KENNESAW, Ga. – The Lipscomb Lady Bisons left the door open too long for Kennesaw State.
After leading through 6 1/2 innings, the Lady Bisons allowed Kennesaw State to rally for three runs and five hits in the seventh inning for an 8-7 Atlantic Sun Conference win at Bailey Park. Courtney Sutter capped the game with a single up the middle.
“We have to do what we do offensively and then slam the door defensively,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “We can’t let our guard down. We can’t give them the hope of making a comeback.
“We have to stay more composed. We have to shut the door when we have the opportunity. We left the door open for them throughout the game and they took advantage of it.”
The Lady Bisons are 26-5, 8-3 in the A-Sun. Kennesaw State is 16-14, 6-3 in the conference.
After scoring four runs in the first inning, sparked by a three-run double off of the right center field wall by Mimi Cartwright, the Lady Bisons allowed Kennesaw State to get back in the game with two runs in bottom of the inning.
“That’s what we talked about after the game,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “When we score four runs in the first inning we can’t lose the game.
“We came out and set the tone the way we wanted to offensively but we didn’t come out and set the tone defensively in that first inning whether that was pitching or defense. They got two runs back.”
The game was decided in the seventh, but Ryman thought that several things that happened earlier in the game contributed to the outcome, including those two first inning runs.
“That gave them hope,” Ryman said. “After being shut out twice Saturday to get two runs in the first inning was a big deal for them.
“I don’t want to say it negated out four runs. But at the same time you could see the momentum shifting early. It gave them the hope that they could do this.”
Kennesaw State added a run in the third to trim the Purple and Gold’s lead to 4-3.
In the fourth, Rena’ Cothron was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Bridgette Begle walked. Brianne Welch advanced both runners with a sac bunt. Brittany Elmore brought them both home with a triple to right center. Paige Neely’s sac fly to left brought in the third run.
In the bottom of the fourth Kennesaw State added two more runs to trail 7-5 heading into the seventh.
“We have to do a better job of playing a complete inning whether it is in the first, the end of the game or throughout the middle,” Ryman said. “Our approach has to be the same in the seventh as it does in the first or the third.
“There were times when we could see the momentum of the team, our attitude and the way we were handling things kind of fluctuating. We have to do a better job of handling that.”
Right-hander Tanner Sanders started for the Lady Bisons in the circle. In four innings she gave up six hits and five runs, four earned. She walked two and struck out one.
Heather Parker, also a right-hander, started the fifth inning. She threw 2.1 innings allowing six hits and three runs, all earned. She struck out one and did not walk a batter.
“We are anxious to go back and watch some film to see what pitches were being hit and where those pitches were,” Ryman said. “We want to get a feel for what was going on down the stretch, and even early in the game.”
Amanda Henderson threw a complete game for Kennesaw State. She scattered six hits. Six of the seven runs she allowed were earned. She struck out 10 and walked two.
“We are definitely pleased that we got two out of three wins in the series,” Ryman said. “I think what this team has to figure out is how to close the door on a series.
“If we have the possibility of getting a sweep, and we felt like we did, then we have to get the sweep. Every single game matters. What separates the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds and the rest of the pack in the conference is that they win games like this.”