The Lipscomb Lady Bisons split the first day of the Panther Invitational in Atlanta, losing 4-0 to Appalachian State and beating tournament host Georgia State 4-0.
Lady Bisons coach Kristin Ryman was more concerned about how her team was performing in pregame workouts than in the actual games.
“We talked a lot about our approach,” Ryman said. “We talk a lot about controlling the things we can control.
“One of those areas is our pregame. We have to mentally and physically get ourselves ready and into game mode. We have to do a better job of getting ourselves ready to play.”
Ryman liked what she saw from her players in the Georgia State shutout.
“Hitting-wise we picked it up a notch,” Ryman said. “We started being a little more aggressive at the plate. We were taking more aggressive cuts.”
Ryman is dealing with a young team overall and that is influencing what she says to the players.
“We didn’t want to be too down after the first game,” Ryman said. “Not taking anything away from Appalachian State in the first game but I didn’t think we were ourselves.
“As a coach it is hard to look past that. We have a young team that is experiencing new things every time out. We just kind of challenged them a little bit about how they approached the Georgia State game.”
After the Lady Bisons managed only one hit against Appalachian State Ryman spent the time between games addressing the situation. Whatever was said was effective. The Lady Bisons pounded out eight hits in the win over Georgia State.
“We didn’t have a lot of strikeouts which was good,” Ryman said. “However, we didn’t necessarily have quality at bats either against Appalachian State.
“We never could get much going. We would hit it on the nose and go right at somebody or they would make a good play.”
The Lady Bisons are scheduled to play Memphis at 9 a.m. Sunday. The second game will be determined based on seeding.
Whitney Kiihnl struck out a season-high 12 batters in a 4-0 shutout of host Georgia State Saturday.
Kiihnl gave up three hits, walked three and hit three batters.
“Whitney gave us a chance to score runs and hold off the other team,” Ryman said. “That is what we need out of her.”
The Lady Bisons scored two runs in the second inning. Vanessa Medina singled and was replaced with Lacy Walker as a pinch-runner. Kristen Sturdivant slammed a home run over the left field wall, her first as a college player. Walker scored on the home run giving Sturdivant her first multiple-RBI game of the season.
“We tweaked our lineup,” Ryman said. “We had been trying to find a way to work Kristen Sturdivant into the lineup and see what she could do.”
In the fifth the Lady Bisons struck for two more runs. Courtney Billington led off the inning with a double to left center. Breanna Thurman singled to score Billington.
Mollie Mitchell flied out. With one out Rena’ Cothron singled to right field. Thurman advanced to third and then scored as the right fielder also committed a fielding error.
Billington led the Lady Bisons with three hits.
“Courtney had a really good day,” Ryman said. “Bree Thurman had an RBI-single. Courtney and Caroline Mason both hit doubles. It was almost a complete turnaround from the first game.”
The Lady Bisons are 2-5. Georgia State is 4-3.
Freshman Lady Bisons’ pitcher J.J. Nelson threw her first complete game on the collegiate level, a 4-0 loss to Appalachian State in the opening game of the Panther Invitational Saturday morning.
Nelson, 0-2, allowed five hits and only one earned run. She struck out two, walked one and hit one batter.
Appalachian State scored one run in the first and three runs in the sixth.
“J.J. threw well,” Ryman said. “In the sixth Appalachian State put together a few things.
“J.J. is getting better and better. When she gets deep into a game and has been throwing well she has to find a way to finish. That is one thing we have been working on with her.”
Hannah Dow held the Lady Bisons to only one hit, a double by catcher Haley Elliott with one out in the seventh inning.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.