JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – In softball, as in any sport, a good game plan is to not allow the other team to score a run.
That approach worked well for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons with a doubleheader sweep of ETSU Saturday afternoon at Betty Basler Field. LU right-hander Tanner Sanders shut down the Buccaneers 2-0 in game one. Right-hander Heather Parker allowed only one hit in an 8-0 win in the nightcap. The game was called after five innings due to the run-rule.
The Atlantic Sun series ends Sunday with a single game at noon. The Lady Bisons are 19-18 overall, 8-6 in the conference. ETSU slipped to 10-23, 0-13 in the A-Sun.
“ETSU is a team that you can’t back off of,” LU coach Kristin Ryman said. “We have to keep taking care of business. We have to try to score first and score as early and as often as we can.
“ETSU is going to be scrapping until the very last at bat. We have to make sure we play a full seven innings.”
Sanders raised her record to 11-7. She scattered six hits, walked two and struck out four.
Both walks came in the sixth inning. ETSU added a single to load the bases with one out. But Sanders got out of the jam when left fielder Heather Montgomery snagged a line drive by Casey Horner and threw out Bethany Cowart at second for the double play.
ETSU’s Katie Wolff, 4-12, gave up only five hits. She struck out four, but she walked six.
“Katie Wolff has done a nice job for them this year,” Ryman said. “She keeps them in games. She gives them a chance if they are hitting.
“She did a really nice job of moving the ball around and hitting her spots. She forced us to hit some pitches we really didn’t want to hit and to chase some pitches we didn’t want to necessarily go after.”
The Lady Bisons scored one run in the fourth on an RBI-single to center by Bree Thurman. They added an insurance run in the seventh when Gracey Aguirre connected for her 10th double of the season to bring in Bridgette Begle.
“That was a big run to pick up late in the game,” Ryman said. “It gave everybody a little bit of breathing room.
“We were swinging at better pitches later in the game and that was good to see. If we see Wolff again Sunday we are going to have to make some adjustments early. We have to look for our pitches to hit.”
The Lady Bisons bats came to life in game two. They pounded out 14 hits with solo runs in the first and third innings, four runs in the fourth and two runs in the fifth.
“We had a lot of hits early on, but we didn’t have a lot of runs,” Ryman said. “We kind of broke it open in the fourth.”
Paige Neely was the game-leader in both hits and RBI. She had three hits, including an RBI-single in the third and a two-RBI single to right field in the fourth.
Kristen Sturdivant, Begle, Montgomery and Thurman each connected for a double in the second game. Thurman and Sturdivant each added single as well.
“Bree Thurman had a really good hitting day,” Ryman said. “She was seeing the ball well. She did a really nice job of swinging at pitches in her zone on a day where we had several girls chasing pitches and freezing on good pitches.
“She took her hacks. She had some key hits for us.”
Brittany Elmore, with two hits, and Begle with two combined with Neely to produce seven hits in the top three positions in the batting order.
“They did a nice job of putting the ball in play,” Ryman said. “The top part of the order started the second game off the right way. Anytime you start a game with the top part of your order having some good quality at bats early it sets the tone for everybody else.”
Parker, 7-9, earned her second shutout of the season. In addition to the one hit she walked one and struck out three.
“Heather did a really nice job of limiting her base runners,” Ryman said. “We made one error so she only had three runners in five innings.
“ETSU has had a good year hitting-wise. They had a few really well-hit balls that we made some nice plays on or that they hit right at us. Both Tanner and Heather did a good job of working out of jams.”