BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — After moving the games against Middle Tennessee up a day because of inclement weather predicted in the Bowling Green area, the Western Kentucky University softball team (38-14, 20-3 SBC) swept the rival Blue Raiders (7-47, 1-21 SBC) to claim the program’s first-ever Sun Belt Conference Regular-Season Championship on Friday.
With the pair of wins, the 2013 squad sets the single-season record for most wins in a season while posting its 13th-straight conference victory with its fifth league sweep of the year. The Lady Toppers will enter the SBC Tournament next week in Troy, Ala., as the league’s No. 1 seed.
“It feels awesome to win our program’s first championship and such a blessing, especially after the weather situation that we had,” WKU head coach Tyra Perry said. “Getting able to play those two games tonight was clutch. It was a situation where I felt that my players deserved to decide things on the field. This is only a beginning. We won the regular-season championship, and now we are going down to Troy for the conference tournament to win another one.”
Game One—WKU 7, Middle Tennessee 1
Twelve hits in game one, including a junior Kelsie Mattox home run, sealed a 7-1 victory to open the day against MT.
Junior Olivia Watkins went 3-for-4 in the game while recording two runs and three stolen bases in the contest, the first time since 2011 that a Lady Topper swiped three bags in a single game.
Junior Emily Rousseau (22-5) threw all seven innings, giving up six hits and a walk while striking out eight. Blue Raider pitcher Shelby Stinnett (1-14) took the loss after allowing eight hits, five runs and three walks with one strikeout.
Mattox’s only hit of the game came after junior Olivia Watkins scored on a groundout. With the one-run lead and two outs on the board, Mattox stepped to the plate to take a 0-1 pitch over the center field fence. Senior Mallorie Sulaski followed with a single down the left-field line before scoring on a sophomore Shawna Sadler RBI hit two at-bats later to make it a 3-0 ballgame.
MT cut the lead in the top fourth, putting up a run off of a Niki Campbell RBI. However, the gates broke open for WKU in the sixth when the Lady Toppers posted four runs on six hits to close out the 7-1 win. Senior Katrina Metoyer and Sadler opened the frame with a pair of singles before moving on a senior Karavin Dew sacrifice bunt. Sophomore Preslie Cruce then punched out a single to score the two runs. The offense continued when after two-straight singles, junior Amanda Thomas added her own single to bring in Cruce before Watkins scored on a wild pitch for the game’s last run.
Game Two—WKU 4, Middle Tennessee 0
Needing the sweep to claim the regular-season title, WKU clinched the championship with a 4-0 win in the final game.
WKU posted just four hits in the contest compared to MT’s six, but one big hit from Metoyer out of the park brought in three insurance runs in the sixth inning. The Lady Toppers carried a 1-0 lead into that frame after a Cruce sacrifice fly to right in the third inning scored Sadler after she reached on two-base hit.
Sulaski (11-7), who along with five other seniors celebrated their last home game of their careers in between games, earned the shutout victory while striking out five batters. MT’s Kailey McDougald (0-2) took the loss after going the first 2.1 innings with just two hits given up and WKU’s first run against her. Caitlin McClure and Ashley Stassin came in during the later innings to give up a hit each while the home run came against Stassin.