NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It was a clean sweep this week for Lipscomb senior first baseman Kristen Sturdivant.
She earned her first ever Atlantic Sun Player of the Year honor. But she has also been named Tennessee Sports Writers Association (TSWA) Player of the Week and College Sports Madness A-Sun Player of the Week as well.
In addition the National Fastpitch Coaches Association named Sturdivant as one of the “Selected Top Performers” nationally.
Sturdivant is third in the Atlantic Sun Conference and 35th in the nation in home runs with seven. She has 30 runs batted in this season; almost triple her total for the same number of games last season. She is ranked third in the conference and 43rd nationally in RBI per game with 1.11.
She is batting .309 and has a team-leading .617 slugging percentage.
“A big challenge for Kristen this year is to cut down on her strikeouts,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “Even more so than that we want to make sure that her walk-to-strikeout ratio is balanced a little bit more. She is in a much better spot this year than she was last year when you compare the two.”
Sturdivant has been a clutch hitter this season with her last three home runs playing key parts in games.
Her two-run homer with two out in the eighth inning in a 10-7 win over Jacksonville in game one of Saturday's doubleheader tied the game at 7-7 forcing a decisive ninth inning.
In a 6-3 win at Tennessee Tech March 11 she blasted a three-run homer in the seventh to provide what would prove to be the winning margin. In a 6-1 win over Tennessee Tech in game one her three-run homer with one out in the seventh helped seal the win for the Lady Bisons.
“The thing that is neat with Kristin is not only the fact that she is hitting home runs, but the timeliness of her home runs,” Ryman said. “She has been someone who throughout the season has come through in the clutch time and time again.
“We would be O.K. in those situations with a single or a double, but she is getting a home run. That is the kind of hitter that she is.”
She and the rest of the Lady Bisons are back in action Thursday night at 5 in a single game at Tennessee-Chattanooga. They return to A-Sun competition Saturday and Sunday on the road at Kennesaw State. Starting times each day are at noon.
Sturdivant has quickly developed a reputation this season as the type of player no opponent wants to see at the plate, especially late in a game.
“She is going to go up there and take her hacks,” Ryman said. “Last year she would work herself into more of a hole. This year she is looking for better pitches to hit and she is attacking those.”
Ryman will be counting on Sturdivant to carry a big part of the offensive load this week. But with seven of the regular hitters batting over .300 and eight of the nine with double figures in RBI the weight is distributed pretty evenly among the Lady Bisons.
“We do have such a strong lineup,” Ryman said. “We don’t have two or three that really stand out with the rest hitting .250 or below. We have a full team that is doing well at the plate one through nine.
“They are all going up to the plate ready to attack. But in the back of their minds they know if they don’t get the job done there are plenty of people around them that have come through.”
Ryman and her staff have stressed to the players that there is more pressure on the opposing pitcher than on each of them at the plate.
“No pitcher wants to face our lineup,” Ryman said. “There is more pressure on that pitcher to make perfect pitches than it is on each of our batters to get a big hit because any of them can do it.”