NASHVILLE, Tenn. – What a difference three wins can make.
The Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball team entered the three-game series with Kennesaw State Saturday needing to win one game to become the fifth team to qualify for the six-team Atlantic Sun Tournament.
They accomplished the goal with a 1-0 win in game one Saturday night. But they followed with a 13-1 victory in the nightcap. Sunday afternoon the Lady Bisons completed a three-game series sweep of Kennesaw State with a 4-1 win at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium.
The Lady Bisons have won their last four A-Sun games and are within one win of being the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
“This was huge for us,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “To get a sweep this late in the season against a team as good as Kennesaw State is great. They are No. 2 for a reason.
“I just think we played very well this weekend. There is a lot of momentum right now with this team and what better time to have it.”
Ryman thought it was a fitting conclusion to “Senior” Day as the Lady Bisons said a formal farewell to Jordan Abell, Gracey Aguirre, Laura Dukes, Paige Neely and Brianne Welch. Abell is sidelined for the rest of the season recovering from a surgery.
“We have talked about what the seniors have done to really spark this team and it continued today,” Ryman said. “Paige, Gracey and Laura all had RBI hits and Welch hit the ball on the nose twice. It was a tremendous job by that group.”
The Lady Bisons scored their first run in the third inning. With one out Brittany Elmore slammed a triple to right center. She scored on a single by Neely.
In the fourth Dukes opened the inning with a home run to right center.
The Purple and Gold added two more in the fifth. With two outs Neely walked and advanced to third on a single by Mimi Cartwright. Neely ran home on a single to center field by Aguirre. Dukes singled to left center to drive in Cartwright.
Kennesaw State scored its lone run in the fifth. Kara Chambers, who opened the inning with a double to right center, eventually scored on a throwing error to first by Dukes.
The Lady Bisons connected for seven hits with four against starter Logan Viers who dropped to 8-5. She walked one and struck out one in four innings, allowing two runs. Paige Mathews pitched the final two innings and scattered three hits. She also gave up two runs. She struck out two and walked one.
Kelly Young, 14-13, won her second game of the series. She went the distance allowing three hits and four walks. She struck out 10 batters for the second time in the series.
“Kelly came out and got out of a first inning jam and really settled down after that,” Ryman said. “There was a phenomenal catch by Britt (Elmore in center) for a double play (in the third). That was a big momentum shift in the game. It kind of burst Kennesaw State’s bubble.
“Kelly got 10 strikeouts again. That is a sign that I know we are getting better on offense and defense and in every way. We faced the same (starting) pitcher we faced Saturday and we were better today. Kelly faced the same hitters she faced Saturday and she was equally as good if not better. And that is tough to do."
The Lady Bisons are 26-23 overall, 11-6 in the A-Sun.
Kennesaw State closed out the regular season and dropped to third place. The Owls are 31-17, 12-8 in the conference.
- Aguirre has two hits each in three of her last four games and finished the Kennesaw State series with six RBI.
- Elmore, with 39 steals, did not successfully steal a base in the three-games with the Owls. It is only the second time this season she has gone three games without a theft.
- In her nine games since returning to the team after missing 22 games with an injury Dukes is batting .429 with six hits, seven RBI, five runs and two home runs.
- Young has been in double figures in strikeouts in eight games. She has recorded 10 strikeouts five times.
- Elmore extended her hitting streak to 17 games, the longest of the season for the team. Neely has a seven-game string and Aguirre has connected for hits in her last six games.
Elmore has reached base in her last 28 games. Neely has a 15-game streak. Aguirre extended her string to eight games.
- The Lady Bisons finished the home portion of the season with a 17-7 record.
The Lady Bisons close out the regular season when they travel to Fort Myers to play Florida Gulf Coast. A doubleheader is scheduled for Thursday at 4 p.m. CT with a single game Friday at noon.