NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It is never too late for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons.
Kelsey Cartwright slammed a double to deep center with two outs to score Paige Neely with the game-winning run in the eighth for a 2-1 win over Mercer Sunday afternoon at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium.
With two outs Neely reached on a single in the gap between third and shortstop and then advanced to second base on a wild pitch.
“God was good today,” Kelsey Cartwright said. “Saturday I was kind of struggling to get into a rhythm.
“Thankfully I found some good pitches to drive. But if Paige had not been on base I wouldn’t have had the chance. Paige battled at the plate. It was awesome.”
There were questions about whether or not Kelsey Cartwright had tipped the ball that allowed Neely to advance. Kelsey Cartwright said she thought the ball went off of the catcher’s mitt and not her bat.
Neely struggled early at the plate, but she made adjustments as the game progressed.
“I didn’t have my best at bats,” Neely said. “I was frustrated but I had to let it go. I knew my later at bats were going to be important. I knew if I found a way to get on base that Kelsey or Kristen Sturdivant would drive me in.”
Kelsey Cartwright’s game-winner was hit so deep that it made the controversy over Neely advancing to second moot as she would have probably scored from first on the hit.
“I didn’t know what happened,” Neely said. “I just saw the ball get by the catcher. Nobody threw their hands up and said it was a foul ball.”
The Lady Bisons swept the series with the win. They move into third place in the Atlantic Sun.
Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman was confident in her top three hitters as they entered the eighth. All six hits in the game were from the top three hitters for the Lady Bisons. Brianne Welch, the No. 9 batter, struck out and so did Brittany Elmore.
“We have gotten the job done all year long throughout the lineup, but especially today I thought the top part of the order was doing some really great things,” Ryman said. “We tell them all of the time not to underestimate a time at bat whether there are no outs, one out or two outs.
“Every single at bat matters. Today was a perfect example of that especially in the eighth.”
It was the second extra inning game of the series. The Lady Bisons won game one in the doubleheader Saturday 9-1 in five innings and then won 5-4 in the eighth in the nightcap. The Lady Bisons have won their last six games in a row.
They are perfect in extra innings games this season with a 6-0 record.
“When we tie a game, whether we are coming from being behind or whether a team ties us, we do a good job of staying composed,” Ryman said. “It is a 0-0 game again. There is not a panic mode for us, especially on this field when we know we are going to get the last at bat.”
The Lady Bisons are 34-9 overall, 14-6 in the conference. Mercer falls to 29-17, 11-8 in the A-Sun.
Mercer broke the scoreless tie in the fifth with one run.
The Lady Bisons tied the game in the sixth when Brittany Elmore who led off the inning with a single scored on a wild pitch.
Kelsey Cartwright led all batters with three hits.
“Kelsey can do great things even when she is not at her best,” Ryman said. “Kelsey has been fighting through some things with her swing. She works on bettering herself with every single at bat.
“For her to get that hit was huge. She had a good game overall. She makes the top part of our order even stronger.”
Ashley Anderson, 17-2, went the distance for the Lady Bisons. The left-hander scattered five hits, struck out six and walked two. She won two games in the series.
“Ashley did a really nice job of doing what she does…finding ways to get outs,” Ryman said. “For the most part I thought we did a good job playing defense behind her.
“In the one inning they scored it was unearned. That was a little bit frustrating. She really earned this win in the circle.”
Left-hander Kirsten Stevens started for Mercer and allowed four hits and one run in 5.1 innings. Anna O’Neill came on in relief and threw the final 2.1 innings. She struck out four, gave up two hits and did not walk a batter.
This was the second weekend in a row that the Lady Bisons have swept an A-Sun series.
They return to action Friday and Saturday at Stetson in Deland, Fla. Stetson is second in the conference with a 13-4 record, 29-8 overall.