NASHVILLE — The WKU softball team posted it's third consecutive one-hit shutout Wednesday, defeating Belmont 3-0 at E.S. Rose Park. Freshman Preslie Cruce broke a scoreless tie with a solo home run in the sixth inning, her fourth home run of the season.
WKU (24-15-1) threatened early in the first as Kelsie Mattox singled to left field with one out. She was then caught stealing second, with Karavin Dew popping out to Belmont (8-27) pitcher Mia Vierra to end the inning. Kim Wagner did her part to keep the Bruins off the scoreboard early, retiring eight straight batters after a lead-off walk. Belmont had a chance to score in the bottom of the third. With runners at second and third with two outs, Wagner got Heather Turner to flyout to end the inning.
Belmont had another chance to score in the fourth. Ashley Byers led off with the Bruins' first hit, a single to left field. Wagner then struck out Becca Gift for the first out, but hit Cassie Bollin with a pitch to give Belmont runners at first and second. She then struck out Vierra, with the ball getting past Dew to allow the runners to advance. With a runner at third for the second consecutive inning, Belmont failed to score as MJ Lawson popped up a bunt right to Wagner.
After Mattox's single in the first, WKU was held without a hit until the top of the sixth. Cruce led off the inning by hitting her fourth home run of the season over the left field fence, putting the Lady Toppers ahead 1-0. After a flyout, Ciara Garcia and Mattox hit back-to-back singles. Dew then grounded out to second to move the runners into scoring position. WKU would be held to one run, however, as Amanda Thomas grounded out to end the threat.
The Lady Toppers added two more runs in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Shelby Taylor singled through the left side of the infield to keep the inning alive. Cruce then doubled down the left field line to give WKU runners at second and third. Olivia Watkins brought both runners around to score with a base hit back up the middle, making the score 3-0. Brittanie Albright came on in the seventh and retired Belmont in order for the save.
Mattox and Cruce each went 2-for-3 at the plate on Wednesday, with Cruce scoring two runs. WKU had seven hits as a team. Wagner allowed just one hit in six innings for her 10th win of the season, striking out six batters.
The Lady Toppers return to the WKU Softball Field on Saturday to open a weekend series against FIU for Super Hilltopper Weekend. WKU will take on the Panthers in a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday is Bring Your Dog, Enjoy A Dog day at the WKU Softball Field. Fans can bring their dog to sit with them in the stands and enjoy $1 hot dogs served by Concessions by Centerplate for both games.