KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Lipscomb softball head coach Kristin Ryman didn’t like the outcome, but she liked the fight and spirit her team displayed.
The Lady Bisons, the No. 2 seed, fell 4-3 to Virginia Tech, the No. 3 seed, Friday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Knoxville Regional at Lee Stadium. They will face Charleston Southern Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in the loser’s bracket. At 6 p.m. the winner of the game will face the loser of Tennessee-Virginia Tech matchup scheduled for 1 p.m.
“Our main focus is to make sure we are giving ourselves an opportunity,” Ryman said. “If we can keep games close we are going to give ourselves a chance to win. We did that today, but things just didn’t bounce our way.
“Saturday we have to find a way to turn it around and bring the fight again. Every game can be our last. We are fighting for survival.”
Charleston Southern, 27-32-1 fell 12-3 to Tennessee in a game called after five innings due to the run rule. Charleston Southern is from the Big South Conference and is making its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
“There is rejuvenation with this group right now,” Ryman said. “It is frustrating knowing that we brought that effort and still lost. It feels better than it would if we had not shown up at all.”
The Lady Bisons, 39-14, took the early lead 1-0 but fell behind 3-1 before rallying to tie the game at 3-3.
Ryman thought her team learned some tough lessons.
“We learned we are a much different team when we bring the kind of energy and fight that we did against Virginia Tech,” Ryman said. “There is a different confidence about our players when we play that way.”
Ryman admits the Lady Bisons were not at their best mentally during the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament where they lost two games.
“We played hard, but we really didn’t have that fire about us,” Ryman said. “Even when we were cheering and getting excited there was something lacking. I think we got that back today.”
Game recap: Tied 3-3 with Virginia Tech at Lee Stadium in the seventh inning, Vanessa Gonzalez hit a ball that bounced off the glove of Lipscomb shortstop Bridgette Begle in the gap between short and third. The ball bounced to the top step of the Lipscomb dugout and was ruled a dead ball. Due to the call Lauren Gaskill scored on the play.
The Lady Bisons threatened in the seventh, but left runners on second and third for a 4-3 loss in the first round of the NCAA Knoxville Regional at chilly and windy Sherri Parker Field Friday afternoon. The Lady Bisons will play the loser of tonight’s game between Charleston Southern and Tennessee.
The Lady Bisons struck first capitalizing on a passed ball and an error to bring Brittany Elmore home with a run in the bottom of the first.
Virginia Tech moved ahead 3-1 in the third on a bases-loaded triple to right center by Amanda Ake.
In the sixth Begle singled to bring in two runs to tie the game at 3-3.
“It was a good sign that we scored first even though they turned around and got a bases clearing triple,” Ryman said. “It proved to our team we could score because we had done it once already.
“Virginia Tech got the key hit when they needed it. We had some great at bats and some great opportunities. We were driving the ball into the ground and using that harder infield.”
Begle, the No. 8 hitter, led the Lady Bisons with two of their five hits.
“Her single in the sixth was a huge hit,” Ryman said. “We had been saying before this tournament that we needed production from the bottom part of the order.
“When they get key hits, or even get quality at bats, what a difference it makes for us.”
Left-hander Ashley Anderson scattered 10 hits, struck out six and did not walk a batter. She is 19-7.
Kelly Heinz went the distance for Virginia Tech. She struck out four and walked three.
“Looking at the box score is a little deceiving,” Ryman said. “She was getting a lot of swings and misses early. I thought overall Ashley pitched a good game.”