SOUTHAVEN, Miss. - Brianne Welch was told last summer by the Lipscomb softball coaching staff what she needed to do to be a regular player.
Apparently, she listened.
"A lot of it is confidence," Lipscomb Lady Bisons coach Kristin Ryman said. "She has one of the best work ethics on the team.
"When she came back from the summer you could tell she had worked on some stuff. Even over Christmas break she got after it because we sent her home with a few things to work on."
Welch led the offensive attack for the Lady Bisons with a game-high three hits in a 7-2 win over Murray State Sunday afternoon in the Blues City Classic hosted by the University of Memphis. One of her hits was a solo home run to left center to lead off the fourth inning.
Batting in the ninth spot she is batting .394 for the season, the second highest average on the team.
"Brianne is tearing it up right now," Ryman said. "A lot of people might wonder why we keep her in the ninth hole. But like I said the other day she is like a second leadoff hitter for us down there. If we get to the bottom part of the order and she stays hot, it is that much bigger for us when we get back to the top of the order."
Welch, a junior, has always been known for her defensive skills in left field. But her hitting issues had kept her from being a regular.
"Brianne is a competitor," Ryman said. "It was eating at her that she was not a regular player.
"She is a smarter hitter. She has had some big hits. She is huge threat in the bottom of the order for us because she can run, she can hit it out and she can hit gap-to-gap. She is getting a lot of quality at bats."
With the Murray State win the Lady Bisons, 12-2, split the final day of the Blues City Classic at Greenbrook Park. They opened the day with a 7-2 loss to Missouri State.
Murray State is 7-5 after the loss. The Lady Bisons finished the tournament with a 4-1 record.
Welch and Gracey Aguirre were named first team all-tournament. Ashley Anderson and Kelsey Cartwright were named to the second team.
With two runs in the first inning against Murray State the Lady Bisons set the tempo of the game.
Paige Neely connected for two hits, including a two-RBI double. She leads the Lady Bisons with a .432 average.
The Lady Bisons pounded 10 hits off of three Murray State pitchers.
Left-hander Ashley Anderson, 4-0, went the distance for the Lady Bisons. She gave up four hits, including a solo home run and two runs, one earned. She struck out four and did not walk a batter.
"Ashley is in the mindset right now that she wants the ball," Ryman said. "It is great to see that she wants the ball in big games. She had a lot of success."
In the Missouri State game the Lady Bisons fell behind 2-0 in the first. They added one run in the second off of a home run to left field by Elena Gambill, the No.9 hitter.
In the fourth Missouri State capitalized on four Lipscomb errors to add four runs.
The Lady Bisons threatened in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings by getting their first two batters on base. They finally produced two runs in the seventh on an RBI-single by Neely and a run by Brittany Elmore on a scoring error.
Tanner Sanders, 5-1, threw a complete game for the loss. She gave up eight hits, four earned runs and two walks. She struck out five.
The Lady Bisons connected for eight hits. Welch slammed double and added a single. Gracey Aguirre finished with two hits.
The Lady Bisons are back in action Wednesday when they make the short trip to Belmont for a doubleheader.
"It was an interesting day," Ryman said. "We would have liked to finish 2-0, but we learned a lot.
"Missouri State came out and set the tone early. We talked a lot about, whether we are home or the visitors, we have to set the tone with either our defense or our hitting. It was good to see how we turned it around against Murray State after a frustrating loss."