TROY, Ala. — The top-seeded Western Kentucky University softball team (39-14) cruised past eighth-seeded ULM (19-34) 9-1 in the Lady Toppers’ first game of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Wednesday afternoon at the Troy Softball Complex.
SBC Pitcher of the Year Emily Rousseau (23-5) gave up just two hits to the Warhawks, as ULM’s lone run went unearned against the pitcher. The junior walked one while striking out five.
Junior Olivia Watkins, named a First-Team All-Conference selection, went a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with three singles and a triple while adding three runs. Sophomore Preslie Cruce along with seniors Ciara Garcia and Katrina Metoyer notched two hits each. As a team, WKU totaled 13 hits against two ULM pitchers, taking seven off of starting pitcher Haylie Wilson (8-17).
ULM took a 1-0 advantage in the top second after Janel Salanoa hit a double to the center field wall to open the inning. An error moved Salanoa to third before Faith Bohack posted the RBI.
Using four hits and a Warhawk error, WKU responded in the bottom frame to take a 5-1 advantage. Junior Kelsie Mattox opened the inning with a walk before freshman Bethany Oglesby came in to pinch run. After a sacrifice bunt, senior Mallorie Sulaski put down a RBI double to add the first run. With two outs on the board, senior Karavin Dew and Cruce hit back-to-back RBI singles followed by two more runs added from the ULM miscue.
Cruce boosted the lead in the fourth inning after a two-out solo home run gave WKU a 6-1 lead. The offense continued for the Lady Toppers, as after a Watkins single up the middle, Garica elevated the lead to 7-1 with a RBI double to left field.
The same trio of Lady Toppers closed out the game in the sixth inning with Cruce leading things off with her 16th hit by pitch this season. Watkins then powered out a triple to left field to bring in Cruce before adding the game-ending run on a Garcia single.
The Sun Belt Conference Tournament continues on Thursday, as WKU will face fourth-seeded North Texas at 3 p.m after the Mean Green defeated Florida Atlantic in extra innings in the day’s first game.