CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – There is a Hitchcockian theme to the Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball season.
Known as the “Master of Suspense”, the late movie director Alfred Hitchcock always managed to find a way to surprise audiences in the closing minutes of a film. The Lipscomb Lady Bisons are doing the same thing on the field. One almost expects to find a sign hanging on the gates of stadiums where they play stating that no fan will be admitted during the last three innings.
The Lady Bisons are on the road Thursday night to play Chattanooga from the Southern Conference in a single game starting at 5 at Frost Stadium. The Lady Bisons are 23-4 and have won their last four games. Chattanooga is 14-12 after splitting two games at Appalachian State. They move on to Kennesaw State Saturday and Sunday for a three-game Atlantic Sun series.
Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman wants her team to strike quickly and they have scored 32 runs in the first inning this season. They have scored a combined 81 runs in the first four innings, but they have pushed 92 across the plate in the last three and added 10 more in the eighth and ninth innings. They have scored the most runs in the fifth inning with 43.
“As a coach I preach the importance of setting a tone,” Ryman said. “Let’s score early and often and keep the pressure on the other team and the momentum in our favor.
“But what a huge positive to know that not only are we capable of coming back, but we are making late game adjustments. If you are not scoring early in a game, but you are scoring later that is a clear indication that you are learning as the game goes on.
“I don’t think many pitchers want to face our team late in a game because we are doing such a good job of making adjustments. We are just going up and trying to have better at bats every single time.”
When leading after six innings the Lady Bisons are 11-0. They are 3-3 when trailing after six and are 3-0 in games that are tied after six. The Lady Bisons are 3-0 in extra-inning games.
“There is a lot of experience on this team,” Ryman said. “We have a lot of juniors and seniors that are playing and starting.
“I think they are confident late in a game. They know at any moment that we have a shot to come back and tie a game or go ahead. They are not fearful of late inning situations.”
Ryman warns her players that she likes winning, but she isn’t a big fan of the late game suspense.
“We want to continue to attack and keep the pressure on throughout a game,” Ryman said. “If we can continue throughout a game to have quality at bats the late innings will take care of themselves.
“But it is nice to know as a coach that we are never getting down in the dugout. We never think we are out of a game. There is so much fight in this team. We have seen it all year and we continue to see it. We continue to have clutch at bats.”
The Lady Bisons last played Chattanooga in 2013, a 1-0 loss. Chattanooga is unbeaten at home in five games this season. The Lady Bisons are 8-1 on the road.
“Chattanooga is an athletic team,” Ryman said. “They traditionally hit well and pitch well.
“Nearly every season they are in the top two or three in the Southern Conference. They are a team that is used to winning and they have won a lot. They really get a lot of support and attention.”
Taylor Deason leads the Chattanooga pitching staff with a 7-6 record, two saves and a .78 earned run average which ranks her eighth nationally in NCAA Division I.
Katie Henderson is averaging 6.6 strikeouts per game. She is 6-4 with a 2.01 ERA.
Anyssa Robles leads Chattanooga in hitting with a .342 average. She is the only Chattanooga player batting above .300. Alyssa Taylor is the home run leader with five.
“It will definitely be a challenge,” Ryman said. “Taylor Deason is having a great season for them. We faced her last year. This will be almost like facing an A-Sun team in the mid-week.”