The Lady Bisons fell to the Southeastern Conference Champions 5-2 Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional. They out-hit Alabama five-to-four with senior second baseman Abby Keese collecting two hits, one a double, for the second game in a row.
“Overall, I thought we came back and fought extremely hard,” Lady Bisons coach Kristin Ryman said. “I’m proud of the way we made it a better game than it looked like it was going to start out to be.
“I’m a little disappointed though. We felt like coming in that we had a legitimate shot. And, yeah, I still do coming out of the loser’s bracket.”
The Lady Bisons are still alive in the double-elimination format. They will play the winner of the Alcorn State and UAB game at approximately 6:30 p.m.
The game will be video streamed at rolltide.com. Audio streaming will be available at lipscombsports.com.
The Lady Bisons spotted Alabama three runs in the first inning, but held them to one in the third and one in the fourth.
“Unfortunately, we had some errors and just some key mental mistakes right off the bat that really hurt us,” Ryman said. “Anytime you give the No. 1 team in the nation some gimmies right off the bat it definitely hurts you. You can’t make mistakes when you play the top teams.
“I wish we would have had a little better start. But I’m definitely proud we fought back and continued to stay in the game and make it a better game.”
Sophomore right fielder Caroline Mason brought in the first run for the Lady Bisons with a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Mollie Mitchell who reached base when she was hit by a pitch to open the inning. She moved to third on a double to left center by Keese.
In the sixth Keese singled to center field to send home Courtney Billington who led off the inning with an infield single to the shortstop.
Sophomore Whitney Kiihnl pitched four innings and allowed four hits and five runs, only two earned. She walked five and struck out three.
“The rise ball was working well,” Kiihnl said. “They didn’t seem to be swinging at the change-up much. The drop ball was working a lot better for me today than it was Friday because I was honestly nervous to throw it because with one bad pitch it’s out of the park.”
Senior Alaina Jacobson pitched the final three innings. She did not allow a run or a hit and struck out one. She only faced eight batters. “Alaina is such a different pitcher from Whitney,” Ryman said. “Those two complement each other really well.
“Alaina is not a hard thrower. She just spins the heck out of the ball. She very much relies on her movement. She gets hitters to swing out of their shoes and look silly at times. That is just the way she pitches.”
Kiihnl was credited with the loss. Her record is 32-4.
Dunne went the distance for Alabama. She struck out 10 and walked one.
“They are a good team and they have great hitters,” Dunne said. “They made adjustments and I had to make adjustments too. I had to work with that.”
Keese stressed that the Lady Bisons changed their mentality about Dunne as the game progressed.
“I don’t think anything changed with her pitching,” Keese said. “Once we all got in the box and saw here one or two times, we thought we could hit her.
“I don’t think her pitching changed at all. She still threw the change-ups, the curve balls, the drop balls and the rise balls. It was just a matter of us seeing it and seeing what pitches to hit versus chasing the pitches she wanted us to chase.”
Alabama is 50-9. The Lady Bisons are 49-12.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.