SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Coaches often say one of the reasons for playing a tough non-conference schedule is to prepare a team for key conference matches ahead.
The Lipscomb Lady Bisons played arguably the most rugged non-conference schedule in the history of the program. Saturday at Cyrill Stadium they saw the results of that effort as they split a crucial Atlantic Sun doubleheader with USC Upstate.
The Lady Bisons lost game one 10-5, but rebounded in the nightcap to take a 9-0 win over USC Upstate.
“I know we lost in game one, but I thought overall it was a good day,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “You have to credit Upstate’s hitters. They are good hitters one through nine.
“The key is can you stop them enough to outscore them? At any moment in a game they have the potential to get something going.”
The loss was only the second one in the A-Sun for Upstate this season. The Lady Bisons are 23-23 overall, 8-6 in the A-Sun. Upstate is 36-8 overall, 15-2 in the conference.
“I loved the fight and the fire in our team,” Ryman said. “It is what we needed.
“We have some people playing who are banged up and they keep gutting through it. To me that is the sign of a team that is mentally tough. This is the time of year when you want to be playing your best.”
Tanner Sanders, 11-10, went the distance for the Lady Bisons for her second shutout of the season. She scattered five hits, walked four and struck out three.
“Tanner pitched an unbelievable game,” Ryman said. “The cool thing is that at any point in time we can get that kind of performance out of Tanner and Kelly Young. That makes us a scary team down the stretch.
“No one wants to face us in this home stretch or in the tournament. We are the type of team that even though we haven’t been consistent the whole year we are peaking at the right moment.”
The Lady Bisons scored three runs in the second, one in the third and five in the seventh. They connected for 15 hits.
Mimi Cartwright and Brittany Elmore led the way with three hits. Elmore also drove in two runs.
Caitlin Plocheck also added two hits and one RBI.
Gracey Aguirre tagged a couple of hits.
Laura Dukes drove in a run with a single. Brianne Welch drove in two runs with a double to left center.
Paige Neely singled to left center to drive in two runs.
In game one in the first inning the Lady Bisons opened with a run. Upstate tied the game in the second.
Upstate added four runs in the fourth for a 5-1 lead, but the Lady Bisons weren’t going to go down without a fight.
In the fifth they rallied for three runs on a two-run homer to left field by Caitlin Plocheck and a solo home run blast to right center by Brittany Elmore.
In the sixth Upstate came back strong with five runs including a three-run home run.
Elmore led the Lady Bisons with three hits. She tied Plocheck for the RBI lead with two.
Kelly Young, 12-13, took the loss for the Lady Bisons. In 5.1 innings she allowed 13 hits and nine earned runs. She walked four and struck out one.
The Lady Bisons finished with eight hits against Upstate’s ace pitcher Lexi Shubert, 26-5.
“The thing that I am the most proud of in game one is that Lexi Shubert is a very good pitcher and we kept battling her,” Ryman said. “We found a way to get a good barrel on the ball which is tough to do against her. It was good to see,”
The final game in the series is schedule for Sunday at noon CT weather permitting to close out the crucial Atlantic Sun series.
- Elmore stole two bases in game two giving her 101 for her career and 39 for the season, both career highs.
- This was only the third time this season Upstate has been shut out in a game. Florida State beat the Spartans 2-0 March 12. South Carolina beat them 3-0 April 7. Both of those shut outs were on the road.
- The win in game two ended the Lady Bisons losing streak against Upstate at seven games. The Lady Bisons hold a 15-11 record overall in the series.
- Elmore has reached base in the past 25 straight games. Neely has been on base in the past 12 games.
- Elmore has a 14-game hitting streak, the longest on the team this season.
- Cartwright tied her season high for hits in a game. She had three at Tennessee State March 18.
- Elmore has collected three hits in a game four times this season.
- Fenichel was hit for the 17th time this season.
The Lady Bisons will be back in A-Sun action April 25 and 26 when Kennesaw State visits Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium for the final home series of the season.
Saturday’s doubleheader will start a 4 p.m. It will also be “Senior Day”. The third game Sunday will start at 2.