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SETTING A LEGACY WKU wins first C-USA regular season title


HERALD Volume 96, Issue 25

Week of April 13, 2021


Week of April 13, 2021

Miles (and a virus) apart: How long distance couples are navigating COVID-19 By McKenna Mitchell

Long distance relationships were already considered difficult before the COVID-19 pandemic. With the amount of travel, money and planning involved in a long distance relationship, COVID-19 added a new obstacle for many couples to overcome. When COVID-19 was declared a national emergency on March 13, 2020, travel became more restricted and people began staying home more. In 2020, there was a 42% decline in annual travel compared to 2019, according to the U.S. Travel Association. International travel took the biggest hit in annual

decline. Now, over a year after the pandemic began, four couples are still learning how to maintain their relationships and avoid the virus while being far apart. Mallory Milliken, 18, and Devin Grimm, 19, are making time for each other while living on different continents. Ashley Schweitzer, 20, and Sergio Diaz, 19, are crossing state lines to be able to avoid the restrictions that would keep them apart. Mallory & Devin Bowling GreenGermany When Mallory Milliken graduated from high school, she had one thing in mind: to not have a boyfriend. She was on track to start

at WKU in the fall 2020 nursing program. After a serious relationship in high school, Mallory wanted nothing more than to stay single for college. That is, until Devin came along. “It was just crazy, honestly,” Mallory said. “Like, we just fell in love and it sounds so cheesy, it sounds like a movie.” Mallory met Devin Grimm through mutual friends in the early summer of 2020 and the early days of the pandemic. Mallory said he begged her to go on a date with him when she initially resisted, trying to stick to her staying-singlepact with herself. But the first date stretched into multiple dates until the two were officially together on

May 27. “I was like, I don't want a boyfriend, absolutely not,” Mallory said. “He begged me to go on a date with him and I was like, well if I go on a date with him, doesn't mean I’m going to have a boyfriend. Now, here I am.” Devin is a military policeman stationed in Fort Campbell, Tennessee. When the two met, Devin told her he had an upcoming deployment rotation to Germany “for a couple of months.” After a few more dates, Devin was finally honest with her about the fact that his deployment was actually 10 months long. After a happy summer together, Devin left for his rotation in Ger-


Week of April 13, 2021 many “for a couple of months.” After a few more dates, Devin was finally honest with her about the fact that his deployment was actually 10 months long. After a happy summer together, Devin left for his rotation in Germany on July 27, 2020. The separation was hard for Mallory, she said, but she started off by telling herself to get through the first month. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions in Germany, Mallory is still unable to fly to visit Devin. According to the U.S. Embassy in Germany, they are currently not allowing U.S. citizens to enter the country unless they fall into certain exceptions. The couple will have to remain apart with no visits until Devin returns from his rotation in May. “I kind of just had to put on my big girl pants and suck it up, for a lack of better words,” Mallory said. For Devin, the distance was hard for him too, but it showed him new things to love about Mallory. “Her patience for me is probably one of my favorite things (about her),” Devin said. Since he has been overseas, Devin said Mallory has made him feel included in the holidays he was missing like Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day by sending him care packages. His favorite present – that he specifically asked for, he said with a laugh – is a miniature inflatable “tube man” or “air dancer” usually seen at car dealerships. In order to work with the 7-hour time difference between Kentucky and Germany, Devin started working the night shifts so he can be awake when Mallory is awake. The two also have FaceTime meal dates– Devin’s dinner in the evening when it's Mallory’s lunch in the afternoon– sometimes followed by a long distance movie date. “He always puts effort into our relationship,” Mallory said.

