MONROE, La. — The WKU softball team swept a Sun Belt doubleheader for the second time this season on Saturday, defeating the ULM Warhawks by identical 4-1 scores. Pitchers Emily Rousseau and Kim Wagner both pitched complete games for their 12th wins of the season respectively.
WKU (27-17-1, 9-7-1 Sun Belt) scored first in game one. Amanda Thomas led off the top of the second with a walk. Laura Smith followed with a single up the middle. Mallorie Sulaski then advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt to Alexis Cacioppo at third base. With one out, Preslie Cruce hit a fly ball to centerfield that was deep enough to score Thomas and put the Lady Toppers ahead 1-0.
Rousseau held the ULM (20-21, 5-12) bats at bay in the first three innings. After retiring the first two Warhawk batters in the bottom of the first, she allowed back-to-back walks to Cacioppo and Janel Salanoa. Rousseau then struck out Haley McCall to get out of the inning. ULM recorded it's first hit of the game in the third as Miyuki Navarrete hit a liner off the glove of Olivia Watkins at second base. Rousseau got out of that inning by getting a popout and striking out Cacioppo looking.
The Warhawks tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth. Salanoa led off the inning with a single up the middle. She advanced to second on a McCall groundout. Salanoa then stole third and scored on an RBI single by Roxy Cassel. Rousseau, however, would not surrender the lead. She retired Charlotte Pastor and Katie Girardi to keep the game tied. ULM threatened to take the lead in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs, Elena DiMattia drew a walk. She then stole second and advanced to third after an errant throw. Once again, Rousseau held the Warhawks off the scoreboard by getting Cacioppo to ground out to Thomas at shortstop.
WKU looked to have a rally going in the top of the sixth. Kelsie Mattox was hit by a pitch with one out. After Karavin Dew fouled out for the second out of the inning, Thomas drew a walk to give the Lady Toppers runners at first and second. ULM starting pitcher Samantha Hamby then got Smith to fly out to end the threat. The Warhawks also left two runners on base in the sixth, failing to cash in on a McCall walk and Pastor single.
The Lady Toppers finally broke the 1-1 tie in the top of the seventh. Amanda Walden drew a walk pinch-hitting for Sulaski. With Sulaski back in to run at first, Cruce hit a single to centerfield. ULM then brought in Haylie Wilson to pitch for Hamby. Katrina Metoyer then advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt. Jacqueline McGill then came on to pinch-hit for Watkins. Wilson struck her out for the second out of the inning. It was Ciara Garcia that gave WKU the lead, hitting a double to left centerfield to bring in both Sulaski and Cruce to make the score 3-1. Mattox put the Lady Toppers up 4-1 with a single past the second baseman Pastor, scoring Garcia from second.
Rousseau allowed a lead-off single to Kayla Boening in the bottom of the seventh, but then got the Navarrette and DiMattia to ground out. With Boening at third, Rousseau struck out Cacioppo to end the game with her fifth strikeout. Rousseau earned her 12th win of the season, scattering five hits in the complete game win. Cruce was 2-for-2 at the plate with an RBI and a run scored.
ULM threatened to take an early lead in game two. Navarrete led off the inning with a walk, advancing to second on a passed ball. Kim Wagner, who started game two for WKU, then got DiMattia to pop out and Cacioppo to ground out. With two outs, Wagner then walked Salanoa and McCall to load the bases. With Cassel at bat, Navarrete attempted to score on a passed ball but was tagged by Dew at home plate to end the inning.
After leaving two on base in the first, the Warhawks loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning. Cassel singled through the left side of the infield, followed by a bunt single by Pastor. Mackenzie Miller then drew a walk to load the bases. Boening fouled out for the first out. Navarrete then hit a flied out to left, bringing in Cassel to score to put ULM up 1-0 through two.
WKU took the lead from the Warhawks in the top of the fourth. With Smith on first and two outs in the inning, Cruce hit a home run over the centerfield fence to give the Lady Toppers a 2-1 lead. Wagner did her part to keep WKU in the lead, allowing just two hits in the fourth and fifth innings. The Lady Toppers added two more runs in the top of the sixth. With two outs, Smith hit a double to right centerfield. Cruce then hit a flyball that was dropped by Miller in centerfield, allowing Smith to score and make the score 3-1. Sulaski hit a groundball to Boening at shortstop. Boening's throw was wide of first base and scored Cruce to put WKU ahead 4-1.
The Lady Toppers were primed to add on to their lead in the top of the seventh. Watkins and Garcia hit consecutive singles through the left side to lead off the inning. Mattox then dropped a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third with one out. Dew hit a fly ball to centerfield for the second out. Watkins tagged up from third and attempted to score but was thrown out by the centerfielder Miller.
ULM attempted a rally in the bottom of the seventh. Navarrete singled to lead off the inning, reaching second on a groundout by DiMattia. Wagner then got Cacioppo to fly out to Mattox in left field for the second out. WKU then concluded the sweep with Wagner getting Salanoa to ground out to Watkins at second base.
Garcia went 2-for-3 at the plate in the nightcap. Both Smith and Cruce were 1-for-3 with two runs scored. Wagner allowed five hits in seven innings, striking out two and leaving nine Warhawks batters on base.
The Lady Toppers and Warhawks wrap up their series on Sunday with a 12 p.m. game at the ULM Softball Complex.