WACO, Texas – The Lipscomb Lady Bisons won their first six games of the season, the best start ever for the softball program.
After splitting Saturday with two top 25 teams the Lady Bisons stand 7-1, their best start to a season in the NCAA era. They started the day with an 8-0 loss in four innings to No. 16/18-ranked Missouri and finished with a 1-0 win over No. 14/16-rated Baylor, the host of the Getterman Classic.
In 2007 and 2003 the Lady Bisons started with 6-2 records.
“It is still early and conference play is what matters most,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “Today was as big of a challenge as we will face this year, but we don’t want to get too high.
“When we do a good job of staying in the moment and taking care of what is important right now, we are successful. We had a rough start to the day, but rebounded extremely well.”
Ryman and her staff did the best they could to persuade the Lady Bisons to forget about the Missouri game and move on. Sometimes players listen to their coaches. Sometimes they don’t. Obviously, the Lady Bisons listened.
“We told the players after the Missouri game that they had to move forward,” Ryman said. “We had to put that behind us, have some fun and go get another big win.
“The game of softball is so mental. Sometimes players will struggle to let it go, especially if they made mistakes. And we made mistakes against Missouri. We made errors. We left a lot of runners on base. We gave up a big hit. It all just kind of crumbled away. Credit our players for letting the Missouri game go.”
The Lady Bisons relied on a pair of Texans to turn things around in the Baylor game.
Bridgette Begle broke a scoreless tie in the sixth with a one-out triple to right center field. Gracey Aguirre, who had reached base on a throwing error by the Baylor shortstop, scored the only run of the game.
“Almost every single inning we were getting runners on and giving ourselves opportunities,” Ryman said. “Gracey put the ball in play, hustled it out and made something happen.
“Then Bridget lined one into the gap. She had a couple of pretty good at bats early but chased pitches late. It was really cool to see her get that big hit and find a way to boost us that late in the game. We had two Texas girls doing it for us in the clutch.”
Right-hander Tanner Sanders, 4-0, threw her second shutout in as many days. She gave up three hits, walked four and hit one batter. She did not record a strikeout.
The Lady Bisons faced one of the top pitchers in the country in Baylor’s Whitney Canion who struck out 11 in the losing effort. The Lady Bisons had runners on base in all but one inning.
“She is an All-American-caliber pitcher,” Ryman said. “We were putting balls in play against her early in the game and that was a good sign of things to come. We kept battling and battling.
“We gave ourselves opportunities. If you do that every inning something good is going to happen.”
In the Missouri game the Lady Bisons struggled from the start. Missouri struck for one run in the first and then capitalized on a pair of Lipscomb errors and four hits in the second inning to score six runs. The big hit of the inning was a grand slam over the right field fence by Emily Crane. Missouri closed out the game with a run in the fourth.
Heather Parker, a right-hander, started for the Lady Bisons. In 1.1 innings she gave up five hits and seven runs, two earned. Parker slipped to 1-1.
Left-hander Ashley Anderson came on in relief and threw 2.2 innings. She scattered three hits, walked two and gave up one unearned run.
The Lady Bisons managed only three hits against Missouri.
The Lady Bisons close out the Getterman Classic Sunday at 9 a.m. against UAB, a rival for several seasons.
“We have a lot of fight in us,” Ryman said. “As excited as our girls were to play some ranked teams, UAB is the game they want.
“It is a neat rivalry. We have had some really great non-conference games with them. Their team has had tremendous success. They do a lot of things well. We don’t want to walk away with a loss.”