When Devin returns to the U.S. in May, he will continue working at Fort Campbell, and Mallory will be able to go home for the summer to have a momentary pause on their long distance relationship. When she returns to WKU for the following year, the couple will be an hour and a half apart, a sizable difference from the 7-hour time difference and thousands of miles to Germany. Mallory is optimistic about their relationship because their timelines match up near perfectly: She will be graduating from WKU the same year Devin’s contract with the military will be over. Until then Mallory is grateful for her relationship with Devin and everything it has taught her. “It's made me a lot more mature because you can't fight over dumb things and you can't let little things get in the way of your relationship,” Mallory said. “You really have to trust your person, so I think it definitely has made our relationship a lot stronger.” Ashley & Sergio Bowling GreenNew York When Ashley Schweitzer went to visit her boyfriend in New York, she didn’t actually fly into the state. Instead, she flew into New Jersey where her boyfriend, Sergio Diaz, drove three hours to pick her up. Then they drove back over state lines to avoid any evidence of Ashley’s traveling into the state. Ashley and Sergio met in high school and began long distance when they both left for college. Sergio studies electrical computer engineering at Cornell University while Ashley studies nursing at WKU. Their freshman year and newlylong-distant relationship was going smoothly until the COVID-19 pandemic began. They started having weekly Facetime lunch dates and even started writing letters. The distance is hard for the both of

them, but Ashley said they make it work. “It's kind of at the point where you don't really have a choice, you just kind of have to accept it,” Ashley said. “That's where I'm at with it.” Now, the couple has to avoid the new Cornell and New York state restrictions that would keep them from being able to visit each other. Domestic travelers were originally required to quarantine after entering New York. On April 1, this restriction was lifted by the governor but is still a recommendation for travelers entering the state. Sergio said he also had to sign a document agreeing that he would not travel during his semesters at Cornell in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. At one point, he was even getting COVID tested three times a week. Along with that agreement, Sergio is not supposed to have visitors on campus. For the fall 2020 semester, Sergio agreed to the terms and wasn’t able to see Ashley for almost 100 days. But this semester, Ashley decided to visit Sergio despite his agreement. In order to work around all the restrictions, Ashley flew into an airport in New Jersey. This allowed her to avoid the quarantine rule New York state previously had in place. Sergio picked her up and brought her back to Cornell. “I’d say it's semi-enforced, in terms of like, as long as [Cornell doesn’t] find out it's not enforced,” Sergio said. When Ashley and Sergio aren’t able to visit each other, they still keep in touch with their weekly virtual dates and daily phone calls. “This year it's been a little bit more tough because of COVID,” Sergio said. “We talk every day, I'd say, which helps a lot in terms of at least getting to see her even if it's through a computer screen.” Ashley said her and Sergio talk

about their future plans and life together after college. “I feel like with long distance it's very hard to stay together if you don't have a common goal,” Ashley said. “If you don't see a purpose or like a future for your relationship, it's kind of hard to do long distance because it's kind of like, ‘What's the point?’” Aside from their future plans, they also hope for a future beyond COVID-19. Both Ashley and Sergio received their vaccines in order to do their part in ending the pandemic that is making the distance between themselves and others feel even farther.

Read the full story featuring anecdotes from two other couples on WKUHerald.


Week of April 13, 2021

Non-stop semesters have increased student burnout By Herald Editorial Board

Print edition published weekly by WKU Student Publications at Western Kentucky University. First copy: free | Additional copies: $1


Laurel Deppen Editor-in-chief Ellie Tolbert Managing editor Nick Fuller Digital director Lily Burris Assignment editor Michael J. Collins Digital news editor Nick Kieser Sports editor

Loren Gaskin Community editor Gabi Broekema Sam Mallon Multimedia editors Zachery McClain Social media manager Megan Fisher Design editor Hannah Crisp Copy desk chief

OTHER LEADERS AND ADVISERS Robin Robinson Distribution manager Brian Kehne Advertising manager Emma Spainhoward Cherry Creative director

Carrie Pratt Herald adviser Will Hoagland Advertising adviser Chuck Clark Student Publications director


Opinions expressed in the College Heights Herald are those of student editors and journalists and do not necessarily represent the views of WKU. Student editors determine all news and editorial content, and reserve the right to edit or reject submissions.


