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Knnesaw State (32-23)
5/11/2012 | Spartanburg, S.C. | Attendance: 106
Friday, May 11, 2012
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball team has dealt with a lot of obstacles this season, but they didn't come up with a way to overcome a seven-run inning by Kennesaw State in the loser's bracket of the Atlantic Sun Tournament.
Friday afternoon here at sun-splashed Cyrill Stadium the Lady Bisons fell 9-2 to Kennesaw State, their second loss in the double-elimination tournament.
Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman knows that the road was seldom smooth for her team which finished with a 35-20 record.
"I feel like the improvements have been tremendous over the last six years," Ryman said. "This year we kind of started behind the eight-ball with pitching depth and with depth on the team overall.
"I thought our girls fought all year long. Honestly, we battled through some injuries that maybe in a normal year those players involved might have been out of practice longer or might not have played some games. They just battled through their injuries because they knew we had to have them."
The Lady Bisons opened the game with a first inning solo home run to left field by Kelsey Cartwright. Kennesaw State answered with two runs in the bottom of the first.
The Lady Bisons tied the game in the fourth when Cartwright slammed the first pitch of the inning over the center field fence for her second homer.
But Kennesaw State capitalized on three hits, two errors and four walks for seven runs in the bottom of the fourth to take complete control of the game with seven runs.
Ryman would have liked a better outcome,but she liked what she saw from her team on and off of the field.
"I've been impressed with the character of this team and how they continued to fight through things and represented us the way we wanted to be represented," Ryman said. "We could have packed it in after we lost the first game on Wednesday to Jacksonville, but we came out fighting Thursday and beat a good USC Upstate team. We ran into a big Kennesaw State team and had some things that didn't bounce our way."
Whitney Kiihnl threw her last game for the Lady Bisons. She allowed eight hits and nine runs, only two of them earned, in 3.2 innings. She struck out three and walked five. Ashley Anderson closed out the game, pitching 2.1 innings. She gave up three hits and walked one.
Amanda Henderson went the distance for Kennesaw State, scattering five hits, walking two and striking out three.
Catcher Mollie Mitchell also completed her college career, ending with one hit. Right fielder Caroline Mason will also not return next season.
"Whitney, Mollie and Caroline have all three meant a tremendous amount to our program, and not just from a numbers standpoint," Ryman said. "Obviously, they have put up some of the best careers of anybody who has ever played here.
"But it is what they have meant overall to our program. It is the type of people that they are and what they stand for. They are going to be missed."
The senior class next season will consist of center fielder Bree Thurman, who had a double to right center against Kennesaw State; Cartwright and Vanessa Medina who missed the season due to an injury.
"Hopefully, we have people ready to step into the shoes of this year's seniors and be the leaders we need," Ryman said.
Medina has been hampered by injuries the past couple of seasons, but she can be a force at the plate.
"Vanessa is a good hitter," Ryman said. "We anticipated her being in our line-up quite a bit before she got hurt. She will definitely be a threat to be in the line-up again.
Thurman will continue to hold down the center field position, but Ryman would like to see her retake the lead-off spot in the batting order.
"Bree held down the fort in center," Ryman said. "But we are going to look for her to transition a little bit.
"She has so much ability hitting-wise. She swings the bat really well, She has to cut down on the strikeouts and that is something she knows."
Cartwright, a transfer from Auburn this season, quickly fit in with the Lady Bisons. She finished the season with 18 home runs, a new Lipscomb single-season record.
"Everybody is going to know about Kelsey now," Ryman said. "They are going to game plan a little better for her.
"She has so much ability. She is going to continue to be a key power hitter in our line-up next year."
The Lady Bisons also said good-bye to graduate assistant coach Heather Collins, a former Lipscomb player who has worked with the team the past two years.
"We are going to miss her familiarity with the program," Ryman said. "She has been a big piece of what we have done the last two years."
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.