MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Lipscomb Lady Bisons have made a habit of blockbuster endings in games this season.
The Lady Bisons struck for two runs in the top of the eighth and hung on for a 3-1 win Wednesday night at the Tiger Softball Complex at Memphis. It wasn’t the smoothest game they have ever played but the ending proved to be satisfying.
The Lady Bisons are unbeaten in four extra-inning games.
“I have been coaching this group of girls long enough to know what they physically and emotionally look like when they are at the top of their game,” said Kristin Ryman, head coach. “We looked a little flat early on. We told them they had to come out and attack the way we expect them to attack when we play USC Upstate this weekend. After that I thought we were attacking the ball better and had better at bats.
“It was a very close game throughout. I thought at moments we had some hard hit balls that were either hit right at them or weren’t carrying because there was a lot of wind. But at the same time they made some good plays against us.”
Kelsey Cartwright led all hitters with three and also led in runs batted in. She brought home the first run of the game in the third with a single up the middle that scored Paige Neely who had reached base on a two-out double to center.
The Lady Bisons held on to a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh. Lipscomb left-hander Ashley Anderson struck out the first two batters, but then gave up a triple to Kelly Braman. Memphis pitcher Ellen Roberts then helped her own cause with a single up the middle to tie the game at 1-1.
“I thought the triple Ashley gave up was a pitch that the hitter really stayed on well and hit it down the right field line,” Ryman said. “We weren’t shaded that way. It was the perfect spot for her to get a triple. The single was a chopper up the middle.
“I thought we did stay composed once we gave up the one run. Ashley continued to do what she had been doing the entire game and worked out of it.”
In the eighth the Lady Bisons quickly responded. Kelsey Cartwright doubled down the left field line to score Neely for the second time. Neely had singled to left and advanced to second on a fielding error by the left fielder.
Kristen Sturdivant added an insurance run when she singled to right field to score Kelsey Cartwright.
“Kristen had progressively better at bats as the game went on,” Ryman said. “She fought and fought in the last at bat. She was kind of frustrated with herself that it was bloop single and not a shot like she is used to hitting.
“She battled the pitcher (3-2 count). She forced her to throw a lot of pitches and when you do that you are going to break through. I thought that was the cool thing about her at bat. That was a key at bat for us.”
Bridgette Begle had a pair of singles to join Kelsey Cartwright and Neely with multiple hits. Neely extended her hitting streak to nine games.
“We had nine hits, but at times it didn’t feel like that,” Ryman said. “We left a lot of runners on base. We would get one runner on and not be able to score.
“Paige and Kelsey had great nights. Bridgette and Rena’ Cothron had great nights. I thought Mimi Cartwright hit the ball hard at times, but right at people. We have to get everybody back in synch again because that is when we are the most dangerous.”
Anderson, 12-0, struck out 10 batters, scattered four hits, walked one and hit one batter. She has 69 strikeouts for the year, shattering her previous season high of 59 in 2012. She is one short of tying her all-time season high for victories.
“Ashley was awesome,” Ryman said. “You take away the seventh inning and she really dominated the game. They weren’t making solid contact."
The Lady Bisons are 27-5. Memphis, from the American Athletic Conference, slips to 13-18.
This weekend the Lady Bisons are back on the road in Spartanburg, S.C., to face USC Upstate in a crucial three-game Atlantic Sun series.