REPORT AN ERROR: herald.editor@wku.edu 270-745-5044 NEWSROOM: herald.news@wku.edu 270-745-2653 or 270-745-5044 ADVERTISING: herald.advertising@wku.edu 270-745-6285 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: herald.opinion@wku.edu ON CAMPUS: Adams-Whitaker Student Publications Center, 1660 Normal St. ONLINE: WKUHerald.com NEWSLETTER: WKUHerald.com/newsletter SOCIAL MEDIA: • Twitter: @wkuherald, @wkuheraldsports • Facebook, Instagram: WKUHerald • YouTube: wkuheraldvideo • Tiktok: wkuherald

The Issue: Students are burnt out and tired after two non-stop semesters. Without fall or spring break, students haven’t been given permission to rest with classes and outside responsibilities piling up. Our Stance: WKU should have done more for the mental health of their students while focusing so much on their physical health. WKU is trying its best. The university is trying to take care of the physical health of students during the pandemic, but students’ mental health has been left behind. The well-intentioned efforts of the university to keep students on campus and safe from the coronavirus, and from spreading the coronavirus, has resulted in two non-stop semesters. Both fall and spring breaks were canceled. Additionally, what has traditionally been a six-week winter term, turned into a five-week winter term this year. It’s hard to imagine a student that isn’t beyond exhausted. Regular semesters are plenty stressful and exhausting. Personal issues from loss to health struggles continue on. No one ever really runs around claiming college is easy. However, regular semesters have a few glorious days where most professors can’t add to the assignment list and students are encouraged to be away from campus, either at home or on vacation. Many students hit a wall this year when the time for spring break came around and they were still

on campus attending lectures and receiving assignments.The closest this campus saw to time off this semester was the days canceled for snow in February, barely a month into the semester. The most faculty, staff and students received was encouragement from Interim Provost Cheryl Stevens to take the days off from work. This didn’t stop assignments from being in syllabuses and having looming deadlines on Blackboard. It really just felt like a few less days that people were obligated to answer their emails. This was not exactly the break many had in mind when they imagined time off this spring. Being stressed out and overwhelmed can cause a variety of responses. People can become exhausted. Their executive function skills may start to go away. Others may have panic attacks or insomnia. People already experienced these symptoms during the work overload last semester. These things show up in people in many subtle ways, but it would be nearly impossible to call any of them good. Some universities took away spring break and instead implemented mental health days – random days off, often in the middle of the week, for students to rest. Although it seems that many students still just worked the whole day. This idea was presented at a WKU Faculty Senate meeting but was eventually dismissed. Taking away spring break did not prevent students from traveling.

Plenty still went to the beach for a week or long weekend filled with sun, sand and possibly partying. Students just declared it was time for a break and went. This, of course, kind of defeats the physical health benefits of trying to keep students on campus as much as possible. Resources intended for mental health help like the Counseling Center and the college's emails about dogs on campus aren’t enough to make up for the valuable time off provided by spring break. Getting in with the Counseling Center can often take weeks and not everyone is going to connect with the counselors available. These things don’t address issues like homesickness or simply being overwhelmed by the proximity to campus. Many will say WKU is trying its best, and in many regards, it probably is. But students’ mental health has fallen to the wayside amid efforts of “doing their best” on other issues. Students’ irregular schedules and more than nine-to-five existence puts a drain on them that continuous school only worsens. So, did WKU do a lot to make the best out of a difficult year? Yes, it would be incorrect to say otherwise. But the university should have taken mental health into better consideration when planning for this year.


WKU Herald 4/13/21 Trivia Puzzle

KU Herald 4/13/21 Crossword


Authors' Who's Who 9




1. Who wrote Black Beauty? (a) Anna Sewell (b) Richard Adams (c) T. S. Eliot 15 16 2. Who wrote the short story The Tell-Tale Heart? (a) Clive Barker (b) Agatha Christie (c) Edgar Allan Poe 3. Which of the following is NOT a book by Robin Cook? 19 (a) Coma (b) Nemesis (c) Sphinx 4. What was author George Sand's real name? 22 (a) Amantine Dupin (b) Jannine Bois (c) Mary Anne Evans 25 26 5. Jaws was written by which Benchley? (a) Nathaniel (b) Peter (c) Robert 6. Mike Hammer was a character created by which author? (a) Rex Stout (b) Ngaio Marsh (c) Mickey Spillane 7. Who wrote The IPCRESS File? 33 34 35 (a) Eric Ambler (b) Jack Higgins (c) Len Deighton 8. How many Sherlock Holmes novels did Conan Doyle 39 write? (a) 10 (b) 4 (c) 22 43 9. Who wrote the thriller Bloodline? WKU Herald 4/13/21 Sudoku(a)1Sidney Sheldon (b) Jeffrey Archer (c) John Grisham 46 47 10. Which of the following is NOT a novel by Umberto Eco? WKU Herald 9/8/20 Sudoku 1 (a) The Name of the Rose (b) Memoirs of a Madman Puzzle 50 (c) The Prague Cemetary

To solve the Sudoku puzzle, each row, column and box must contain the numbers 1 to 9.

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Solution M P E R

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Last week's crossword solution:

To solve the Sudoku puzzle, each row, column and box must contain the numbers 1 to 9.

4 9 7 8 2 5 3 6 1

13 14 Sandpiper Lingerie item 18 17 Painter Chagall 20 21 Declare Inadvisable 23 24 action Detached 30 27 28 29 Cuzco’s country 31 32 Wood sorrels Birth-related 37 38 36 Orange kin Buddy 42 40 41 Met display 44 45 High spirits Scarlett O’Hara, 48 49 e.g. “So soon?” 51 52 53 54 55 56 Early evictee 59 60 58 Like some humor 57 Nativity nursery 62 63 61 Trouser part Personal quirk 64 65 66 Sweet potato Copyright ©2021 PuzzleJunction.com Fortune Clans 10 Like some 63 Thunder sound 37 Adolescent Thai river 64 Soaks, as flax desserts 38 Jabber Stars and Stripes 11 Service 65 Glasgow gal 41 VIP, usually land organization 66 Achilles, e.g. 42 Shangri-la Piece of men’s 12 Raccoon relative 45 Relating to the jewelry Down 16 Kind of collar spleen Liabilities 21 Bard’s “before” 46 Twosome Camisole 1 Spellbound 25 Ice cream flavor 47 Improve, in a Juliet, to Romeo 26 Mischief 2 Part of the eye way Donations 27 Boxing prize 3 Terrarium plant 48 Bucket Vaporize 4 Penny-pinching 28 Constantly 49 Patriarch Salmon River 5 Sound of 29 Lawful 50 Gushes locale contempt 30 Rainbow’s shape 53 Ancient greetings Church section 32 “Saturday Night 6 Places 54 Competent Wild goat 7 Fatuously Fever” music 55 Drop from Niobe Pretend 8 Charlatan 34 Party thrower 56 Really big show From square one 9 "___ overboard!" 35 J.F.K. postings 58 Switch settings

N E 1.a 6.c D S 2.cS S 7.c 3.bA 8.b I N 4.a 9.a Sudoku Solution R E 5.b 10.b E W Sudoku Solution S S

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rote Black Beauty? na Sewell (b) Richard Adams (c) T. S. Eliot rote the short story The Tell-Tale Heart? ive Barker (b) Agatha Christie (c) Edgar Allan Poe of the following is NOT a book by Robin Cook? ma (b) Nemesis (c) Sphinx was author George Sand's real name? antine Dupin (b) Jannine Bois (c) Mary Anne

46 48 50 51 52 57


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(b) 4 (c) 22 rote the thriller Bloodline? ney Sheldon (b) Jeffrey Archer (c) John Grisham of the following is NOT a novel by Umberto Eco? e Name of the Rose (b) Memoirs of a Madman e Prague Cemetary

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JUST JAMMIN' Musicians gather in Horse Cave for weekly jam session, a tradition of Hart County for over 13 years

Colin Grant-Adams (left), watches as 16-yearold Isaac Husley plays the theme song to Mortal Combat on his guitar. Husley is from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and said he was in town visiting the Hidden River Cave with his grandmother. He said it was interesting to perform with the Jammin’ on the Porch group, especially since they mostly play classic country, blues and bluegrass. “I’ve always played classics so it was like trying something new,” he said. “Everybody was nice here.”

For more than 15 years, Jammin’ on the Porch has taken place in the city of Horse Cave at various locations. Every Thursday night, a group of men varying from a retired teacher to a lifelong musician gather to play classic country, bluegrass and some of their own written songs.

Week of April 13, 2021


(LEFT) Cecil Glass, a 77-year-old retiree, jams on a steel guitar with his friends at the Bookstore on April 8. Glass is one of several men who make up the weekly jam sessions, a group that includes a retired school teacher and, for the night of April 8, a 16-year-old from Chattanooga, Tennessee. (BELOW) James Bailey retired from teaching at Barren County High School in 1997. Now, he spends Thursday nights performing with several other men at the Bookstore, a book shop located in Horse Cave.


Week of April 13, 2021

New provost to promote student success By Jacob Latimer

Robert “Bud” Fischer is excited to make the transition to be WKU’s new provost this fall after his time at Middle Tennessee State University. Fischer will be taking over after Interim Provost Cheryl Stevens steps down and retires on June 30. Previously, he was the dean of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences at MTSU. Fischer attended State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York, where he received a bachelor’s degree in ecology, and State University College at Buffalo where he received a master’s degree in environmental biology. He later

attended the University of South Carolina where he received his doctorate in evolutionary biology. “My parents understood that education was probably the most important thing for me and my brothers to get, and so I never remember a time where we weren’t headed to college,” Fischer said. After working at Savannah River Ecology Lab in South Carolina, his boss directed him towards an opportunity to teach biology at USC Aiken. Fischer stated that he had never wanted to teach before this but talked to the biology chair and began teaching. “I knew two weeks into teaching that I needed to go get a PhD., because I loved the campus, and I

Starbucks @ DSU composts their coffee grounds AND uses Recycleable & Paper Cups!

loved the students and the class,” Fischer said. “There was so much energy and so much excitement.” After getting his doctorate and teaching at USC Aiken, he moved to Eastern Illinois University and taught there for 15 years. Knowing that he wanted to be a chair, Fischer spent four and a half years at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and moved to MTSU after that. Student success is No. 1 in Fischer’s book, and he hopes to promote that once he begins at WKU. He stated that he has already enjoyed meeting students during the time he has spent on campus. “Part of the reason I’m excited for this job is that lots of the values

that they have are the same values you see at this campus,” Fischer said. During his time as a dean at MTSU, the university saw enrollment grow by nearly 1,000, and retention rates increased from 68% to over 80%. Fischer hopes to apply what he learned at MTSU to WKU’s campus. “I’m excited to move an institution forward,” Fischer said. Jacob Latimer can be reached at jacob.latimer745@topper.wku.edu. Follow him on Twitter @jacoblatimer_.

Robert “Bud” U. Fischer Jr. was announced to be the next WKU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs beginning July 1. Photo courtesy of WKU News.


Week of April 13, 2021

Facebook page for women creates community By Ellie Tolbert

Chances are, if you are a girl at WKU, you’ve at least heard of Sorority Swap. For those who haven’t, WKU Sorority Swap is a Facebook page where women at WKU can buy and sell items, ask for suggestions on classes or local businesses, or find housing and roommates. The page was created on April 12, 2017 and now has over 5,700 members. Despite the name, women don’t need to be in a sorority to join the group. Lydia Bowlds, founder of WKU Sorority Swap, wasn’t in a sorority during her time at WKU. She made the page with her freshman year roommate Savannah Allen. Since Bowlds wasn’t in a sorority, it was difficult to get the word out. Allen, who was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta, added her sorority sisters to the page, and it took off from there. “Don’t let the name fool you, you don’t have to be sorority affiliated to be a member,” Bowlds said. “Anyone at WKU identifying as female in any way can join.” She got the idea from a similar page in Lexington, where she’s from. In high school, she was a part of UK Sorority Swap. She said that page was frustrating because it was

too big, making it unreliable and mismanaged. “There were people on that page that never intended to go to UK,” Bowlds said. “There were men and high schoolers. I wanted this to be smaller, keeping it to just WKU students and not just random Bowling Green community members.” She thinks the page has grown so much because it gives women a sense of community. There’s always an influx of members at the beginning of the fall semester because girls are joining sororities, and then slowly non-sorority girls will trickle in throughout the year. Bowlds graduated in 2019 and is currently finishing the master’s program at WKU in organizational communication this May. She’s looking to move to Florida with her boyfriend and is no longer the admin for the page. She said when she made the Facebook page, she never thought it would one day exist without her. “When I was 18, I didn’t think this would have a life outside of me,” Bowlds said. “When I look now, I’m not shocked.” Eleri Dye is one of the current admins for the page. The page was passed down to Dye about a year and a half ago after Bowlds posted

