By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech softball team will close out its non-conference schedule on Wednesday as the Golden Eagles host Western Kentucky.
First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. and the games will be streamed on ESPN+ (subscription required) with Dylan Vazzano providing the call.
The Hilltoppers come into the Tech Softball Field with a 29-9 record, including a 12-3 mark in Conference USA play. WKU has won six of its last 10 games and took two of three games this past weekend against North Texas.
The all-time series between the two teams is even at 8-8, with the Golden Eagles taking both meetings against the Hilltoppers last season in Chattanooga.
Offensively, Kendall Smith leads WKU at the plate, hitting .358 with eight doubles, one triple and eight home runs as well as a team-high 34 RBI. Rebekah Engelhardt also has eight home runs.
Kennedy Sullivan (.306) has 25 RBI, while Jordan Thomas (.298) has 26.
The Hilltoppers are also aggressive on the bases, stealing 73 of 85 attempts, led by Shannon Plese with 14 steals and Engelhardt with 12.
As a team, Western Kentucky is hitting .296, collecting 98 extra-base hits with 55 doubles, seven triples and 36 home runs. The Hilltoppers have outscored their opponents 209-107.
In the circle, WKU has a staff earned run average of 2.63 with opponents hitting .196.
Shelby Nunn has a team-best 1.96 ERA with a 5-0 record, but the bulk of the innings and wins go to Sullivan and Kelsey Aikey. Sullivan has posted a 15-3 record with a 3.13 ERA through 111 2/3 innings with 81 walks and 149 strikeouts. Aikey has a 9-6 record and a 2.25 ERA in 81 innings of work, walking 48 and striking out 117.
Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles have won four of their last 10 games, splitting four of its last five Ohio Valley Conference series. Tech went 3-3 this past week, halving its schedule between Jacksonville State, Tennessee State and Belmont.
The WKU series is the start of a regular-season ending eight-game homestand for the Golden Eagles.
Beth McCulley leads Tech at the plate with a .367 batting average, while Sydney Love-Baker has a team-high 10 home runs and 26 RBI. Gabby LaSala (.284, 24 RBI), Raleigh Lewis (.281, 23 RBI), Alexis Trimiar (.221, 22 RBI) and Hallie Davis (.179, 21 RBI) all have over 20 RBI on the season.
As a team, Tech is hitting .258 with 81 extra-base hits – 40 doubles, four triples and 38 home runs. Tech has been outscored 185-171. Three of the Golden Eagles' last five losses have come by one run – all walk-offs.
In the circle, the Golden Eagles have a 4.23 ERA with opponents hitting .265. Alyssa Arden has a team-best 2.91 ERA with an 11-9 record. In 120 1/3 innings, she has walked 60 and struck out 99 with opponents hitting .221. Haeli Bryson (3-6, 5.31) and Kayla Hughes (4-5, 5.63) have combined for 118 innings pitched.