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Sunday, May 23, 2010TUSCALOOSA, Ala. _ Senior center fielder and lead-off hitter Lauren Dortwegt was the only Lipscomb Lady Bison to get at least one hit in all four games in the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional.
She had two hits in Saturday night’s 7-6, nine-inning win over UAB and one hit in each of the other three games. She had one of Lipscomb's two hits in Sunday's 6-0 loss to top-seed Alabaman in the finals of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regiona.
“Lauren has been such a spark plug for us,” Lady Bisons’ coach Kristin Ryman said. “When she gets on base we always have an opportunity to score runs. It doesn’t matter if it is early or late in a game.”
Dortwegt became a triple threat at the plate this season. She did not make an error in center field this season. Offensively, she has held down the lead-off spot for her career with the Lady Bisons.
“She was able to swing away, slap or drop a bunt,” Ryman said. “That made her tough to defend all year long.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the resilience she has shown in center field and on the lead-off spot. No one has ever given her a run for her money in center field. That is a big credit to how hard she has worked.”
Dortwegt, first baseman Kellie Sirus, second baseman Abby Keese, third baseman Christen Campbell and pitchers Alaina Jacobson and Christy Grisham played their last game for the Lady Bisons.
Sophomore shortstop Courtney Billington had five hits in five trips to the plate in the 7-6 UAB win, the most by a Lipscomb player this season.
The NCAA Regionals do not name an All-Tournament team.
Collision center: Lady Bisons’ right fielder Caroline Mason and Dortwegt collided face-to-face as they chased down a fly ball by Kayla Braud, Alabama’s lead-off hitter in the first inning Sunday afternoon.
Both players fell to the ground with Dortwegt holding onto the ball for an out. Lady Bisons’ trainer Elizabeth Jurenko checked both players on the field and they both remained in the game.
The next batter, Cassie Reilly-Boccia challenged Dortwegt with a long fly ball to center. Dortwegt easily made the play.
Kiihnl has grit: Lipscomb pitcher Whitney Kiihnl started all four games in the regional. She threw 118 pitches in five innings in Sunday’s 6-0 loss to Alabama.
Her pitch total for the tournament was 496.
“We have put a lot on Whitney’s shoulders this season,” Ryman said. “I don’t think she will say that today was one of her best performances, but what a gutsy job in sticking it out and giving her best even though she was extremely tired.”
Kiihnl admitted that she was physically feeling the effects of so many pitches and the heat.
“I am pretty tired,” Kiihnl said. “Coach told me before the game to just push through it and do the best I can, because this could be the last game of the year.
“I wanted to push through for the six seniors. So I tried not to think about how tired I was.”
RPI boost: The Lady Bisons were rated 42nd in the final regular season NCAA RPI. They should receive a boost from the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional since they beat UAB twice in the final RPI of the season. UAB’s final regular season RPI ranking was 38.
The Lady Bisons were one of the final 32 teams still playing on Sunday in regionals. Alabama advances to a Super Regional with the win. This is the fifth time a Lipscomb team has played in an NCAA Tournament, the first time for softball. They advanced deeper into the tournament than any Lipscomb team.
In the final regular season rankings for the Ultimate College Softball Poll the Lady Bisons were ranked 26th with 48 votes.
They received five votes in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Poll, placing them in the top 30. Votes for the poll are made by 30 Division I coaches, with one representing each conference.
In the ESPN.com/USA Poll the Lady Bisons were given one vote for the top 25.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.