FORT MYERS, