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Elmore provides spark for Lady Bisons against SEMO

Saturday, February 22, 2014
by Mark McGee

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. - Brittany Elmore is often referred to as the spark for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons in the leadoff spot in the batting order.

Saturday afternoon at Greenbrook Park she lit the fuse early for the Lady Bisons with a single that set the pace for an inning where 11 batters went to the plate. Elmore, a sophomore center fielder, finished the day with three hits, a game high, and two runs batted in.

"I think Brittany took some big steps forward," Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. "She is working on not over-thinking. She just needs to see the ball and react. This was a good day to help her feel
comfortable again.

"When she is walking to the plate, and she has that little swagger about her, she is as good as any lead-off hitter there is."

Ryman is stressing to Elmore that even though she does set the tone for the team offensively, she is getting a lot of help down the order.

"Brittany doesn't have to do it all," Ryman said. "We have a team one-through-nine that is producing in every spot in the batting order.

"At times, as a leadoff hitter, you can put too much on your shoulders because you know you are a table setter. But we have a lot of table setters right now whether it is Brianne in the nine hole or Paige Neely in the No. 2 hole getting something going."

The Lady Bisons scored seven runs in the seventh and added four more in the fifth on the way an 11-0 win over Southeast Missouri State from the Ohio Valley Conference. The game was called after five innings due to the run-rule. The Lady Bisons pounded 10 hits.

The Lady Bisons, 11-1, are 3-0 in the Blues City Classic hosted by the University of Memphis. Southeast Missouri slipped to 3-3 for the season. The Purple and Gold close out the tournament Sunday when they face Missouri State at 10 a.m. and Murray State at noon.

The Lady Bisons connected for seven hits and seven runs in the first inning. The first out was a sacrifice fly by Rena' Cothron, the No. 8 hitter in the order.

"We had a great first inning," Ryman said. "We were hitting the ball well. This team is seeing the ball well right now. They are attacking from the get-go.

"Our No. 8 (Cothron) and No. 9 (Brianne Welch) hitters are such a spark at the bottom of the order. We are creating a situation where we almost have a second lead-off hitter to go with Brittany. Rena' and Brianne are having quality at bats. They are putting the ball in play and getting on base. It is a good situation to be in."

The big hits in the first inning were a two-RBI single up the middle by Kristen Sturdivant and a two-RBI double to right by Kelsey Cartwright.

"Overall, what pitcher doesn't like to see her team start that way," Ryman said. "You have a big cushion before you ever step on the field."

Heather Parker, 3-1, started for the Lady Bisons in the circle. In three innings she did not allow a hit. She walked one and struck out four.

"Heather did a great job again," Ryman said. "She definitely is looking more comfortable. She has gotten into a little bit of a groove the last couple of days. It has been a good tournament for her so far."

Taylor Neuhart made her collegiate debut in the circle. She pitched the final two innings. She allowed two hits and three walks, but also struck out three.

"That was good for Taylor," Ryman said. "It gave us a chance to see her work like we did McCarley Thomas Friday.

"It is difficult for players to figure out what they need to work on if they are not getting any innings in a game.  They know where they need to go back to work. We have film on them now."

In addition to Neuhart several other Lady Bison reserves saw playing time. Becca Dean connected for a hit. Madison Wray, Kasey Gibson and Jordan Abell pinch hit. Dee Baddley logged some time in left field.

Ryman continues to make sure her team stays on an even emotional keel. She expects both games Sunday will be challenging.

"It will be a good test to make sure we finish strong," Ryman said. "We want to come out and just continue attacking.

"We are really playing tight-knit as a team. They are really close. That is huge. We certainly don't think we have arrived. We certainly don't think we are as good as we are going to be."