BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) --- For the first time since March 13, WKU Softball left the field on the losing end of a decision as the Hilltoppers dropped a midweek tilt against Louisville Wednesday night on The Hill. With an attendance of 877 on hand inside the WKU Softball Complex as well as filtered into the parking structure, the Red and White took the field in front of its largest crown – home or away – of the season. WKU’s 7-2 loss to the Cardinals snapped the squad’s 11-game win streak.
“This was the biggest crowd we’ve had all year and we’re grateful to everyone for coming out,” head coach Amy Tudor shared of the crowd. “Sometimes your environment will dictate your play and I feel like today it did. We need to play the same whether it’s a big crowd, small crowd, or the president’s here; it doesn’t matter.”
Despite the rare Hilltopper loss, moving the team to 26-6 on the season, WKU scored at least one run for the 30th-consecutive game. The Red and White have been shut out just once this season.
Louisville (23-13) struck in its opening trip to the plate for all the run support the squad would end up needing as the Cardinals plated three each of the first to frames.
Trailing 3-0 heading into the bottom of the first, Rebekah Engelhardt beat out an infield single before the senior stole her first of two bases on the day. Already in scoring position, Engelhardt would come around to score after Shannon Plese reached on a throwing error that saw her end up on second.
While Plese reached base on the error, it did not count towards her 24-game reached base streak due to the defensive mishap. Her team-best streak would come to an end as the redshirt-senior was unable to find another way on board again.
After Louisville made the score 6-1 in the top of the second, former Cardinal and current Hilltopper Jordan Vorbrink led off the bottom of the frame with a double to the left-center gap. After a pair of popouts, Maddie Bowlds stepped into the box and followed Vorbrink’s lead with another double to the gap, trading places with the senior for the squad’s second run of the day.
WKU would tally just one more hit in its final five trips to the plate in the form of a Kendall Smith single. Engelhardt was the Hilltoppers’ final baserunner of the game in the top of the fifth when she drew a walk and proceeded to steal her second bag of the night, bringing her season total to 12.
Louisville added its final run in the top of the seventh in the form of a solo home run for a 7-2 lead.
Kelsey Aikey drew the start and took the loss moving to 8-4 on the season after allowing three runs – one earned – before an early exit. Kennedy Sullivan worked 5.2 innings of relief, striking out seven while allowing four runs and five hits. Shelby Nunn tossed the final frame for the Hilltoppers and allowed just one hit and zero runs.
Louisville outhit the Hilltoppers 7-4 in the contest in addition to drawing 10 free bases off the WKU pitchers.