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Knnesaw State (25-21)
4/20/2012 | Kennesaw, Ga. | Attendance: 0
Knnesaw State (26-21)
4/20/2012 | Kennesaw, Ga. | Attendance: 303
Friday, April 20, 2012
KENNESAW, Ga. – At 5-5 in Atlantic Sun play heading into a crucial Friday match-up with Kennesaw State, the Lady Bison softball team knew they needed to take at least one victory off the Owls to keep pace in the conference standings.
The Lady Bisons earned a hard-fought split with the conference-leading Owls, taking the first game 1-0 before dropping the second game 7-1. Lipscomb moves to 28-14 (6-6 in the A-Sun) while Kennesaw State sits at 26-21 (10-4 A-Sun).
“Kennesaw State is one of the best teams in the league,” said Lipscomb head coach Kristin Ryman. “It was a good split.”
The Owls threatened in the third inning of game one, getting Carly Van Auken all the way to third after she led the inning off with a single. Jensen Hackett reached on an error and both moved up a base on a Jessica Cross ground out. Sharon Swanson struck out swinging with two in scoring position to end the threat.
The Lady Bisons broke through in the fifth. After designated player Haley Elliott led the inning off with a double into the left-center gap, junior Bree Thurman hit a double two batters later to score sophomore Rena’ Cothron, who pinch-ran for Elliott.
The RBI was the ninth of the year for Thurman, and just her second since March 10.
That was all senior Whitney Kiihnl would need to earn her season's 20th victory. The Batesville, Miss. native went the distance for her 23rd complete game and eighth shutout, scattering three hits and striking out nine.
By earning her 20th victory, Kiihnl has now won 20 games or more three years in a row. She is the only Lipscomb pitcher to win 20 games in the Division I era.
“Taking game one is always big,” Ryman said. “It gets you excited to try for the sweep in the second game.”
Game Two – Kennesaw State 7, Lipscomb 1
Kennesaw State got off to a better start in the second game, with Bianca Durant tagging a two-run home run in the home half of the first inning.
The Lady Bisons got one back in the fourth on a Caroline Mason double. That scored senior Mollie Mitchell, who drew a one-out walk, for Mason’s 21st RBI this season.
The Owls broke the game open in the bottom of the fourth, putting four runs on the board. Starter Ashley Anderson was relieved by Kiihnl after allowing a single and a walk to open the inning.
Kiihnl allowed a pop-up, a single to load the bases and a fielder’s choice by first baseman Kristen Sturdivant to nail the lead runner at the plate. That loaded the bases with two outs for Swanson, the A-Sun’s home run leader, who promptly unloaded on the first pitch she saw for a grand slam to center field.
“A hit like that changes the game,” Ryman said. “It gives one team such a momentum boost that it’s tough to get it back.”
Lindsay Vollmer led off the fifth with a solo home run to cap off the scoring.
The Lady Bisons were limited to three hits in the second game, with Mason’s double being the only one to go for extra bases. Cothron and Elliott added the other two base knocks for Lipscomb.
Ryman, who unveiled different batting orders in both games, was pleased with the overall effort.
“We came out better today,” she said. “We’re on our way back to where we need to be. The biggest key for us right now is to take who we feel like our best hitters are at the moment and put them at the top of the order.
“Today, it worked out at various times that key people came up for us in key situations. Plus, it helps those that are struggling a little bit see some better pitches to hit.”
The Lady Bisons will be back in action tomorrow in Macon, Ga. for a doubleheader against Mercer. The Bears were swept by Belmont, Friday.