MT. PLEASANT, S.C. – Senior Whitney Kiihnl tossed a three-hit shutout and the Lady Bison softball team got timely hits up and down the order to defeat Louisiana Monroe 2-0 Sunday morning in their final game at the College of Charleston Classic.
The Lady Bison (7-3) would manufacture the first of many scoring chances in the first inning, putting runners on second and third with one out after a single by sophomore Rena’ Cothron and a double junior Kelsey Cartwright. A groundout to first and fly out to right field would end that opportunity for Lipscomb.
Louisiana Monroe (9-5) put two on to open the second after Janel Salanoa doubled and Kayla Boening walked. A Haley McCall bunt moved both runners into scoring position, but Kiihnl got Elena DiMattia on a groundout to third and struck out Miyuki Navarrete to end the threat.
Neither squad would put together a serious threat again until Lipscomb got on the board in the fourth inning. Following a walk issued to sophomore Kristen Sturdivant, classmate Haley Elliott doubled to left-centerfield. Sturdivant came around to score and give Lipscomb the lead.
“Top to bottom, we feel confident that somebody will step up every game and get it done at the plate,” said Lipscomb head coach Kristin Ryman. “Haley was big for us today. Kelsey Cartwright and Bree Thurman had a number of huge at-bats for us all weekend.
“We’re trying to find a group that works well together. Everybody is competing when they get their opportunities. We may continue to mix it up a little. They make it hard for me to fill out the line-up card, which is a good problem to have.”
Lipscomb loaded the bases in the home half of the fifth inning. Thurman reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second base, followed by a Cothron walk. After Cartwright went down on strikes, senior Caroline Mason was hit by a pitch to load the bases for senior Mollie Mitchell. She lined out to centerfield to end the inning, leaving three of a season-high tying ten runners stranded by Lipscomb against the Warhawks.
Thurman pushed across the other Lady Bison run in the sixth inning. After Elliott singled and stole second and freshman Gracey Aguirre walked, Thurman smoked a single into leftfield that scored Elliott and advanced Thurman to second and re-entered runner Bridgette Begle to third.
Kiihnl sat down the Warhawks 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh to end the game.
Kiihnl was stellar on the mound and at the plate today. She ran her record to 6-2, striking out nine and walking three in addition to three hits allowed. In the batter’s box, she went 2-for-3 with two singles.
“Whit started strong and really went after it today,” Ryman said. “We couldn’t ask for more from a starter. She’s really worked hard on staying mentally tough and kept Louisiana Monroe off-balance.
“She didn’t let them get on often, which was huge. They’re a team that likes to run, so limiting base runners and limiting their opportunities to create a run was big for us.”
Elliott was also 2-for-3, scoring one run and driving in another for the Lady Bison.
The Lady Bison end the College of Charleston Classic with a 4-0 record in South Carolina. Kiihnl picked up all four victories, three coming via shutout. Cartwright was stellar at the plate, hitting .500 (7-for-14) with two doubles, a triple, a home run and five runs batted in.
Lipscomb heads to Florida next weekend for the ESPN/Wide World of Sports Citrus Classic. The Lady Bison are scheduled to take on Long Island, South Alabama, Penn State, Ball State and St. John’s while in Orlando.
“It’s great for us to take momentum into next weekend,” Ryman said. “We had a late night last night, and waking getting back to the field at 7:30 was asking a lot of our girls. Our dugout gave us a lift and energy this morning. You could tell they wanted to leave here 4-0.”
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