win over a ranked opponent on Friday night, as the Lady Toppers defeated No. 25 South Alabama (29-6, 6-2 SBC) 4-3 in game one at Jaguar Field before falling in the latter game 8-5.
Game One: WKU 4, South Alabama 3
Junior Emily Rousseau (9-4) struck out 12 batters to tie her career high on the way to a 4-3 win over South Alabama.
Sophomore Preslie Cruce added two hits in the contest, as WKU totaled eight to the Jaguars’ four.
South Alabama’s Hannah Campbell (13-6) took the loss after going all seven innings with three strikeouts and two walks while all four runs were earned.
Junior Amanda Thomas gave WKU a 1-0 advantage in the top fourth after taking a 1-2 pitch over the left-center field wall for her eighth of the season.
South Alabama quickly responded in the home half of the same inning, as Brittany Fowler opened the frame with a single to right field. Haley Fagan then scored Fowler on a double to left center. Kaitlyn Griffith followed in the next at-bat with a home run to left field to set the score at 3-1.
WKU regained the lead at 4-3 in the top fifth with senior Ciara Garcia starting things off with a single toward the left side. Senior Karavin Dew moved Garcia to second on a hit by pitch that allowed sophomore Preslie Cruce to bring in Garcia on a double. Senior Katrina Metoyer sealed the win after clearing the bases with a hit to right center.
Game Two: South Alabama 8, WKU 5
The Jaguars used eight hits in game two to take an 8-5 win over WKU.
Senior Mallorie Sulaski (5-5) did 5.1 innings of work in the circle to give up nine hits and six walks while striking out three. Sophomore Janna Scheff came in during the sixth to get the last two outs.
South Alabama’s Farish Beard (13-0) earned the victory, as she allowed three hits, three earned runs and seven walks. Beard fanned nine batters throughout the contest.
The home team struck first in game two, as South Alabama added three runs in the bottom second. Julie Moss took a four-pitch walk in the first at-bat of the inning before advancing to second on a Fagan sacrifice bunt. A single by Griffith followed before Meghan Collins posted a RBI single for the first run. Clara Bowen then put a double down the third-base line to bring the Jags to a 3-0 advantage.
Cruce cut the lead in the top third with one swing, sending the ball over the right fielder for her fifth home run this season. The shot scored junior Tiffany Gooch after she reached on a walk.
The Jaguars extended their lead to 5-2 in the bottom half of the third with two runs coming in off of a Griffith double to right-center field. The two-base hit scored Fowler, who reached on a hit by pitch, and Moss, who made it to base on a fielder’s choice.
Gooch made her way around the bases after walking in her opening at-bat in the fifth inning. Advancing to second after a Dew sacrifice hit, Gooch went to third on a wild pitch before a throwing error helped put the score at 5-3 Jaguars.
South Alabama responded with a run of its own in the home half of the fifth frame to bring its lead to 6-3. A sacrifice fly with one out by Bowen brought in Fagan for the run. Two more insurance runs came in for the Jaguars in the bottom sixth after Emily Messer opened with a triple and Blair Johnson followed with a walk. Moss brought in both baserunners after a double to right center.
WKU wasn’t going down without a fight, as the first three batters of the seventh inning reached base with a hit by pitch, walk and bunt single. Metoyer started a WKU comeback with her fielder’s choice scoring Dew from third before a wild pitch allowed Cruce to bring the score to 8-5. With two out and bases loaded, Jags pitcher Campbell came into the game to notch the last out of the inning and force a game three rubber match.
The teams close out the series on Saturday, March 30 with a noon first pitch.