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Lady Bisons make a visit to the nationally-ranked UT Lady Vols

Monday, March 24, 2008

March 24, 2008

The Lady Bisons softball team is not shying away from competition this season.

Tuesday night they travel to Knoxville to face the University of Tennessee, ranked No. 8 in the country. It will be the second time they have faced a ranked team this season. They played Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Georgia Tech, then ranked 18th, and split with them, winning 11-9 and losing 2-1.

Tennessee is also the second Southeastern Conference team the Lady Bisons have faced this season. They lost 6-1 to Auburn March 9 in the War Eagle Classic in Auburn, Ala.

Last week the Lady Bisons finished 2-2 with a pair of losses at Florida State, their second Atlantic Coast Conference opponent of the season, and a sweep of Atlantic Sun foe Gardner-Webb.

Coach Kristin Peck was disappointed in the way her team performed against Florida State.

"Our pitching was not where it needed to be and our hitters were a little slow in making adjustments," Peck said. "I didn't think we played great at all against Florida State."

The Lady Bisons raised their A-Sun record to 5-1, with all games having been played on the road. The Lady Bisons won the second game 9-4 with shortstop Abby Keese providing the big hit of the game with a three-run homer. They took the first game 5-2 as third baseman Kellie Sirus homered and pitcher Alaina Jacobson threw a complete game.

"We had a few miscues here and there, but we played really well at Gardner-Webb," Peck said. "When we get a lead we have to learn how to put a team away. We scored nine in our first three innings at Gardner-Webb. That game should have ended in five, but we let them back in it.

"Our offense has been doing a good job of scoring runs. But even with that we haven't had the production we needed out of a few people."

One of the most consistent performers last week was senior outfielder Sara Simons, a transfer from the University of Missouri. She had at least one hit in each of the four games and also had an RBI in each game.

"Sara is talented and very aggressively-minded," Peck said. "She really understands the game well. She had a little bit of a slow start, but she has really come on here lately."

While players like Keese, Sirus, Simons and first baseman Heather Collins have had some big hits, Peck is looking for consistency at the plate.

"We haven't been as consistent lately as what we need to be," Peck said. "We are a better team when Lauren Dortwegt gets on base. She drives our offense. But she hasn't been on base as much as she needs to be. She understands what she needs to do."

The Lady Bisons will be playing their first A-Sun games at home this weekend. Florida Gulf Coast visits Draper Diamond Friday. The first pitch is at 4 p.m. Saturday Stetson is in town for a doubleheader beginning at 1.

"It will be nice to be back at home and get settled in and really see where we are in the conference," Peck said. "We have had so many games on the road this season. Maybe that is going to help us out a little bit. I feel pretty good about how we are playing right now."

Pitching as always is a big key to the team's success. Christy Grisham remained on the sidelines as she works to return to form. Alaina Jacobson, another transfer from Missouri, has been a solid performer on the mound. Christen Campbell is improving with each appearance. Kim Jacobson rounds out the pitching trio.

"Alaina Jacobson has given us a lot of quality innings," Peck said. "She has been throwing well here lately. Christen is doing a much better job. Kim Jacobson was our go-to pitcher early on. We have to get her back to that point.

"All three have what it takes to get us all the way through the conference. We just have to get those performances out of them. We have to give them run support and play good defense behind them."