NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It is rare for a Southeastern Conference team to play on the home field of an Atlantic Sun Conference team.
Unfortunately, it is just as rare for an A-Sun team to beat an SEC team, though the Lipscomb Lady Bisons have done just that in the past. But Wednesday night it was not to be as the Kentucky Wildcats beat the Lady Bisons 8-1 in front of more than 300 fans at Draper Diamond.
Kentucky is ranked 20th in one poll and 21st in another.
In the second inning LU jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Gracey Aguirre hit a double to right center, her eighth of the season. Mickey Bell then reached base on a sacrifice bunt as Kentucky’s first baseman Maisie Steed made a throwing error. Aguirre scored on the error.
The Lady Bisons connected for only three hits. Brittany Elmore and Bridgette Begle each had singles. Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman wanted to see her team do more at the plate as the game progressed.
“A lot of it is being a smart softball player and being a smart hitter,” Ryman said. “If you are paying attention, whether you are in the game or not, you know what pitch she is going to throw.
“We saw a few hitters make a little bit of an adjustment. On the whole we didn’t make as many as we needed to make. There are little things you have to tweak to win the battle. It is you versus the pitcher. We can’t be stubborn. We have to be open to making those adjustments.”
Kentucky answered in the fourth with two runs, three in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh. There were three big hits for the Wildcats.
Griffin Joiner homered to left field to start the fourth inning. Joiner also added an RBI double to right in the fifth inning.
Lauren Cumbess hit a two-run home run to right field in the fifth. Ginny Carroll, the game leader with three hits, hit a two-RBI single to left field in the seventh.
Tanner Sanders, 9-6, opened for the Lady Bisons. She gave up five hits and two runs in 3.1 innings. She struck out one and walked one.
Heather Parker pitched the final 3.2 innings. She allowed six hits and six runs, all earned. She struck out five, walked two and hit a batter.
“Good teams are going to make adjustments as a game goes on,” Ryman said. “We knew going into the game that Kentucky was a team that could make adjustments quickly.
“We saw that against Tanner. They started adjusting well to her. The hits she gave up were hard hits.”
It was the same case for Parker who closed out the fourth inning with a strikeout. The Wildcats also made the necessary adjustments against her.
“Parker did a nice job getting out of the fourth inning,” Ryman said. “But the more they saw her, the more they adjusted.”
Ryman wants her pitchers to have the confidence to make the right pitches and to react to what pitching coach Paige Cassady calls.
“They have to continue to be smarter,” Ryman said. “They have to know that when coach Cassady calls a certain pitch they have to hit the spots. They have to trust that the pitch that is called is the pitch that needs to be thrown.”
Kelsey Nunley pitched the final five innings for Kentucky to raise her record to 15-3. She struck out five, walked three and hit one batter. Ellen Weaver pitched the first two innings for Kentucky.
The Lady Bisons are 14-16 overall. Kentucky is 24-8.
Thursday the Purple and Gold head to Fort Myers, Fla., to face Florida Gulf Coast in a crucial three-game series. Friday’s doubleheader starts at 4. Saturday’s single game is scheduled for 11 a.m.