Tops Launch Five Homers in Series-Opening Win Against FIU
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – For the first time since 2013, WKU Softball saw Hilltoppers strike for back-to-back-to-back home runs in the third inning of Friday night’s 9-5 win over FIU. If that wasn’t enough, WKU went for back-to-back homers again in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead for good. Five different players connected for WKU’s five home runs in the win.
“We scored first but then we were tested,” opened WKU head coach Amy Tudor. “I was proud of how we responded to that with big bats. Our hitters made great adjustments, especially the five who all hit homers.”
FIU connected for one hit in frames one through five before striking for four in the Panthers’ big sixth inning. The lone inning FIU was retired in order was the top of the seventh to close the game.
Jordan Ridge struck for WKU’s first hit to lead off the second inning and Randi Drinnon followed with a walk to move Ridge into scoring position. Abby Newman struck for her sixth two-out RBI of the season, sending a base hit back up the middle to plate Ridge from second for 1-0 Hilltopper lead. WKU would end up stranding the bases loaded in the frame.
In the Hilltoppers’ third-inning trip to the plate, WKU saw Taylor Sanders, Jordan Ridge and Bailey Curry connect for back-to-back-to-back home runs to push the Hilltoppers’ lead to 4-0. The feat was the first time since April 13, 2013, when it occurred against ULM as Amanda Thomas, Kelsie Mattox and Mallorie Sulaski accomplished the feat.
WKU’s trio of current hitters did so in the span of six pitches – Sanders struck on a 1-0 count, Ridge was a 2-0 count and Curry swung on the first pitch.
Curry added another RBI in the bottom of the fourth with a sacrifice fly that scored Taylor Davis for the 5-0 lead.
In FIU’s next trip to the plate, the Panthers would load the bases – the first time they had multiple runners on board – but Shelby Nunn and the Hilltopper defense would work out of it.
WKU would strand a pair of runners on base in the bottom of the fifth, putting up their first zero on the scoreboard since the first inning.
FIU came all the way back to tie the game at 5-5 in the top of the sixth, sending 10 batters to the plate in the frame. Katie Gardner came in in relief in the inning and would work the remainder of the game, ultimately taking the decision in the circle.
Responding right back in the bottom of the sixth, WKU batted through the order adding two more home runs and ultimately scoring four runs for a 9-5 lead. Due up in the frame was the trio of home run hitters in the 4-5-6 slots but the long balls would come from the 7 and 8 holes in Maddie Bowlds – a three-run go-ahead homer – and Drinnon for back-to-back shots.
Bowlds’ homer ended a hitting slump that dated back to game two of the UTEP series.
Gardner improved to 6-2 on the season with the win after working 1.1 innings. She allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out two Panthers.
Ridge (2) and Davis (2) both recorded multi-hit performances in the win while Curry (2) and Bowlds (3) added multi-RBI efforts.
WKU would improve to 23-7 on the season with the win and is now 7-3 in Conference USA play. FIU fell to 1-6 in league play with the loss and 15-18 overall.