Screenshot of WKU Soroity Swap Facebook group courtesy of Ellie Tolbert

in the group she was looking for new people to take it over. Dye responded to the post, and after a short interview process, Bowlds thought she was a good fit. Dye is also not in a sorority so once she got the job, she brought along her friend Maddie Scott, who is a mem-

"When I was 18, I didn’t

think this would have a life outside of me. When I look now, I’m not shocked." -Lydia Bowlds ber of Chi Omega, to be co-admin. Dye said managing the page isn’t a huge time commitment. Her main job is taking care of requests to join and if someone reports a post. The page is private, so you must request to join. You can be invited by someone already in the group, but the admins must still accept or deny the invitation. When Bowlds started the page, members in the group could add other members, but Dye changed that setting because she realized boys were getting in. “It was set to anyone in the group could accept invitations, but we changed it to just us,” Dye said. “It is just a girl’s group. Sometimes people may post personal information on there.” Dye said she is constantly declining requests to join. When a person requests to join, they are asked two questions: do you go to Western, and do you live in Bowling Green during the school year. If you’re a female who answers yes

to both of those, you will likely be accepted to join the page. She and Scott are also responsible for handling posts that get reported or break the community guidelines of the page. “If someone reports something, I get a notification,” Dye said. “I will message the person to see if they care to change their post, or I’ll just take it down.” She said she is always taking down posts of people trying to sell fake IDs. Although the page isn’t actually WKU affiliated, she doesn’t want people selling anything illegal on a page with the school’s name. Dye graduated WKU in December with a degree in healthcare administration and a certification in long-term care. She plans to pass down the page as well after this semester the same way Bowlds did. Bowlds is happy Sorority Swap is a legacy she can leave with WKU. She said although she doesn’t get much recognition from it, she always enjoys the surprise people have when they learn she started it. She is still deciding whether to leave the page when she moves out of Bowling Green. “I won’t need to be in Bowling Green for any reason, so I will probably eventually leave,” Bowlds said. “I wouldn’t mind to stay though because that’s my baby." Managing Editor Ellie Tolbert can be reached at eleanor.tolbert618@topper.wku.edu. Follow her on Twitter @eleanortolbert4.


Week of April 13, 2021

WKU set to play MTSU in 1st conference matchup

By Jake Moore

WKU Softball (15-6) will begin Conference USA play with a four-game away series against Middle Tennessee State University (18-17) April 16-18. WKU was originally scheduled to open C-USA play against Marshall, but the series was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test in WKU’s Tier 1 testing group. It is still unknown when the series will be made up. The Hilltoppers are looking for some momentum after losing 5-2 to the No. 5 Florida Gators over the weekend and dropping an exhibition game against Canada’s Softball Olympic Team, a matchup that saw former Hilltopper and British Columbia native Larissa Franklin play against her former head coach Amy Tudor. Franklin played all 50 games for WKU during the 2015 season and hit a two-run home run during the exhibition against her former team. “Being able to play against Team Canada was an awesome opportunity

for our program and we are grateful for that opportunity,” Tudor said after the game. “It was great to see Franklin and for the team to see one of our former all-time greats.” In its last three non-exhibition games, WKU has scored four runs and were shut out 1-0 at home by Eastern Kentucky on April 7. WKU has batted .198 during that span and left 25 runners on base. The Hilltoppers’ on-base percentage was a respectable .329 during that period due to a large volume of walks. “With COVID, I think a lot of teams are going through this so obviously we didn't make the adjustments tonight but hopefully this will get us back in the swing of things and we can get a little more consistent with playing games,” Tudor said after the loss to Eastern Kentucky. While the Hilltoppers have played strong top-10 SEC opponents in Kentucky and Florida during this stretch, WKU’s bats will need to thaw out before the team heads to Murfreesboro,

