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Mercer University (29-15)
4/12/2014 | Nashville, Tenn. | Attendance: 167
Mercer University (29-17)
4/13/2014 | Nashville, Tenn. | Attendance: 183
Friday, April 11, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Call them the “Terrible Trio”.
Leadoff hitter Brittany Elmore, No. 2 batter Paige Neely and No. 3 hitter Kelsey Cartwright bring endless possibilities and options at the plate for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons with a rare combination of consistent hitting, power surges and base running.
The Lady Bisons will need all of the offense they can muster this weekend when they face Mercer at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium. Game time for the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader is 1 p.m. Sunday’s single game is also scheduled for 1.
Third place in the Atlantic Sun is on the line. Mercer is 29-14, 11-5 in the conference. Lipscomb is 21-9, 11-6 in the A-Sun.
“We have had a great lineup all year,” Ryman said. “We have had contributions and clutch hits and runs from everybody.
“Three players who we believe pitchers don’t want to pitch to from a consistency standpoint are Paige Neely, Brittany Elmore and Kelsey Cartwright. Kelsey has moved up and down the order. Brittany was slow getting it started. But overall we are right where we want to be with those three.”
Elmore, Neely and Kelsey Cartwright are expected to set the tone offensively.
“That takes the pressure off of the middle part of the order and the bottom part of the order,” Ryman said. “The bottom part of the order is getting better pitches to hit because they don’t want to put those runners on base and come back around to Brittany, Paige and Kelsey.
“Our goal is to get those three as many bats as we can. Brittany is into more of a groove. Paige continues to do her thing. And Kelsey is really starting to turn it on. Even when they have moments when they struggle they are still three of the best hitters that we have.”
Between games Saturday, at approximately 3 p.m., there will be an official dedication of Smith Stadium.
Smith Stadium will honor the families of Michael Smith and son Derek Smith who own Rio Grande Fence Company, one of Nashville's most respected businesses since 1958.
The Smith family has been instrumental in elevating the softball complex into one of collegiate softball's premier facilities.
Besides the construction of a 500-seat stadium, the Smith Family has generously assisted the Lipscomb softball program with a new stadium entrance surrounded by brick columns with flag poles adjoined by Rio Grande fencing, a new padded outfield wall and new backstop padding, a new windscreen that includes extensive branding throughout the park, new in-dugout restrooms for both home and away teams and a new inning by inning LED scoreboard that includes a decorative truss and Lipscomb branding.
The Lady Bisons have won the last seven meetings between the two teams dating back to April 9, 2010.
Ryman stresses that her players know what is at stake this weekend.
“We don’t have to do anything to build this up,” Ryman said. “The standings are on the wall in our locker room. They are aware to where we stand.
“It is not to make them press. It is to make them aware. They know where Mercer and Stetson are right now in comparison to us. We don’t have to talk about it that much.”
The Lady Bisons are rated 33rd in the NCAA Division I RPI this week. The have won their last three games after recording their first A-Sun sweep of the season last weekend against ETSU.
In the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 the Lady Bisons received two votes
Mercer is ranked 38th in the RPI.
Both teams have strong offensive attacks. The Lady Bisons are batting .310 as a team and Mercer is batting .303.
Four Lady Bisons player – Neely (.394), Rena’ Cothron (.369), Kelsey Cartwright (.349) and Elmore (.321) - are batting over .300.
All nine of the regulars in the batting order are in double figures in RBI. Sturdivant leads the way with a career season high 36.
Sturdivant leads the team in home runs with eight.
Left-hander Ashley Anderson, 15-2 with a 1.78 earned run average, is the No. 1 starter for the Lady Bisons.
“Ashley owns it,” Ryman said. “She is a competitor. She wants the ball. She is going out and doing what we need her to do.
“If a pitch misses she wants to get it right next time. If a pitch is not working exactly the way we want it to early in a game she is back out in the bullpen working on it during the game. She has worked at it and worked at it.”
Anderson as well as Heather Parker and Tanner Sanders will be challenged by Mercer.
McKenzie Woody leads Mercer with a .359 average. Also batting in the .300 range are Kaytlin Haney (.341), Taylor Miller (.339), Krista Kennedy (.325) and Kaylynn Sloat (.310).
Caroline Taylor leads Mercer with 13 home runs. Haney has driven in 45 runs followed by Taylor with 41.
Kirsten Stevens leads the pitching staff with an 11-4 worksheet and a 2.05 ERA. She has 70 strikeouts in 102.1 innings.
“We are excited to be at home,” Ryman said. “We have a big weekend coming up as far as the dedication of the field.
“Mercer is having a good year. The main goal is for our girls to feel confident and comfortable and make sure we are in an attack mode.”