Western Kentucky 11, Alabama State 1 (F/5)
ATLANTA – Western Kentucky University used a pair of home runs to power past Alabama State University, 11-1 in five innings in the opener of the National Invitational Softball Championships (NISC) at the Bob Heck Softball Field Tuesday afternoon.
Alabama State (21-34) jumped on top of Western Kentucky (30-29) in the first inning when Valerie Centeno connected on a solo home run over the right field fence for a 1-0 lead. Kendall Core followed with a single down the left field line, hit number 211 for her career – leaving her just four short of the school record in the category – however, she was left stranded to end the inning.
The Hilltoppers took advantage of three hits in the bottom of the first inning, including a lead-off infield single by Kara Brewer to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt and a line out to Laura Aguilar, Jordan Maugh singled up the middle to score Brewer to tie the game at 1-all. The Hilltoppers took the lead when Brittany Vaughn hit a two-run home run just out of the reach of left fielder Therese Byrne for a 3-1 lead.
The Lady Hornets got a pair of runners on in the second when Diauna Nelson and Alexia Boggess recorded back-to-back one-out singles, but were stranded at first and second to end the inning. Western Kentucky took advantage and scored a single run in the second inning with a sacrifice fly by Kelley McGuffin to push the lead to 4-1.
WKU added three more runs in the third and four more in the fourth inning for the final margin.
Alabama State had their chances in the contest, getting runners to second in the final three (third, fourth and fifth) innings. Byrne got there in the third on a lead-off walk and a sac bunt by Centeno; while Boggess got there in the fourth with a two-out double. The Lady Hornets got a pair of runners on in the top of the fifth inning, but the contest ended with three straight outs.
Boggess finished 2-for-2 for the Lady Hornets, who were held to just six hits by Western Kentucky’s Haylee Towers (7-12) who finished with a complete game effort. Meanwhile, Justine Jean (8-14) suffered the loss, logging 2.2 innings in the circle and allowing seven runs (all earned) on eight hits while walking six. Charlene Castro came out of the bullpen for the third time in four games and logged 1.1 innings, scattering three hits and allowing four runs (all earned).
Alabama State faces UT-Martin tomorrow at 1 p.m. (est) in an elimination contest at the Bob Heck Softball Field. The two teams met earlier this season with UT-Martin using an 11-run second inning to defeat Alabama State, 14-6 in Montgomery back in February.