Tennessee. WKU's pitching, however, should not be an issue. Redshirt senior Kelsey Aikey currently holds a 2.95 ERA over 61.2 innings and tied her career-high of 13 strikeouts in WKU’s loss to Eastern Kentucky. Aikey’s performance moved her up to third all-time in program history for strikeouts. Redshirt junior Shelby Nunn has also proven to be a dependable option for Tudor, as she holds a 2.90 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. WKU enters the series on Friday as the only team in C-USA to have not played another C-USA opponent. The Hilltoppers did sweep UAB in three games March 20-21, but the results did not count towards the C-USA record. MTSU currently holds a 4-4 record in C-USA competition, placing the Blue Raiders third in the East Division. Middle Tennessee was picked to finish fourth in the East Division in the C-USA Preseason Coaches Poll. Two Blue Raiders were named to the CUSA Preseason All-Conference Team,

graduate students Lexi Cushing and Summer Burgess. First baseman Cushing currently leads the team with three home runs and shortstop Burgess is slugging a solid .496. Sophomore outfielder Kelci Hill currently leads the Blue Raiders in slugging percentage at .523 and was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle in Middle Tennessee’s win against Marshall on April 11. The Blue Raiders have been led by solid pitching from senior Amber Baldwin and junior Corrina Dodd. The right hander has constructed a 2.77 ERA over 68.1 innings, and Baldwin has put together seven complete games along with a 1.21 WHIP. The two have combined for 71 strikeouts. First pitch from Murfreesboro will come at 6 p.m. on Friday. Softball beat reporter Jake Moore can be reached at charles.moore275@ topper.wku.edu. Follow him on Twitter @Charles_JMoore.


Week of April 13, 2021

Hilltoppers claim first C-USA sweep over Marshall By Wyatt Sparkman

WKU (16-16), (6-6, C-USA) claimed its first Conference USA series of the season against the Marshall Thundering Herd (4-19), (0-12, C-USA) at Nick Denes Field April 9-11. “The desire to win and to be successful transcends throughout the team,” head coach John Pawlowski said Sunday. “I felt like this weekend they all felt very good about where we were at what we were doing, and hitting is contagious.” Pawlowski said regardless of who his team plays they have to establish the way they play. He added he liked how WKU played this weekend. The Hilltoppers went 4-0 against the Thundering Herd and tied their season-high winning streak. “It’s definitely a big confidence booster and a way to walk around with a little bit more pep in your step, but I think we got the guys set for every role and I think the guys will step up and execute the roles as best as they can,” freshman pitcher Luke Stofel said after his win on Sunday. Over the weekend series, the Hilltoppers used five pitchers in four games, while having three consecutive complete games for the

first time since 2005. On Friday, WKU had its first doubleheader where both starting pitchers pitched a complete game on the season. In 14 innings of play, both redshirt sophomore Jake Kates and junior Sean Bergeron allowed one run, while striking out 12 Marshall batters. Kates tossed the first shutout of the season for WKU. He ranks second in C-USA with 63 strikeouts this season. Stofel earned his first win as a Hilltopper Sunday in his 10th appearance this season. He pitched 14 innings total this spring, the most of any freshman pitcher on the team. WKU had eight hits and slashed .190 in the first two games against Marshall at the plate. The Hilltoppers finished the last two games of the series batting .333. Overall the Hilltoppers had 23 hits over the weekend and outscored Marshall in the series 19-4. Sophomore Jackson Gray slashed for .700 against the Thundering Herd, while compiling 5 RBIs with a walk-off homerun in game one of the series. Gray also leads the conference in batting average, slashing for .400 As a team, WKU bats .258, which is second best in C-USA, and lead

the conference in doubles with 72. “We feel great as a team at the plate,” Gray said. “There is no doubt this whole season this would eventually happen. I knew the potential of this offense, so I’m not surprised that we finally came around.” Up next for the Hilltoppers is the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (16-14-1), (5-6-1, C-USA). The Blue Raiders are coming off a 3-1 series loss to Texas San Antonio by a combined score of 28-14. The Blue Raiders rank fourth in C-USA in ERA with a 3.88, while also having the fourth most strikeouts in the conference with 272 on the season. Middle Tennessee State’s junior Aaron Brown leads the conference with 68 strikeouts, while allowing opposing batters to bat .180 against him on the season. Baseball beat reporter Wyatt Sparkman can be reached at steve. sparkman280@topper.wku.edu. Follow Wyatt on Twitter at @WyattSparkman3

ALLIE HENDRICKS WKU pitcher Devyn Terbrak (43) pitches during the game at Nick Denes Field on April 10. WKU won 5-2.


