TUSCALOOSA, Ala.— The Western Kentucky University softball team (43-18) concluded its historic 2013 season on Sunday, as the Lady Toppers fell 13-1 in five innings to No. 10 national seed Alabama (45-13) in the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional championship game at Rhoads Stadium.
The 2013 campaign consisted of numerous landmark events in the program’s history, including making it to the championship contest in its first-ever NCAA Regional appearance. The Lady Toppers also accomplished earning its first Sun Belt Conference regular-season title, recording the most wins in a single season and taking the most wins in a season against ranked opponents with six victories among those memorable events.
WKU ends the Tuscaloosa Regional with a pair of 3-0 wins against USC Upstate while falling in two games to the Tide, including Saturday’s 7-6 thriller. Over the weekend, sophomore Preslie Cruce and fellow classmate Shawna Sadler tabbed four hits apiece while juniors Olivia Watkins and Amanda Thomas had three each.
Against Alabama, senior Mallorie Sulaski (13-9) got the starting nod, as she went 1.1 innings with four hits, four runs and one walk given out. Junior Emily Rousseau closed out the game after allowing 11 hits and nine runs while striking out five and walking two.
Alabama’s Jackie Traina (19-6) earned the win with one hit given up and two strikeouts. Junior Kelsie Mattox notched the lone hit against Traina with a single up the middle in the second inning. Leslie Jury came to the circle for the fifth inning, as WKU put up three hits and the run against her.
Small ball mixed in with big hits pushed Alabama ahead early in the contest, as after two innings the Crimson Tide led 7-0. After opening the game with back-to-back infield singles, a sacrifice bunt followed by a sacrifice fly by Molly Fichtner gave Alabama a 1-0 lead. In the second inning, a pair of home runs, including a grand slam by Kaila Hunt, along with a passed ball added the other six runs to the host team’s advantage.
After holding Alabama scoreless in the third, the Tide combined for six runs in the fourth and fifth inning to seal its way to Super Regionals. Alabama posted seven hits along with a sacrifice fly to drive in the runs.
WKU didn’t stop battling, as the Lady Toppers posted a run in bottom fifth. Sulaski placed a double in right center for WKU’s second hit of the contest. In the next at-bat, Sadler posted a single, as Sulaski legged out the run to beat the throw going home.
Six seniors finish their careers on The Hill in Sulaski, Ciara Garcia, Karavin Dew, Katrina Metoyer, Shelby Taylor and Kellie Quarles. The group compiled a record of 133-97-1 in their four years.