Sirus had barely completed her home run trot when all eyes at Patricia Wilson Stadium at Stetson University turned to the skies to watch the space shuttle head into space.
As dramatic as that historical event was, it couldn’t upstage the Lady Bisons who beat Kennesaw State 8-0 in the Atlantic Sun Tournament to stay alive in the race for the championship Friday afternoon. Kennesaw State, the No.3 seed, ended its season with a 27-26 record.
“It was kind of a neat thing,” Lady Bisons coach Kristin Ryman said in reference to the space shuttle launch. “None of us had ever seen a space shuttle launched this close to us.
“At this point we feel very confident with where we are right now. We came out with a tremendous amount of energy. Our bench was such a spark in keeping everyone going.”
The Lady Bisons will face Stetson, 2-0, at 5 today. Stetson, the No. 2 seed, is the tournament host.
“The biggest challenge right now is pitcher Amanda Lindsey,” Ryman said. “They rely on her so much. Nicole Peltz has done some good things for them too, but Lindsey is their workhorse. She is their senior and they are going to continue to go to her.”
Stetson won the final game Thursday night, beating Kennesaw State 4-3 with all four runs scored in the seventh.
“They came from behind last night and they probably have some momentum from that,” Ryman said. “Stetson doesn’t have a loss so that is also a big challenge.
“Our girls are very motivated when they play Stetson. It seems like we play them all of the time. They know us and we know them. I expect it to be a battle.”
Christen Campbell, Abby Keese, Mollie Mitchell and Sirus each hit home runs for the Lady Bisons who finished with 12 hits. The four home runs tied the single-game season high set against Tennessee State April 7.
“We hope to continue hitting the way we did against Kennesaw State,” Ryman said. “I think we built back a lot of confidence.” Six of the hits were by the first three batters in the line-up _ Lauren Dortwegt, Mackenzie Tucker and Sirus with two each. Keese also added two hits.
“When Lauren and Mac get on base it immediately puts pressure on the opposing team.” Ryman said. “I am really proud of Abby today. She battled and battled and had some real positive at bats.”
Dortwegt used only one arm for one of her hits, something she is known to do on occasion.
“Lauren is phenomenal,” Ryman said. “She continues to do things that make me stand back in awe.
“She is a true triple threat at the plate that you have to constantly worry about. She can swing away. She has a home run this year. She has had quite a few deep balls. She can drop a bunt. She can push the ball through the infield.“
Whitney Kiihnl struck out 11 batters on the way to her second win in three attempts for the Lady Bisons. She has finished in double figures in strikeouts in all three games. Alaina Jacobson closed out the game with a scoreless seventh inning.
“We are going to look to using Alaina and Christen as needed the rest of the way,” Ryman said. “I feel comfortable with either one of them on the mound.”
It was the 28th shutout of the season for the Lady Bisons, 46-11 overall. The 46 wins tie for the second highest record for the Lady Bisons. They won 46 in 1998 in the NAIA era under coach Andy Lane.
Ryman wanted her team to be more aggressive. They responded by scoring three runs in the second inning.
Campbell blasted a solo shot to left field to give the Bisons a 1-0 lead and Keese slammed her 14th home run of the season over the center field fence. Caroline Mason reached base on an error on pop fly by Kennesaw State’s second baseman. She went to second on the play and advanced to third on a sacrifice by Kiihnl. Mason scored when Lauren Dortwegt dropped a single into shallow right field.
The home run by Keese was her 14th of the season. It marks the third time in four seasons that she has hit 14 home runs in a season. She has a school career record of 51.
The Lady Bisons added one in the fifth. Sirus drove in Kiihnl with a single to center. Kiihnl reached base on an infield hit to the shortstop.
Kennesaw State replaced starting pitcher Abbey Meixel with Amanda Burns to start the sixth inning.
Mitchell welcomed Burns to the mound with a home run to center field. It was her second homer of the tournament.
Sirus provided insurance with a three-run home run over the left center field fence in the seventh inning. It was the 15th home run of the season for Sirus, who leads the conference in that category. She finished with four RBI, also adding to her conference leading total.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.