Sanders and Aguirre sweep A-Sun Player of the Week awards
Monday, May 6, 2013
By Mark McGee
Sanders and Aguirre sweep A-Sun Player of the Week awards

MACON, Ga. – The Lipscomb Lady Bisons followed up their sweep of Northern Kentucky with a sweep of the final weekly Atlantic Sun softball awards.

Right fielder Gracey Aguirre was named A-Sun Player of the Week and Tanner Sanders was honored as A-Sun Pitcher of the Week. It was the first time this season that either player had won the award. It was the second honor for Aguirre in her career.

Sanders was also named as “College Sports Madness” A-Sun Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season.

LU coach Kristin Ryman likes the boost it gives both players as they head into the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament which begins this week at Draper Diamond. The Lady Bisons, the No. 4 seed, will face No. 5 seed Kennesaw State at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The double-elimination tournament continues through Saturday on the Lipscomb campus.

“She and Heather Parker both had good performances in the Northern Kentucky series,” Ryman said. “But what is really funny about it is that neither one of them threw exceptionally well, as far as seeing their pitches moving, and hitting spots.

“They weren’t always spot on with their locations and things like that. But we were getting the results that we wanted.”

Sanders, 17-9, closed out the regular season with a 6-0 no-hit performance at Northern Kentucky. She struck out seven for her fifth shutout and first no-hitter. She started her freshman season with a shut out of Iowa on the road and closed out the regular season with the shut out at Northern Kentucky.

“A win is a win and a no-hitter is a pretty impressive thing to accomplish,” Ryman said. “I think it is a good boost from a mentality standpoint to get a game like that under your belt and feel good from a results standpoint.

 “But we still want to go back to work and make sure we are tweaking things the next couple of days. We want to make sure we are getting Sanders and Parker as well as the entire team where we need to be mentally and physically going into this weekend.”

Aguirre proved she is recovered from an injury that has hampered her the past couple of series. She batted .600 for the series and posted two hits in each game. She has 12 multi-hit games this season.

She also stole two bases, drove in one run and scored once.

“Gracey has battled through a lot,” Ryman said. “She has gutted it out. This time of the year you don’t have too many choices – you can either not play or you can gut it out.

“She is feeling better. I was really proud of her effort over the weekend. I thought she really zoned back in and found a way to do her job and put the ball in play on the ground. She was just punching the ball through the infield.”

The Purple and Gold are 19-5 when Aguirre bats in the clean-up position. She has 13 doubles this season and is ranked 48th nationally in doubles per game.

“With a four-hole hitter you expect home runs and extra bases hits,” Ryman said. “She is going to get some of those power numbers, but she is more of a kid who hits for average. Having someone in the fourth spot who is putting the ball in play, whether it is a single or home run, is important.”

The biggest reason for Aguirre’s success at the plate is her ability to limit her strikeouts. She has 14 heading into the tournament, the second year in a row she has recorded the lowest number of strikeouts on the team. Mickey Bell is close behind with only 16.

“Gracey does a better job of battling with two strikes than most hitters,” Ryman said. “She came in here as that kind of a hitter.

“She has a good eye at the plate. She is up there in the lineup because average-wise she has done a nice job for us. She brings some power potential, but the biggest thing is her consistency.”