Week of April 13, 2021

Holding the rope: WKU wins C-USA East Division By Nick Kieser

All the WKU Soccer program needed in the 2021 regular season finale was 40 seconds. Junior Lyric Schmidt’s push pass floated right toward the Charlotte net, and sophomore Katie Erwin headed the ball past senior goalkeeper Abby Stapelton. Erwin’s first collegiate match win etched WKU’s name into program history, claiming the first Conference USA regular season title. This is the Lady Toppers’ first regular season title since 2013 being a member of the Sun Belt conference. “This has been our team’s goal the whole time, is to set a legacy for ourselves,” Erwin said after winning

the title. “We have another week of play to complete that legacy.” Head Coach Jason Neidell said the program has been talking about winning championships for the last couple of years. “This has been a group that’s been disciplined and determined and committed through this whole thing and never wanted to use the pandemic as an excuse for anything,” Neidell said. “They rolled up their sleeves and got to work and grinded. Now they get all the rewards of their efforts.” This season’s theme for WKU was holding the rope, which means each player has their part on the team to be successful this spring. The road to posting the best re-

WYATT RICHARDSON WKU defender, Ellie Belcher (11) headbutts the ball during the game against Charlotte on Friday, April 9.

cord in the C-USA East Division was not an easy one. According to the WKU Big Red Restart Plan, the Lady Toppers arrived on the Hill on July 6, and three weeks later experienced its first positive case of COVID-19. As a result, Neidell shut it all down as soon as there was an inkling that one of his athletes displayed symptoms. “It really, really stunk,” Neidell said in September. “All of these parents have entrusted me with the health and care of their daughters. That’s my primary responsibility is to make sure we are keeping these kids safe.” July 27 was when the first positive case surfaced, but the program already had a planned break for three days later; it just started sooner. Neidell said the program is in a much better place because of going through that process. “Really grateful for the opportunity to coach the game that I love to coach and for our players to be able to get out on the field and compete and play the game they love,” Neidell said. He added that the pandemic has reminded us to appreciate these moments and that was one of the messages he told his team prior to playing Charlotte. “This was a defining moment for our team, and they lived the moment tonight,” Neidell said. WKU finishes the regular season allowing seven goals, which is the fewest in conference play. The Lady Toppers also finished with 19 goals scored, the third most in C-USA. Sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Kobylinski held down the fort in net this season, posting a C-USA best four shutouts. Junior Ambere Barnett paced the Lady Toppers offensively notching six goals and 14 points this spring.

“The momentum has been building up since July and to be able to follow through with the goals we set almost a year ago — it’s special,” Erwin said. Senior captain Avery Jacobsen will make her second appearance in the postseason during her time on the Hill. In Jacobsen’s first two seasons the Lady Toppers missed the playoffs and posted a combined record of 12-17-5. Jacobsen said prior to the first exhibition match of the season she felt like this was a team that could bring a C-USA trophy back to Bowling Green. “Winning a conference championship is particularly meaningful for her,” Neidell said of Jacobsen. “She has seen the highs and lows of this program.” Neidell said the 20 years he’s been head coach has gone by in the blink of an eye. “A lot of gratefulness for the opportunity to be here and be here for as long as I can because it’s not normal,” Neidell said. Neidell said the Lady Toppers will rest and recover prior to the first game of the postseason against Alabama-Birmingham on April 13 at 11 a.m. The Lady Toppers previously played UAB in an exhibition match back on Oct. 23, taking down the Blazers 2-1. WKU will look to win its first conference postseason game since 2013. Sports Editor Nick Kieser can be reached at nick.kieser036@topper. wku.edu. Follow Nick on Twitter at @ KieserNick.

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