BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBKO) --- WKU pitcher Kelsey Aikey struck out 10 Blue Raider batters and led the Hilltoppers out of another bases-loaded no-outs jam before the Red and White suffered a 1-0 loss to No. 6-seeded Middle Tennessee on the opening day of the Conference USA Tournament.
MTSU loaded the bases before the Hilltoppers could record an out in the postseason appearance but Aikey retaliated with three-straight punchouts to get WKU on offense for the first time.
Maddie Bowlds drew a one-out walk before getting thrown out trying to take an extra base after Shannon Plese reached on an error.
After stranding at least one MTSU runner in each of the first five innings for a total of eight, WKU headed back to the plate. Jordan Vorbrink opened the bottom of the fifth with a single back up the middle to get the Hilltoppers into the hit column. Taylor Davis pinch ran for the senior and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Paige Carter.
The Hilltoppers retired the Blue Raiders in order in the top of the sixth. One inning later, the Red and White saw themselves in another bases-loaded no outs situation. WKU got the first out with the force out at home plate but MTSU responded by beating out an RBI-infield single for the game’s only run. WKU responded with another force out at home before Aikey racked up her 10th strikeout.
Kendall Smith drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the seventh and her pinch runner – Jordan Ridge - moved to second on a Kennedy Sullivan sacrifice bunt. Ridge would end up stranded as the fourth Hilltopper left on base.
Aikey tossed a complete-game outing finishing with six hits, one run, five walks and 10 strikeouts.
WKU closed the season with a record of 37-13 – posting the program’s best-ever win percentage at .740.