SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Shortstop Courtney Billington drilled a double into left-center in the bottom of the sixth inning plating catcher Mollie Mitchell giving the Lipscomb Lady Bisons the only run they would need to defeat USC Upstate 1-0 Thursday afternoon in the 2011 Atlantic Sun Championship hosted by USC Upstate at Cyrill Stadium.
Mitchell’s run was unearned as Spartans’ center fielder Katie Zauner bobbled the ball allowing her to reach home. Mitchell had reached base with a one-out single up the middle.
The game was a dual between two of the top pitchers in the league. All-Conference second team member Whitney Kiihnl (20-9) pitched a two-hit complete game for the Lady Bisons striking out eight.
“This was one of the top pitching matchups in the tournament and to see this it in the second round is a special thing,” Lipscomb head coach Kristin Ryman said.
First team member Morgan Childers (29-7) threw six innings for Upstate striking out 11 and allowing four hits.
“Morgan is a great pitcher and she kept us off balance for most of the game,” Ryman said. “We had one key hit and a lot of that is credit to her.”
Kiihnl had her most trying inning in the first frame as runners reached second and third following a walk, single, and double steal to open the game. The Lady Bisons escaped as Lauren Quevedo struck out and Ericka Harris flew out to center field.
Kiihnl quickly settled in and retired 15 of the final 16 batters she faced allowing only a hit batter to reach in the fifth inning. She allowed four base runners on the day.
In the bottom of the first Lipscomb put two runners on the base paths as Kiihnl reached first on a wild pitch on a strike out and Caroline Mason singled up the middle.
The Lady Bisons didn’t record another hit until the fifth inning when Bridgette Begle got the benefit of a strange bounce on a bunt for the infield single with no outs. She was later called out stealing second in a hit and run attempt.
Lipscomb improves to 29-18. USC Upstate snapped a nine-game winning streak to fall to 42-12. The Lady Bisons are now 5-0 all-time at Cyrill Stadium.
Lipscomb advances to the semifinals to face No. 1 seed Jacksonville at 11:30 a.m. central time. Fans can watch the game for free on ASun.TV.
The matchup is also expected to be a pitcher’s duel with Jacksonville’s Sarah Sigrest being an All-Conference first team member.
“The more we can focus on each at bat and improving from at bat to at bat will important,” Ryman said. “If we don’t get hits we must try to make things happen in order to be successful by doing things like increase the pitch count or moving the runners over”