ATLANTA— The Western Kentucky University softball team (32-22-1, 11-10) split its final day of the regular season, falling in extra innings 6-5 in game one before winning the finale 9-7 at Georgia State (30-25, 12-9) on Saturday.
GAME ONE—Georgia State 6, WKU 5 (8 inn.)
Four home runs and a walk-off single in the eighth inning by Georgia State would give the Panthers the series-clinching win at 6-5 in game one of the doubleheader.
WKU had 12 hits in the contest compared to GSU’s seven, as senior Olivia Watkins and junior Shawna Sadler had three hits each. Sophomore Brooke Holloway and senior Amanda Thomas added a pair of hits apiece. All of WKU’s hits were singles outside of a double by Watkins for her seventh on the year.
Senior Emily Rousseau (16-16) took the loss after pitching the final 6.2 innings of the game, allowing four hits with two runs, four walks and five strikeouts. Freshman Hannah Miniard started the game, giving up two hits and two runs, while junior Janna Scheff pitched one inning with two runs on one hit handed out.
GSU’s Kaitlyn Medlam (20-11) earned her second-straight win of the series after finishing the last four innings with two hits, one walk and three strikeouts to her line. Eron Milton started the game with 10 hits and all five runs against her.
Four singles in the first inning by the Lady Toppers gave WKU an early 3-0 lead. With two on base and one out, Holloway hit a RBI single before junior Jacqueline McGill placed a bunt in front of GSU’s pitcher to allow Sadler to come home. A bloop single in shallow right from Thomas then brought in the final inning’s run.
GSU powered its way to a lead in the bottom first after two back-to-back solo home runs in the first two at-bats followed by a two-out, two-run bomb to go up 4-3. WKU tied it in the second with a RBI single from Sadler before GSU retook the lead after another solo home run put GSU ahead 5-4.
Three-consecutive two-out singles loaded the bases for WKU in the fourth and allowed a Holloway RBI single to tie the game at 5 each.
The standstill would hold for four innings, sending the game to an extra inning where GSU pinch hitter Taylor Thorpe put a two-out single into right field to win the game at 6-5.
GAME TWO—WKU 9, Georgia State 7
WKU avoided the series sweep by taking the final game against GSU 9-7.
Both teams notched double-digit hits, as WKU had 11 and GSU 12. Watkins, Holloway and Thomas had two hits each for team highs in the contest. Cruce had three RBI and two walks while Thomas and Holloway came in for three and two runs, respectively.
Rousseau (17-16) completed the game with all seven runs earned while handing out six walks in seven innings of work. Milton (7-7) took the loss for GSU with seven hits and two earned runs allowed in four innings.
For the third-straight game, WKU took the early advantage in the first inning after a RBI double from senior Kelsie Mattox in right center put up the first run. Cruce then hit her second home run of the season, adding three runs to increase the team’s lead to 4-0.
GSU cut into WKU’s lead in the next frame, continuing its home run barrage with two solo shots to bring the score to 4-2. The Lady Toppers go the pair of runs back in the third after an error by the GSU second baseman allowed Holloway and Thomas to come home for a 6-2 advantage.
A RBI double from GSU in the fourth cut the WKU to three before freshman Kaylan Davis hit a run in and later scored on a wild pitch in the fifth making it an 8-3 lead. Each team would add a run, including WKU in the sixth after a RBI single from Thomas scored Holloway, prior to the Panthers closing the gap after using four hits for three runs to start a rally in the bottom sixth.
WKU couldn’t get any insurance runs in the seventh, as GSU threatened a comeback or another walk-off by loading the bases in the lower half of the inning with two outs. However, a groundout to Watkins at second ended the game with WKU ending an eight-game losing streak and the regular season with a win.
The Lady Toppers head to Lafayette, La., where they will look to survive and advance at the Sun Belt Conference Tournament beginning on Wednesday, May 7. WKU will enter as the fourth seed and play the winner of the contest between the fifth seed and eight seed at 5:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday. Day one of the tournament is single elimination before moving to double elimination before the championship game on Saturday, May 10.
For more information on WKU softball, visit WKUSports.com or follow the team on Twitter via @WKUSoftball.