Lady Bisons split doubleheader against Stetson
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Lady Bisons split doubleheader against Stetson

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Lipscomb and Stetson softball teams entered the weekend as two of the hottest teams in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

So it wasn’t surprising to see them split a doubleheader Sunday afternoon at Draper Diamond. After winning game one 7-3, the Lady Bisons rallied for three runs in the seventh in game two but fell short 4-3.

“We saw this coming,” LU coach Kristin Ryman said. “Stetson came in here playing with a lot of momentum.”

The three-game series was cut short due to heavy rainfall Saturday. The Lady Bisons are 29-22, 15-8 in the conference. Stetson is 30-19, 13-12 in the A-Sun.

Lipscomb’s lone senior, Bree Thurman, was honored during “Senior Day” activities between games.

The Lady Bisons have earned a berth in the Atlantic Sun Tournament which will be held May 8-11 at Draper Diamond. They have three A-Sun games left on the road May 3 and 4 at Northern Kentucky.

Exact seeds for the six teams will not be complete until the final weekend of the season.

The Lady Bisons jumped out to a 6-0 lead in game one with two runs in the second and four in the third.

Stetson rallied for three runs in the fourth. The Lady Bisons answered with a run in the fourth. Bridgette Begle’s double to right center scored Brittany Elmore who reached base on a walk.

“I thought we did a nice job of jumping out on top early in game one,” Ryman said. “We had the one big inning.

“But Stetson did a make a run in game one. That is the type of team they have. You can’t give them any kind of edge. They can get on a roll in a hurry.”

The Lady Bisons were credited with six hits, four of them for extra bases. Kristen Sturdivant doubled. Paige Neely hit her eighth home run of the season. Haley Elliott tagged her seventh home run, a three-run shot to right field. Both home runs were hit in the third inning.

LU’s Heather Parker, 12-11, went the distance for the win. She gave up five hits and three runs, all earned. She walked four and struck out seven.

“Parker did a nice job of getting some key outs near the end,” Ryman said. “I thought defensively we did a nice job in the first game.”

In game two Stetson’s Meredith Owen went into the seventh inning with a one-hitter. But the Lady Bisons awakened at the plate.

Paige Neely led off the inning with a walk. That free pass was the first by Owen in 52 innings. She had faced 198 consecutive batters without giving up a walk.

Brianne Welch moved Neely to second with a sacrifice bunt. Mickey Bell followed with a two-run home run over the left field fence.

Sturdivant, the next batter, blasted a solo shot over the left field fence to trim Stetson’s lead to 4-3. It was Sturdivant’s  11 home run of the season.  But a ground out and a strike out ended the game.

Owen held LU to three hits. Haley Elliott connected for a single to center in the third inning. Owen, 21-7, struck out seven.

“We didn’t really hit until the last inning,” Ryman said. “We finally got our hands in the right spot and took advantage of a couple of pitches.

“We had our rally caps on. We gave ourselves a chance and that is what we wanted. I was glad we didn’t roll over at the end. We still had some fight. That was kind of the silver lining from the second game.”

Tanner Sanders, 16-9, threw six innings. She scattered five hits and allowed four runs, only one earned. Jordan Cleghorn was the big hitter for Stetson with a double and a home run. Owen added a double and a single.

Stetson capitalized on two hits and two LU errors to get three runs in the fourth.

“We didn’t take care of the ball,” Ryman said. “We made some key mistakes in key moments.

“That is not necessarily the norm for us. But we can’t get so caught up in getting one step ahead that we are not in the moment and making the play.”

Ashley Anderson, making her first appearance since March 20 against Tennessee Tech, closed out the game for the Purple and Gold. She threw one shutout inning. She did not give up a hit, but walked one batter.

“We don’t have a lot of regular season games left and we needed to see where she was at as we get closer to the tournament,” Ryman said. “Ideally, we would have liked to have seen that in a practice setting, but we felt like this was a good time to make a move. She throws well to lefties and they had a few in a row.

“I thought she did a really nice job. She worked ahead against most batters that she faced. She got them to hit ground balls which is what she does. Hopefully, this was a confidence booster for her.”