NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb softball team walked away with two wins in a doubleheader at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium Saturday.
The wins highlighted the already memorable day as the stadium was officially dedicated to Michael Smith and his son Derek, owners of Rio Grande Fence Company who have been highly active in the Lipscomb softball program providing the team with one of the best complexes at the collegiate level.
In game one the Lady Bisons took a decisive 9-1 decision over Mercer in five innings before coming from behind in extra innings in game two to win 5-4.
With both wins the Lady Bisons improved to 33-9 overall and 13-6 in Atlantic Sun play. Mercer dropped to 29-16 overall and 11-7 in the conference.
“I thought we did a really good job today,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “We came out today with a vengeance and I thought we did a good job overall.”
Paige Neely and Haley Elliott highlighted game one after they each slammed home runs for the Lady Bisons.
Neely’s four -RBI game helped pitcher Ashley Anderson, 16-2, pick up the win after working five innings in the circle and only allowing one run on two hits. She struck out two and walked one.
“I thought Ashley continued to do what she does and really had their number in game one and only gave up two hits,” Ryman said. “It was a shortened game but I thought she was doing a nice job.”
Julia Rice took the loss for Mercer and fell to 8-4 on the year after exiting the game after only one inning of play. She allowed three runs on three hits, walked four and struck out two.
In game two, Mercer jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after Krista Kennedy hit a two-run home run over the left center field wall.
Lipscomb answered with one run after Brittany Elmore began the inning with a double before advancing to third on an error by center fielder, McKenzie Woody.
“In game two they jumped out with the early lead but I love how we fought back,” Ryman said. “I just saw a lot of fight in our team today. It was really good to see.”
Kelsey Cartwright lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to plate Elmore and bring the Lady Bisons within one run.
Mercer responded with two runs of their own in the top of the second to put the Lady Bisons in a hole 4-1.
After Rena’ Cothron and Bridgette Begle led off the bottom of the second with back-to-back singles, Elmore brought them around to score after a single of her own up the middle to make it a 4-3 game.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Paige Neely came up big with her third triple of the season. Kelsey Cartwright followed with a single into right field to plate Neely and knock the game at 4-4.
Mimi Cartwright got on base in the eighth inning with a leadoff walk.
After back-to-back strikeouts the Lady Bisons were down to their final out.
Mercer’s Riley Carter issued back-to-back free passes to load the bases for the hot-hitting Neely. The junior third baseman hit a ground ball that the shortstop couldn’t handle and pinch runner Becca Dean came around for the game-winning run.
“There were so many key hits off and on throughout the day but overall I thought it was two good team wins with a lot of contributions from everybody,” Ryman said.
Tanner Sanders took the win for the Lady Bisons after working six shutout innings while only giving up one hit. She improved to 9-4 on the year.
“I thought today was a big day for Tanner,” Ryman said. “She’s fought through some things and has been trying to take advantage of her opportunities when she’s getting them, and today she really did and really saved us in a lot of ways.
“I thought early on they had the momentum. When she came in we were down 4-1 and I thought she did a nice job of just holding them the rest of the way and giving our offense a chance to pick up some steam.”
Carter fell to 5-2 on the season for the Bears. She threw one-and-one-third innings. She allowed one run on no hits and recorded three strikeouts and three walks.
The Lady Bisons are looking forward to finishing out the series Sunday after what they believe has been a great week of opportunities.
“We’ve been a little bit weaker on Sundays so we want to make sure we are doing everything in our power to come out and not let that happen and show up and do our part,” Ryman said. “The girls are hitting their stride. They are anxious for Sunday.
“I think coming into Sunday we are going to try to stay hungry and get the sweep and make it two in a row and hopefully pick up some steam coming down the stretch.”