HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – A game winning run is a game winning run regardless of how you get it.
Such was the case for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball team. They capitalized on a one-out single, a walk, two stolen bases and an illegal pitch call for what proved to be the winning run in the seventh inning against Northern Kentucky.
The 4-3 win Saturday afternoon at Grein Stadium gave the Purple and Gold the sweep of the series, their fourth A-Sun series sweep of the season. Northern Kentucky finished its first season in the conference with an 11-41 record overall, 5-22 in the A-Sun.
The Lady Bisons are 32-22, 18-8 in the conference. They have earned the fourth seed in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament which begins Wednesday at LU’s Draper Diamond. The Lady Bisons will face No. 5-seeded Kennesaw State Wednesday afternoon in game two at 5:30.
Left-hander Ashley Anderson started for LU in her first start, and only second appearance, since March 20. She allowed two runs in the second on a home run by Kaylin Steinmetz and one in the fourth after walking in a run. She had walked two batters and hit another to load the bases.
“Ashley had a few too many walks,” Ryman said. “Usually she is in the zone pretty well.
“Overall, for not having thrown that many innings in one outing in a while I thought she did a nice job. It was good to see where she was at and it was good to rest Heather Parker and Tanner Sanders. We have a clear picture of where we stand with all three pitchers.”
In five innings, Anderson scattered five hits, struck out four, walked four and hit two batters.
“It was good opportunity to give her a chance to throw more than one inning,” Ryman said. “There were a few questions left unanswered that we wanted to get a feel for going into the tournament.
“Ashley threw well last week in one inning. We wanted to see if she could throw and be effective once through a line-up. She had a few bumps along the way, but found ways to get outs. Our defense played well behind her.”
In the sixth, Anderson gave up a double to Emily Schwaeble to open the inning. Parker came into the game in relief. She struck out two and forced a pop out to end the inning. In the seventh, Parker gave up a single but struck out two more. Parker earned her second win of the series, raising her record to 14-11.
“Parker came in and threw really well,” Ryman said. “She was very efficient with her pitches. She didn’t throw many pitches. She got ahead.
“She was hitting her spots and working the corners really well. She left their tying run at second in the seventh.”
The Lady Bisons fought back in the third to tie the game on an RBI-bunt by Bridgette Begle and a single through the left side by Gracey Aguirre that brought home Begle with the tying run.
In the fourth, Bree Thurman gave the Lady Bisons a 3-2 lead with a solo home run blast down the left field line. Prior to Thurman’s homer Haley Elliott slammed a round-tripper but on appeal it was ruled that she had not touched first base.
“As a team we were so fired up after the call on Haley,” Ryman said. “It was frustrating. Haley had struggled a good part of the weekend and she had finally come through with a big hit. Then Bree comes up and hits another one to get it back. She made sure she hit every single bag.”
With one out in the seventh, Brittany Elmore reached on a bunt single to third. She then stole second. After Begle fouled out Paige Neely walked. Elmore then stole third and Paige Neely stole second. While attempting to intentionally walk Aguirre to load the bases Schwaeble, 5-2, was called for an illegal pitch. That mistake brought Elmore home with the fourth run.
“She came back and went right into the next pitch,” Ryman said. “She didn’t pause and slow down after she stepped on the rubber.
“Brittany is smart and aggressive as a base runner. Her two stolen bases were big. She tries to catch people sleeping. She takes everything she can get. It was big at that point that she was on third.”
The Lady Bisons connected for seven hits. Aguirre earned her third straight multiple-hit game of the series.
“Gracey is a doubles machine, but we really need her to put the ball in play and have a pretty good average,” Ryman said. “She is not a kid who strikes out much. She is very good with two strikes.
“She sees the ball well. She knows what she has to do with two strikes. Over and over she finds ways to get it done. She can drive the ball in the gaps. She had a really good weekend. That was good to see her have another good weekend going into the tournament.”