TUCSON, Ariz. — Junior pitcher Kim Wagner pitched her second shutout of the season on Sunday morning as the Western Kentucky University softball team blanked the UAB Blazers 6-0 in its final game of the Hillenbrand Invitational at the University of Arizona. Wagner struck out seven for the complete-game win, scattering six hits and one walk. Sophomore infielder Amanda Thomas was 2-for-3 at the plate with four RBI.
UAB (5-5) threatened to score in the top of the first inning. Kayla Orr hit a two-out infield single for the first hit of the game. Mandy Lowman then hit a single to right-center field. Orr attempted to score on the base hit but was thrown out at home on a nice relay by rightfielder Shawna Sadler to first baseman Mallorie Sulaski to Karavin Dew behind the plate. The Lady Toppers also had an opportunity to score in the bottom half of the inning. WKU had runners at first and second with two out but UAB starting pitcher Leigh Streetman struck out Sulaski to end the frame.
Both Wagner and Streetman kept hitters in check for the next three innings, allowing a combined four hits. Wagner struck out five batters from the second through the fifth inning. WKU then got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth. Sadler led off the Lady Toppers' half of the inning with an infield single, followed by a Kelsie Mattox walk. Preslie Cruce was then hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Thomas then stepped up to the plate and hit a double to right-center field, scoring Sadler and Mattox to put WKU ahead 2-0. The Blazers brought in Amber Torres from the bullpen after Thomas' two-RBI double. Torres got Sulaski to line out, struck out Amanda Walden, and got Dew to popout to end the WKU threat.
UAB attempted to get on the board in the top of the sixth. Catherine Crawford drew a one-out walk. Orr then reached on a fielder's choice as Crawford was put out at second base. Lowman followed that up with a single through the left side of the infield, giving the Blazers runners at first and second with two out. Wagner ended the inning by inducing a popout by Kristen McGrath to Cruce at third base.
The Lady Toppers then put the game away in the bottom of the sixth. Olivia Watkins singled up the middle followed by a bunt single by Sadler, her third hit of the game. Mattox then reached on a fielder's choice with Watkins put out at third base. With two outs in the inning, Cruce reached on an error by second baseman Maegan Hornsby. Sadler and Mattox showed their speed as both runners scored to give WKU a 4-0 lead. Thomas followed that up with her first home run of the season, a two-run shot to left field that made the score 6-0 and gave the sophomore shortstop four RBI on the day. Wagner got three popouts in the top of the seventh to secure the WKU win and her second shutout of the season.
The Lady Toppers now return home to host the Holiday Inn University Plaza Hilltopper Spring Classic starting on Friday, Feb. 24 when WKU hosts Murray State at 3 p.m. at the WKU Softball Field. Morehead State, Indiana State, and Bowling Green State round out the tournament field. The Lady Toppers play Morehead State Saturday, Feb. 25 at 3 p.m. and Bowling Green State at 5 p.m. On Sunday, Feb. 26 WKU wraps up the tournament with a 3 p.m. game against Indiana State.