BOWLING GREEN, Ky.—With her 31st steal of the season, Western Kentucky University softball senior Olivia Watkins became the program’s all-time steals leader as she swiped her 93rd base in her career in WKU’s (24-12-1, 6-2) losses to No. 21 Louisiana-Lafayette (27-6-1, 8-0) on Saturday afternoon.
Watkins is one of the top players in the Sun Belt Conference in stolen bases, as she ranks first in the league and fifth in the nation in stolen bases. Her 38 swiped bags last season ranks first in WKU’s single-season records, as she is on pace to break that number this year.
GAME ONE—No. 21 ULL 8, WKU 4
WKU was able to cut ULL’s lead early to one run, but three home runs by the Ragin’ Cajuns would lift the visitors to an 8-4 win in game one.
ULL hit a two-run home run by Haley Hayden with no outs in the first to take the early advantage before sophomore Brooke Holloway hit her fourth home run of the season to cut the lead to 2-1. A sacrifice fly and RBI single from ULL in the third put the Cajuns back on top 4-1.
The Lady Toppers quickly responded in the next half inning after a sacrifice fly in foul territory from senior Amanda Thomas scored junior Shawna Sadler before junior Jacqueline McGill placed a RBI single up the middle to bring in senior Tiffany Gooch and set the score at 4-3.
A three-run shot in the fourth and a solo home run in the fifth by ULL put the game at 8-3, but despite a run scored in the bottom seventh after a McGill sacrifice fly, the game would be out of reach for the Lady Toppers.
WKU left 11 on base, reaching on five hits, two hit by pitches and eight walks dealt out by Christina Hamilton (13-1) in her complete-game win. Senior Emily Rousseau (13-8) went six innings, giving up all 10 of ULL’s hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
GAME TWO—No. 21 ULL 11, WKU 5
The Lady Toppers again had the Ragin’ Cajuns within reach, but ULL hit its way to an 11-5 win to take the doubleheader sweep.
WKU took a 1-0 lead in its opening frame at the plate after junior Preslie Cruce started with a double that stayed just fair down the right field line. After Watkins was hit by pitch and Sadler moved the runners on a sacrifice bunt, Thomas walked to load the bases with two outs. Holloway then brought in Cruce after she was walked.
ULL took over the lead in the third after a two-run home run from Shelbi Redrearn before a six-run fourth inning put it at an 8-1 ballgame. ULL had six hits in the frame, including two home runs, that all came with two outs.
A RBI double from Thomas in the fifth made it an 8-2 game before Cruce’s three-run bomb over the center field wall cut the lead to 8-5 in the sixth. However, a pair of doubles helped ULL add on insurance runs in the top seventh and secure the 11-5 win.
Cruce led WKU at the plate, as she took two of WKU’s five hits from Jordan Wallace (12-2). Wallace went the distance, as she gave out seven walks while striking out seven.
Freshman Hannah Miniard (11-4) started the game, going the first 3.2 innings with eight hits, six walks and four strikeouts in her line. Junior Janna Scheff took the last 3.1 frames with six hits, three runs and two walks allowed with two strikeouts.
The teams are back in action on Sunday, April 6 for the series finale beginning at noon CT. In-game updates can be found on Twitter via @WKU_GameDay.
For more information on WKU softball, visit WKUSports.com or follow the team on Twitter via @WKUSoftball.