BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – This isn’t just another mid-week game for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball team.
They are making the short trip north to face Western Kentucky at the WKU Softball Complex. Game time is 5 p.m.
Western Kentucky holds a 14-7 advantage all-time in the series, including a 6-3 record at home. Western Kentucky will be coming off a Tuesday night game against Kentucky from the Southeastern Conference. The Lady Bisons are out to rebound from a 1-2 weekend at Atlantic Sun foe Stetson.
This will be the last regular season road game for the Lady Bisons. They want to add another win, but they also want to make sure they are doing everything they can to maintain their No. 28 rating in the NCAA RPI. Only USC Upstate at No. 25 has a higher rating among A-Sun teams.
“We have talked all season about how we schedule tough and this is another example,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “They have not had quite as strong of a year as they had last year when they were an NCAA Regional Tournament team.
“Over the years they have established themselves as one of the better mid-majors, especially in the Southeast area. They are a team that we play every year.”
The familiarity goes a little bit deeper this season. Lipscomb pitching coach Megan Rhodes Smith was a member of the Western Kentucky coaching staff last season. But Ryman also expects to see some different things from the Hilltoppers.
“We are familiar with them,” Ryman said. “Megan is very familiar with their players.
“They have a new head coach (Amy Tudor) this year and an entirely new staff. How they play the game may be a little different this year, but a lot of their personnel is the same.”
After the Western Kentucky game, barring any last minute additions, the Lady Bisons will close out the regular season Saturday and Sunday when Northern Kentucky visits Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium. After that series they will prepare to participate in and host the A-Sun Softball Championships from May 7-10.
“We don’t have many games left,” Ryman said. “We want to get some momentum going. We also want to help our RPI. This would be a win against a top 75 team. That would be big for us going into the weekend.
“We want to make sure we are staying on track and doing the things we are capable of doing this time of the year. You want to keep building. We want to peak at the right moment.”
The Lady Bisons spent Monday working on individual and small group drills. They had a complete team practice Tuesday.
“It will be important for us to find a way to rebound from a frustrating weekend,” Ryman said. “We didn’t necessarily play poorly at Stetson. We just didn’t make the play or get the key hit in certain moments. We have to make sure we are rebounding from that in a positive way.”
Western Kentucky swept Lipscomb in a doubleheader last season at Draper Diamond by scores of 8-2 and 7-1. In 2012 the two teams split in a doubleheader in Bowling Green.
Paige Neely leads the Lady Bisons in batting average (.389), slugging percentage (.568), hits (63), doubles (11), triples (3) and total bases (92). Neely has already exceeded last year’s season totals for hits, doubles and triples.
Neely also leads the Lady Bisons with 17 multiple-hit games. Neely has a six-game hitting streak heading into the Western Kentucky game. She has the longest hitting streak of the season at 16.
Kristen Sturdivant continues to add to her career season high for runs batted in with 41. She had 32 last season. Sturdivant leads the team in home runs with nine. Sturdivant is first on the team in multiple-RBI games with 13.
The Lady Bisons have five regular hitters batting .300 or above including Neely. Rena’ Cothron is second at .352 followed by Kelsey Cartwright and Brittany Elmore, both at .338, and Mimi Cartwright at .300.
Elmore is perfect on the base paths this season as she has safely stolen 21 bases on 21 attempts.
Senior left-handed pitcher Ashley Anderson has set a number of career season highs this season with 17 wins and 108 strikeouts.
She has a 1.51 earned run average and is holding teams to a .207 hitting.