March 24, 20131234567RHE
North Florida0000500561
Win: WALLACE (11-4) 7.094433
Loss: SANDERS (9-5) 7.065533
WILSON (UNF) 411000
THOMAS (UNF) 211010
HENDRIX (UNF) 301000
TEWEY (UNF) 301000
NEELY (LIP) 412000
Stranded runners costly in Lady Bisons loss
Sunday, March 24, 2013
By Mark McGee
Stranded runners costly in Lady Bisons loss

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – One bad apple may not spoil the whole batch, but one bad inning turned things sour for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons.

After jumping out to a 4-0 lead Sunday afternoon against North Florida the Lady Bisons gave up five runs in the fifth inning, four on a grand slam to center by designated player Mariah Reynolds. That was all North Florida needed for a 5-4 win in Atlantic Sun play at Draper Diamond.

Coach Kristin Ryman wants her team to realize the importance of every pitch, every fielding play and every at bat as the Lady Bisons face a tough string of A-Sun challenges.

“As good as we feel like we are, nobody else is going to know or believe it until we prove it,” Ryman said. “That is something we have to take to heart. Every single day we have to keep coming out and working hard and getting better.”

Ryman feels like the confidence of the team has grown each week. The big challenge for the Lady Bisons is to finish games, especially after taking an early lead.

“We can’t sit on a lead,” Ryman said. “We have seen that several times this year where we scored first or scored early and couldn’t finish the game.

“No lead is safe. We have to have the mentality that we are going to score as many runs as we can in seven innings. We can’t just score four runs and feel comfortable with it.”

A combination of rain and lightning delayed the game with one out in the bottom of the second inning. When play resumed the temperature dropped. Wind gusts of more than 30 miles were reported late in the game.

Freshman right-hander Tanner Sanders, 9-5, threw a complete game for the Lady Bisons. She allowed only six hits. She walked three and struck out three. She also hit one batter.

North Florida put two runners on base in the second and third innings and each time Sanders was able to walk off the field without giving up a run. In the fifth a lead-off double, a single and a pair of walks set the stage for the North Florida rally.

“Tanner is a really good pitcher,” Ryman said. “Unfortunately, she doesn’t have time to have a freshman year. We are asking a lot of her right now. She is completely capable of that or we wouldn’t ask it of her.

“She has worked out of jams so many times this year. She has helped herself, or she has helped pick us up defensively if we have had an error. This time she had some untimely walks. With the lead that we had you can’t give up a big hit. She will learn and grow from these situations.”

Ryman spread the blame for the loss around, especially the inability to drive in runs in key situations. Kristen Sturdivant connected for two singles, one for two runs batted in. Paige Neely also added a pair of singles. The big hit was a triple by Heather Montgomery in the second inning that drove in the first two runs for the Lady Bisons.

Despite those highlights the Lady Bisons left seven runners on base.

“There were a couple of innings where we could have pushed some extra runs across,” Ryman said. “We had plenty of opportunities. It may not seem like a big deal at the time, but every run matters.”

Kaylie Wallace, 11-4, went the distance for North Florida. She scattered nine hits, walked three and struck out three.

With the loss the Lady Bisons slipped to 14-15 overall, 3-6 in the conference. LU is 1-2 in its first three A-Sun series. North Florida is 24-10, 3-3 in the A-Sun.

The Lady Bisons will face a test this Wednesday when Southeastern Conference foe Kentucky visits Draper Diamond for a 6 p.m. game. It is the last home game for the Lady Bisons until April 10.

“At this point we are the underdog,” Ryman said. “And maybe we need to take that underdog mentality.

“We have to execute, finish and not create more pressure on ourselves. They have to go out and know that they are the best. We see the talent more and more every game. We have to keep on fighting.”