HONOLULU, Hawai'i-The Western Kentucky University softball team (5-4) posted six hits in its opening game of the Bank of Hawai'i Invitational, but the Lady Toppers would fall 5-1 to No. 20/22 Hawai'i (10-4) on Friday night at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
The team now prepares to take on Campbell at 3 p.m. CT while following that game with a contest against Memphis at 5 p.m. CT on Saturday, March 2.
Sophomore Preslie Cruce went 2-for-3 at the plate while junior Amanda Thomas added the only RBI for WKU. Junior Emily Rousseau (3-2) pitched a majority of the game at 4.1 innings, as she gave up five hits and struck out seven. Senior Mallorie Sulaski came in as relief to allow no hits or runs while fanning three batters in 1.2 innings of work.
Hawai'i opened the bottom half of the first inning with three hits, as a triple started the home team's offense. Immediately following that at-bat, a single to left field put Hawai'i on the board. The Rainbow Wahine stayed aggressive, as the team executed a double steal of second and home to pull ahead 2-0.
A two-run home run over the left field fence allowed Hawai'i to extend its lead in the third to 4-0. The 'Bows then added their final run of the game in the fifth inning with a home run to center.
WKU used three hits in the sixth inning to avoid the shutout, as a junior Olivia Watkins single to short opened the inning. Cruce singled to third the next at-bat followed by junior Kelsie Mattox drawing a walk to load the bases. Thomas then put a shot to left field to score Watkins. The Lady Toppers would not be able to add another run, as the Hawai'i defense put together a double play followed by a strikeout to end the threat.
Following its twin bill against Campbell and Memphis, WKU plays two more games on Sunday, as the tournament takes on a bracket format with seedings, a consolation game and a championship contest.