COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Western Kentucky University softball team split its two games in the Palmetto Classic Saturday, beating Winthrop 8-5 before falling to the host South Carolina 5-4 in eight innings at Beckham Field. Junior Mallorie Sulaski was 3-for-6 at the plate in the two games with four RBI, while Kelsie Mattox was had two RBI and five runs scored on the day.
WKU (2-1) got out to a quick lead in its game against Winthrop (1-1). Starting pitcher Brittanie Albright kept the Eagles off the scoreboard in the top of the first inning. In the bottom of the first, Shawna Sadler drew a leadoff walk. Mattox then hit the first home run of the season for the Lady Toppers, putting a Natalie Becker pitch over the right field fence to give WKU a 2-0 lead.
Winthrop responded in the top of the third inning. Megan Chapman led off the inning with a triple to left center field. After McKenzie Corn drew a walk, Chapman scored after an errant throw by Karavin Dew to catch Corn stealing second missed the mark. Chelsey Schoenfeldt tied the game 2-2 when her RBI single scored Corn. The Eagles then took a 3-2 lead on an RBI base hit by Melanie Andrea.
The Lady Toppers came back with three runs of their own in the bottom of the third. It started with a leadoff walk to Mattox. Amanda Thomas then dropped a sacrifice bunt to move Mattox to second. Dew then hit a double to center field to give WKU runners at second and third. After Preslie Cruce walked, Amanda Walden hit a fly ball to left field deep enough to score Mattox and tie the game 3-3. Sulaski gave WKU a 5-3 lead on a 2 RBI double, scoring Dew and Cruce. With Sulaski at third and Katrina Metoyer at first with two outs, the Lady Toppers executed a double steal. Sulaski's steal of home put WKU ahead 6-3. Laura Smith then drove in Metoyer with a single through the right side of the infield to cap a five-run inning for th Lady Toppers, giving them a 7-3 lead.
WKU added a run in the fourth inning on an RBI single by Dew. Winthop scored two runs in the sixth inning to make the score 8-5, but that would be as close as the Eagles would get. Albright took down the Winthrop lineup in order in the seventh to give the Lady Toppers the win. Mattox finished the game 2-for-3 with 2 RBI and three runs scored as Sulaski was 1-for-3 with two RBI. Dew and Metoyer each had a pair of hits in the game. Albright struck out four in seven innings for the complete game win.
The Lady Toppers got their first two batters on base to start the game against South Carolina (1-1). Sadler drew a leadoff walk, followed by Mattox who was hit by a pitch. Cruce then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position. Thomas then hit a double to center field, bringing in Sadler and Mattox to give WKU a 2-0 lead. Starting pitcher Emily Rousseau was dominant in the circle, allowing one hit while striking out five batters in the first four innings.
South Carolina got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth inning. Molly Brossart drew a one-out walk and was pinch-run for by Jackie Slawson. Chelsea Hawkins then hit a single to center field, moving Slawson to third base. Kylie Morin then was brought in to run for Hawkins. The Gamecocks attempted a double-steal with Morin caught at second while Slawson scored to make the score 2-1. South Carolina tied the game 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning on a two-out RBI triple by Kaitlin Westfall.
WKU had a chance to take the lead in the top of the seventh. Sulaski led off the inning with a base hit. After Kellie Quarles and Metoyer both fouled out, Laura Smith hit an infield single to give the Lady Toppers runners at first and second with two outs. Sadler out ends inning. South Carolina had runners at second and third with two outs in the bottom half of the inning, but Rousseau forced Lacey Rother to popout to Cruce at third base to force extra innings.
The Lady Toppers loaded the bases in the eighth with only one out. Thomas then hit into a fielder's choice with shortstop Samie Garcia throwing out Sadler at home. With two outs in a tie game, Sulaski hit a double to left center field to score Mattox and Dew and give WKU a 4-2 lead. South Carolina tied the game 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth on a two-run double by Westfall. After Evan Childs singled to give the Gamecocks runners at first and third with one out, Dana Hathorn singled to left field to bring in Westfall and give South Carolina the 5-4 win.
Sulaski was 2-for-3 at the plate in the South Carolina game with two RBI. Mattox scored twice despite not getting a hit. Rousseau struck out five batters while walking three. Hathorn was 3-for-4 for South Carolina as Westfall had two hits for the Gamecocks. Audrey Broyles earned the win, striking out seven batters in eight innings.
WKU wraps up play at the Palmetto Classic Sunday morning at 9 a.m. against Tennessee State.