Yes, we are still here.
Sorry for the lack of updates recently guys. With the holidays (Merry belated Christmas!) and other things going on, not to mention the lack of WKU news and games going on. But, we are still here, and today, we debut a brand new series.
With there only being 7 days left in the lovely 2013, I figured what better way to close out the new year than to review the best moments of the Hilltoppers athletic year! Over the next 7 days, we will bring you a moment, either small (a game or event) or big (an entire season), that defined 2013 as a year to remember for WKU fans.
Tonight, we begin with #7 – the 2013 WKU Softball season.
In a word, this past year’s softball squad was dominant. The Lady Toppers, lead by Tyra Perry (who left for Ball State during the summer), finished the year 43-18 and 20-3 in conference, only losing to ULL, North Texas and South Alabama during the regular season, and falling to the Cajuns again in the Sun Belt Tournament before eventually dropping to South Alabama in the SBC Tourney title game, but not before WKU claimed their first ever outright regular-season softball conference crown, and earning themselves a bid in the NCAA regionals, beating USC-Upstate twice, but dropping to Alabama twice.
The 43-18 record proved to be WKU’s best in their 14 seasons of softball, besting the 2002 season, in which WKU put up a 37-22 record. 2013 followed a disapointing 2012 campaign, in which WKU went 33-25-1 and finished in 5th place.
While finishing at the top of the conference in the standings, the Lady Toppers finished 2nd in the SBC in team pitching, with an ERA of 2.24 (although, they did lead the SBC in innings pitched at 404.0 IP) and 3rd in team hitting, with a combined average of .283, along the way scoring 290 runs, knocking 50 home runs and leading the conference in stolen bases with 82.
While 2013 was a true team effort, there were plenty of individual accomplishments to be proud of as well.
Olivia Watkins posted the best single-season batting average since 2003, hitting .378, besting Renita Pennington’s mark of .374 a decade ago. Watkins also posted season bests in runs (49, beating out Jessie Richardson’s 2000 mark of 45) and hits (73, 2 more than what Pennington, also in ’03), and in stolen bases (38, demolishing Pennington’s 2005 number of 28) and stolen base attempts (44, again putting Pennington’s 33 tries in ’05 seem shameful).
Preslie Cruce also put her name on the runs list, with 44, which is good enough for 3rd place.
Two Lady Toppers came within 2 home runs of setting a new HR single season record, Preslie Cruce and Amanda Thomas with 14 each, and Thomas was successful in setting an RBI single season record, driving in 51 teammates.
Arguably, the highlight of the season came in late April, when WKU went to Mizzou and shutout the #11 Tigers 1-0, which was tossed by WKU ace Emily Rousseau.
2013 was exciting on the diamond for the ladies, and with a new head coach (and former WKU player) Amy Tudor at the helm, 2014 should prove to be more of the same.