In game one Tuesday night of a doubleheader with the Hilltoppers at Draper Diamond the Lady Bisons won 3-2 in eight innings. They were victorious 9-5 in a rain-delayed game two.
The night was chilly and breezy with intermittent rain and a 37-minute rain delay in game two.
The Lady Bisons, 17-11, have won their last seven games, including three doubleheader sweeps. Western Kentucky slipped to 18-15.
In the third inning the Lady Bisons took a 2-0 lead. With two outs Whitney Kiihnl reached base on an error by the pitcher and stole second. Bree Thurman followed with a two-run home run blast over the left field fence. It was the fifth home run of the season for Thurman, who was briefly tied with Mollie Mitchell for the lead.
“Bree is hitting with a lot of confidence,” Lady Bisons’ coach Kristin Ryman said. “Even in at bats when she strikes out she always gives us a chance. She is a hitter that can provide that spark at the top of the order with her power and her speed.”
Western Kentucky, a Sun Belt Conference team, tied the game in the seventh inning with two runs. Pitcher Mallorie Sulaski helped her own cause hitting a single to center field that scored Clara Garcia who singled to left and Tiffany Gooch, a pinch-runner for Laura Smith who led off with a single to center.
The Lady Bisons won the game in the eighth. Mackenzie Tucker was placed on second. She moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Mitchell. Caroline Mason, this week’s A-Sun Player of the Week, singled up the middle to bring in Tucker with the winning run.
Kiihnl, 13-6, pitched a complete game. She allowed four hits and struck out 12. She did not walk a batter, but did hit one. Kiihnl is the A-Sun Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season.
Sulaski, 8-6, held the Lady Bisons to three hits. She walked five and struck out four.
“In game one we saw a pitcher that had done some good things this year,” Ryman said. “She finds a way to make you hit her pitches. We were fortunate to get a seeing-eye single up the middle.
“It was a game where we had to fight, fight, fight. We had to make all the little plays and find ways to win and we did that.”
In game two the Lady Bisons’ bats awakened with eight hits. The big hit for the Lady Bisons was a grand slam by Mitchell, who leads the team with six home runs.
Thurman led the Lady Bisons with three hits, including her fourth double of the season.
Courtney Billington also added a double.
“In the second game we found ways to score runs and consistently put balls in play,” Ryman said. “We gave ourselves opportunities every inning. That’s what we need offensively.”
J.J. Nelson, 2-4, won the game for the Lady Bisons. In 5.2 innings she scattered 11 hits and gave up three runs, all earned. She walked two and struck out three.
“We need J.J. and Ali Watson to throw as many innings for us as they can,” Ryman said. “We thought it was a good time to let Whitney come in and finish.”
Kiihnl pitched the final 1.1 innings. She gave up one hit and two earned runs. She walked three and struck out one.
“Whitney struggled a little in finding the zone,” Ryman said. “When we have a team down we have to put the nail in the coffin and finish it. She is still learning every game just like we all are.”
The game was tied 1-1 after one inning. The Lady Bisons took a 4-1 lead with three in the second. Western Kentucky added one run in the fourth and one in the sixth. They closed with two in the seventh.
The Lady Bisons added a run in the fifth and four in the sixth on the grand slam to left center by Mitchell.
This weekend the Lady Bisons return to Atlantic Sun action when Campbell visits Friday for a double header at 4.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.