BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) --- Maddie Bowlds’ first career home run helped the Hilltoppers to a 4-1 victory over Murray State on Wednesday from the WKU Softball Complex. Kennedy Sullivan notched nine strikeouts en route to her 16th win of the season in the circle before Kelsey Aikey locked down her school-record sixth save of the season.
“This win gives us some momentum going into our series against UTSA this weekend,” head coach Amy Tudor opened. “It’ll be senior weekend for us with our five seniors. We worked on our mental and physical approach after this weekend [at La Tech] and I was really pretty of how we bounced back and our resiliency.”
With the victory, WKU is now 34-12 on the season while Murray State drops to 24-25. The Hilltoppers are 15-3 in outings from the WKU Softball Complex on the season.
Murray State led off the midweek outing with a double off the wall before the Racer baserunner would advance to third on a wild pitch during the next at bat. After a lineout to left field and a pair of Kennedy Sullivan strikeouts, WKU stranded the Murray State runner.
Jordan Thomas led off the bottom of the first with base hit to centerfield before Paige Carter beat out a bunt single for two quick Hilltopper knocks. Two outs later, Jordan Vorbrink delivered an infield single to the left side that allowed Carter to come around to score for a 1-0 WKU lead.
In the bottom of the second, Morgan McElroy drew a one-out hit by pitch before advancing to second on a Rebekah Engelhardt base hit. WKU’s next batter, Maddie Bowlds, stepped into the box and with a 1-1 count on her connected for her first collegiate home run – a three-run shot to right-center field to push WKU’s lead to 4-0.
Bowlds is the 10th different Hilltopper to connect for a home run this season and brings the team’s season total to 45 in 46 games.
After Murray State’s leadoff double, the Racers would not record another hit until the top of the fifth inning. A two-out walk gave the visitors a pair of baserunners but a called strike out would get WKU back to the dugout unscathed.
In the bottom of the fifth, Engelhardt connected for her second hit of the game – WKU’s sixth and final knock of the outing. Her 2-for-2 outing was the eighth multi-hit performance of the season for the senior.
The Racers broke into the scoring column in the top of the sixth after posting two hits and two walks in the frame, making the score 4-1 before Sullivan notched her ninth punch out of the day to get WKU back to the dugout.
WKU went down in order in its last trip to the plate before Kelsey Aikey headed out to the circle in search of three outs. Facing the top of the Racers’ lineup, Aikey and the Hilltopper defense retired the batters in order to secure the win.
Aikey’s one-inning save marked her WKU single-season record sixth of her junior campaign. The junior is now up to 12 in her career – already a Hilltopper Softball record. With six saves and 12 wins in the circle this season, Aikey is in elite company. She’s one of just three pitchers in the nation with those numbers, joined by New Mexico State’s Samaria Diaz and Jacksonville State’s Faiths Sims.
Sullivan earned the win in the circle, improving to 16-4 on the season. She finished with a line of one run, four hits, five walks and nine strikeouts.