Thursday here at Patricia Wilson Field on the campus of Stetson University the only thing hotter than the 90-degree weather was the bats of the Lady Bisons. They pounded out 13 hits, including eight in the first two innings in a 6-0 win over ETSU in the first round of the Atlantic Sun Softball Championships.
The win was the first ever for the Lady Bisons in A-Sun postseason play. The Lady Bisons had only scored a combined eight runs in their three previous tournament appearances. They were 0-6 in those three trips in 2005, 2007 and 2008.
“It was big to get that one under our belts,” said Lipscomb coach Kristin Peck. “I love the fact that we came out attacking right from the get-go. Our game plan was to come out and attack early.”
“We have talked about leaving everything out there on the field from the start. We weren't nervous. We don't have a reason to be nervous at this point. It is matter of just going out and getting it done by doing what we have been doing.”
The hit total was the most ETSU has given up this season. It was the 18th shutout of the season for the Lady Bisons.
“We really came out and attacked very well offensively early on. We are the type of team that can hit the long ball, but we can also string together singles, put bunts down and move runners. We needed a combination of that today.”
The Lady Bisons had beaten ETSU starter Marissa Hardy (17-16) lasted only 1.1 innings, her shortest start of the season.
“We know Hardy is a good pitcher, but we also know that she throws a lot of hittable pitches early in the count,” said Peck. “ She has done that all year long. We knew if we came out and attacked those pitches early that good things were going to happen for us.
The Lady Bisons (38-12) are the No. 2 seed in the tournament. ETSU (27-26) is No. 5. The Lady Bisons play again tonight at 5 against No. 3 seeded Mercer (38-17), a 2-0 winner over No. 4-seeded Jacksonville in the first game of the tournament.
“Mercer presents a whole new set of challenges,” said Peck. “They have a lefty-pitcher in Jenni Holtz who has good movement with her pitches. They have Lacey Richardson right behind her and she is also a lefty. She threw well against us earlier in the year. This is the time for us to rise to the challenge.
The Lady Bisons split with Mercer at Draper Diamond this season, winning 2-1 and losing 3-0 April 17.
The Lady Bisons jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Lead-off hitter Lauren Dortwegt started things off with a single to left, one of five hits in the inning. The Lady Bisons batted around in the inning. Kellie Sirus driving in two runs on a ground ball double through the left side of the field Christen Campbell brought Sirus home with a ground ball single down the right field line.
In the second inning the Lady Bisons added two more runs.as Abby Keese brought in two with a double to left center.
In the fourth the Lady Bisons struck for one run as Molllie Mitchell lined a single to left that scored Sirus.
Keese had a double off the left field wall in the sixth inning. It marked the first time this season she has hit two doubles in a game. Sirus and Keese also had two RBI.
Dortwegt, who stole her 12th base of the season, also had two hits along with Mitchell and Campbell.
Courtney Billington had a game-high three hits for the Lady Bisons.
Coming into the game ETSU had outscored the opposition 47-23 in the first and second innings.
Right-handed pitcher Whitney Kiihnl (17-8), the A-Sun Freshman Player of the Year, retired the first nine batters she faced on the way to a two-hitter. She struck out 10 and did not walk a bater.
It was her seventh shutout of the season. This was the second time Kiihnl has shut down ETSU.
“Whitney has the most innings and right now she is kind of our go-to pitcher,” said Peck. “We knew Whitney would be a good match-up against ETSU. It was an absolutely awesome performance by Whitney.”
The Lady Bisons had beaten ETSU 3-1 and 3-0 April 10 in Johnson City. The Lady Bisons are 4-6 against ETSU in the NCAA era and 10-6 overall.