BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — The WKU softball team was held to two runs on Saturday afternoon by South Alabama, losing both games of the Sun Belt Conference doubleheader by scores of 5-1 and 2-1 at the WKU Softball Field.
South Alabama (17-6, 5-0 Sun Belt) scored first in the opening game as a Haley Richards double brought Haley Hopkins in to score, putting the Jaguars ahead 1-0. Hopkins put the visitors ahead 2-0, leading off the top of the fourth with a home run over the left field fence. The Jaguars' Hannah Campbell held WKU (18-10, 3-2) hitless until the bottom of the fourth when Preslie Cruce singled up the middle with one out for the Lady Toppers' first hit of the day. Amanda Thomas then knocked a base hit to left field, giving WKU runners at first and second with one out. After a flyout, Mallorie Sulaski hit a ball to Brittany Fowler at shortstop. Fowler's throw to first was in the dirt, allowing Sulaski to reach. Cruce rounded third and came home, beating the throw from Meghan Collins at first base to make the score 2-1.
The Jaguars grew their lead in the top of the fifth. With the bases loaded and two out, Katy Neal hit a two-RBI single to centerfield to give South Alabama a 4-1 lead. Campbell took over from there for the Jaguars, allowing two hits in the final three innings as South Alabama added a final run in the top of the seventh for the 5-1 win. She finished the game with eight strikeouts, allowing four hits and no walks for the complete game win. Emily Rousseau, WKU's starting pitcher, struck out four in seven innings while allowing nine hits and two walks.
Both Neal for South Alabama and Kim Wagner for the Lady Toppers kept the offenses at bay through the first two innings of the nightcap. Wagner found herself in a bit of a jam in the top of the third. Britany Campbell reached on an error with one out, then stole second base. Alyssa Linn singled to centerfield, then took second base on the throw into the infield as Campbell got to third. Blair Johnson then flied out to Kelsie Mattox in left field. Campbell tagged but was thrown out at home by Mattox to end the inning.
WKU then got on the board in the bottom half of the inning. Karavin Dew led off the inning with a walk, then stole second base. Olivia Watkins dropped a sacrifice bunt to move Dew to third with one out. Shawna Sadler then grounded out to Richards at second base, scoring Dew to give the Lady Toppers' a 1-0 lead.
South Alabama had a chance to tie the game in the top of the fifth. Julie Moss led off the inning with a flyball to left field that was dropped by Mattox, allowing Moss to reach second. After Richards put down a sacrifice bunt to move Moss to third, Alex Breeden hit into a fielder's choice. Thomas threw home and got Moss trying to score for the second out. Wagner then got Campbell to ground out to end the inning. The Lady Toppers then had an opportunity to increase their lead in the bottom half of the fifth. Dew led off with a single and a steal of second. Watkins then hit an infield single, but Dew was thrown out at home by the first baseman Collins. With Watkins on third, Shawna Sadler drew a walk to give WKU runners at the corners with one out. Mattox then hit a fly ball to the leftfielder Linn. Watkins bolted for home, but was ruled to have left third before the ball was caught, putting her out to end the inning.
The Jaguars put together another threat in the sixth. Johnson hit a one-out single, then got to third as Fowler doubled to right center. With Kaitlyn Griffith pinch-running for Johnson, Wagner struck out Collins for the second out of the inning. Wagner then walked Christin Crocker to load the bases for Moss. With a full count on her, Moss drew a walk to bring Griffith in to score, tying the game at 1-1. Wagner struck out Richards to end the inning, her sixth strikeout of the game.
With WKU going down in order in the bottom of the sixth, the Jaguars got a lead-off double by Alex Breeden in the top of the seventh. Breeden advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Britany Campbell. After a groundout by Linn, Johnson stepped up to the plate with two outs. Johnson hit a groundball that Wagner bobbled, allowing Breeden to score and give South Alabama a 2-1 lead. After getting the win in game one, Hannah Campbell came on to pitch the seventh for the Jaguars. Laura Smith led off the inning with a double. Dew advanced Smith to third on a sacrifice, putting the tying run at third with one out. Campbell, however, got Watkins to fly out and struck out Sadler to end the game.
Wagner allowed just six hits and two runs, one earned, in seven innings in game two. Neal gave up four hits and three walks in six hits, earning the win. WKU had five hits in game two, but committed three errors in the nightcap.
The Lady Toppers and Jaguars will wrap up their Sun Belt Conference series on Sunday at 12 p.m. at the WKU Softball Field.