(Photo Courtesy of Western Kentucky Athletics)
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—The Western Kentucky University softball team (14-6-1) defeated its highest-ranked opponent in program history, downing No. 2 Tennessee (19-2) by a score of 3-2 on Saturday at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
Senior Emily Rousseau (8-5) threw her best performance of the season, striking out a season-high 10 batters in a complete-game effort. Rousseau allowed five hits with both runs earned. UT’s Rainey Gaffin (3-1) took her first loss while giving up her first earned runs of the season in six appearances, giving up six hits and all three runs in six innings of work. She walked three and struck out three.
At the plate, WKU outhit the Lady Vols 9-5 with junior Preslie Cruce, senior Olivia Watkins and sophomore Brooke Holloway tabbing two hits each. Cruce added one of the Lady Toppers’ runs while Holloway came home for the other two. For UT, Madison Shipman had a pair of hits to lead the team. Both teams saw ample of opportunities to score, as each left seven on base during the contest.
The Lady Toppers struck first in the third, taking a 2-0 lead. Back-to-back singles up the middle by Holloway and Cruce put runners on with one out. After a sacrifice bunt from Watkins moved the runners, senior Amanda Thomas was intentionally walked to bring senior Kelsie Mattox to the plate. The Georgia native then put a double in center field for the two runs.
WKU added a run to its lead in the fifth after Holloway led off the frame with a single. Cruce was hit by pitch for the 14th time this season before a Watkins single loaded the base. Thomas then belted a long fly ball to right field that hit off the wall and scored Holloway.
A two-out two-run home run by Cheyanne Tarango cut the Lady Toppers’ lead to 3-2 in the bottom sixth. After no insurance runs were added in the seventh by WKU, Rousseau and the defense closed the game with two-straight putouts before a strikeout closed the game.
WKU is back in action on Sunday to conclude the tourney, as the Lady Toppers take on Georgia Southern at 8 a.m. CT before facing College of Charleston at 10:30 a.m. CT. Gametracker is available for each game via UTSports.com while in-game updates can be found on Twitter with @WKU_GameDay.