April 05, 201412345RHE
East Tennessee State10000122
Win: PARKER (8-3) 5.021137
Loss: CARTER (10-7) 3.211101002
WOLFF (ETSU) 301000
BAIRD (ETSU) 301100
ELMORE (LIP) 322000
NEELY (LIP) 312100
COTHRON (LIP) 312501
April 06, 20141234567RHE
East Tennessee State1000010252
Win: ANDERSON (15-2) 7.052104
Loss: LEON (2-6) 4.244330
FOX (ETSU) 322000
COTHRON (LIP) 302000
Hot hitting streak by Paige Neely could bring victory over ETSU
Friday, April 4, 2014
By Mark McGee
Hot hitting streak by Paige Neely could bring victory over ETSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Paige Neely has been the model of consistency for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons.

Heading into a three-game Atlantic Sun softball series Saturday and Sunday with ETSU, Neely has a 14-game hitting streak, the longest of the season for the Lady Bisons.

“Paige is a hitter who has performed in a variety of roles this year,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “She can lead off an inning or she can get that key RBI hit.

“We like having her up in the top part of the order at No. 2 because she is our most consistent hitter. She is the type of hitter that not many pitchers enjoy pitching to. She can hit a lot of different pitches well.”

Game time for Saturday’s doubleheader at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium will be at 1 p.m. Sunday’s single game, designated “Strike Out Cancer” Day, also has a 1 p.m. start.

The Lady Bisons are 28-9 overall, 8-6 in the A-Sun. ETSU is 15-18, 4-8 in the conference. Both teams split mid-week games. The Lady Bisons beat UAB 2-1 and then lost the nightcap 5-3 Wednesday night. ETSU lost 8-5 to Presbyterian in game one and rebounded for a 5-1 decision in game two Thursday night.

Neely leads the Lady Bisons in batting average (.398), hits (51), runs scored (35), total bases (72), doubles (10) and sacrifice flies (5).

“Game in and game out Paige is not only finding ways to put the ball in play but to get on base and drive in runs,” Ryman said. “I expect her to have another good weekend.”

ETSU preview

Ryman is stressing to her players the importance of not downplaying ETSU based on the team record.

“Offensively, ETSU is definitely a team you can’t feel comfortable with,” Ryman said. “They have some decent athletes.

“They have a scrappy team. They are not going to strike out a lot. They are going to put the ball in play and make us have to make plays. We can’t give them the open door.”

One of the concerns for the Lady Bisons is ETSU’s Jackie Baird. She is batting .322 and leads the team with 13 home runs out of her 29 hits. She has a .767 slugging percentage and a team-leading 31 RBI.

“Jackie Baird is having a great year offensively for ETSU,” Ryman said. “She is by far their biggest power threat. She is definitely that hitter that you don’t want to let beat you.”

ETSU uses three pitchers. Taylor Carter, 10-6, has a 3.24 earned run average. Katie Wolff is 3-8 with a 4.53 ERA. Whitney Leon is 2-4 with a 5.81 ERA.

Ryman has talked to her players about the importance of taking control of games early.

“We have to score early and continue to score throughout the game,” Ryman said. “We have to force them to play catch up.

“We have to feel the confidence again. We had some strikeouts against UAB but I felt like we were taking pretty good cuts. We had moments of frustration, but we also had some good moments. We want to build off the good things we saw against UAB.”

*All nine regular batters for the Lady Bisons are in double figures in runs batted in. Kristen Sturdivant leads the way with 32 tying her previous season high in 2013.

Kelsey Cartwright is close behind with 29.

*Four Lady Bisons are batting in the .300 range. In addition to Neely, Kelsey Cartwright and Paige Cothron are tied for second among active hitters at .344. Lead-off hitter Brittany Elmore is batting .308. 

* The Lady Bisons are 10-2 at home. 

* Left-hander Ashley Anderson, 13-2, has equaled her season high for wins set in 2012. She has shattered her previous season high for strikeouts. She had 59 in 2012, but already has 78 this season. She has a 1.91 earned run average. Teams are batting .214 against her.

Tanner Sanders, a right-hander, is 8-4 with a 3.47 ERA. She has struck out 23 batters in 66.2 innings.

Right-hander Heather Parker, 7-3, has posted a 3.67 ERA. She has recorded 47 strike outs in 61 innings.

Be aware

When the Lady Bisons take the field Sunday they will be wearing pink jerseys to call attention to breast cancer awareness.

The theme of the game with ETSU is “Strike Out Cancer”. The first 100 fans in attendance will receive a pink T-shirt.

“There will be some exciting activities going on,” Ryman said. “We encourage everyone to come out to the park and wear pink. It should be a fun day for everybody.”

Julianne Turner from Florence, Ala., will throw out the first pitch. She has undergone a lumpectomy and lymph node removal. After 33 radiation treatments and six months of chemotherapy she has been in remission since November of 1998.

She will be accompanied by her children, Jackson and Abbey.