Big bats help softball to wins over the Dolphins
Saturday, March 15, 2014
By Mark McGee
Big bats help softball to wins over the Dolphins

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Why do something in the first or second inning if you can put it off until the fifth, sixth, seventh or even the ninth inning?

That seems to be the motto for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons, a.k.a. the “Comeback Kids”.  Saturday at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium the Lady Bisons came back in both the seventh and eighth innings to tie the first game against Jacksonville. But they didn’t stop there. They rallied one more time in the ninth with a three-run homer by Brittany Elmore for the 10-7 win.

In game two the Lady Bisons used seven runs in the fifth inning to ice an 11-0 win. Brianne Welch’s first career grand slam ended the game early due to the run rule.

“This team always believes that it can win no matter what point we are in,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “I don’t think this team ever believes we are out of a game and that is a great feeling as a coach.

“But we talked to them between games about not relying on digging deep late in a game and finding a way to get big hits. We had bases loaded twice early in game one (first and second innings) and didn’t score. I would like to see them find ways to score those runs early and take some of the pressure off and set a tone.”

The two teams meet again Sunday at 2 p.m. to close out the Atlantic Sun series. Fans are encouraged to check in case of a time change due to the expected rainy weather.

The Lady Bisons are 23-4 overall, 6-2 in the A-Sun. Jacksonville slips to 11-14 overall, 3-5 in the conference.

Big hitters

Ryman likes the offensive power the team displays up and down the lineup

 “We have a lot of big hitters,” Ryman said. “I think anytime you have a good amount of home run-type hitters you are never out of a game. We have speed and power.

“We have a lineup that has been strong top to bottom throughout the year. Opponents don’t necessarily want to face us when they are ahead going into the seventh inning. We have proven enough this year that we can come back.”

In game two Welch drove in two runs with a single in the fourth to left field. With the grand slam, her fourth round-tripper of the season, she brought in a career high six runs. Welch’s two hits were a game high.

“Brianne just continues to do what she does,” Ryman said. “We continue to throw praise her way, but she deserves it right now.

“She continues to get key hits. If that had not been a home run it would have been enough to score a couple of runs which would have been enough to end the game. The fact that she really got ahold of one was cool for her.”

Elmore’s walk-off home run over the right field fence in the first game was her first home run of the season. Elmore drove in a game-high three runs.

Elmore, Kristen Sturdivant and Rena’ Cothron each had three hits in game one. Sturdivant hit a two-run blast over the left field fence as part of the three-run eighth. Cothron connected for a two-run double to right center to spark the three-run inning.

“Kristen’s hit was huge with two outs and our backs against the wall,” Ryman said. “Kristen went up looking for a pitch she could drive and she got it.

“Brianne has shown her power. Rena’ and Brittany both had really good offensive days. When you are getting extra base hits and some power out of the No. 1, No.7 and No. 9 hitters you are in a pretty good spot especially when the middle part of the order does what they can do.”

Working in the circle

Left-hander Ashley Anderson threw 7.2 innings in game one, allowing 11 hits and seven runs, all earned. She struck out five and walked two.

Right-hander Tanner Sanders, 8-2, relieved in the eighth and closed out the game with one strikeout, two walks and one hit in 1.1 innings for the win.

“We thought it was a good time to make a move and we went with Tanner,” Ryman said. “It was good to see her come in and have a good outing in relief.  She came into a key situation in the game and shut them down.”

Heather Parker, 6-2, earned the shutout with two hits, two walks and five strikeouts.

“It was a really good performance from Heather,” Ryman said. “Early in the game when she had a couple of runners on she worked out of it and kept the momentum going.

“She found ways to get ahead. She wasn’t walking many batters. Anytime you can do that you put yourself in a good situation.”

Ryman constantly reminds her players not to rest on their laurels.

“We have to come out Sunday and know that Jacksonville is going to continue to fight,” Ryman said. “They are going to come out and do everything they can to get one win. We have to stay focused.”