KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Seldom can it be said that a team can take pride in a loss.
But the Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball team, who fell 2-0 to host Tennessee in the Knoxville Regional final Sunday afternoon at Lee Stadium, can be proud of their efforts.
After winning back-to-back games Saturday against Charleston Southern and Virginia Tech to come out of the loser’s bracket, the Lady Bisons needed to win two again today to advance to a Super Regional.
“We knew we were going to be tested as much as we had been all year,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “Our goal was to come in and challenge them as much as possible. And I think we did that.
“It is frustrating to walk away with a loss. I remember back in 2010, when we made it to Sunday in the regional, it was such a great feeling. But we were physically and mentally drained. This time around we had a lot still left in the tank and that was exciting,”
Senior left-hander Ashley Anderson, in her last appearance in a Lipscomb uniform, struck out nine Tennessee hitters. She walked four and gave up five hits, including a two-run home over the right center field fence by Lexi Overstreet. She also hit two batters.
Anderson, 20-8, was one short of tying her season high of 10 strikeouts in a game set three times this season.
“I truly believe Ashley left it all out there” Ryman said. “Ashley held them down long enough to give our offense a chance.”
The performance by Anderson was even more impressive since Tennessee had hit six home runs in a 12-0, five-inning win over Virginia Tech Saturday. Tennessee had also run-ruled Charleston Southern 12-3 Friday.
“This is one of the greatest teams I have had a chance to play with,” Anderson said. “We just approached it like every other game.
“My motto all year has been to chill and play the same way. It hasn’t mattered what the name was on a jersey. Knowing my team was behind me, and I could focus on my pitches, made a difference. I always had complete faith in our lineup.”
The Lady Bisons finish the season 41-15, the second time in the NCAA era they have won more than 40 games in a season. The Lady Vols, 45-10, advance to the Super Regional.
“Tennessee is a great program,” Ryman said, “They have been a great program. They have again had another great year and have done some big things on the national stage.”
Paige Neely led the Lady Bisons with two hits, including a double down the left field line in the sixth inning. Kristen Sturdivant, playing her last game for the Lady Bisons, hit a double down the left field line in the fifth inning,
Tennessee right-hander Ellen Renfroe, 29-6, gave up only three hits. She struck out 10 and did not walk a batter.
“From top to bottom we had some great at bats,” Ryman said. “We just came up short. I thought Ellen threw a great game. She was spot on. We had a hard time making things happen with a runner on base.
“We had talked about having control of our attitude and I thought we had a phenomenal attitude and effort all weekend. I wouldn’t have wanted to be a team facing us today. Tennessee knew we were going to be competitive. I thought we did a good job overall. I am really proud of our players.”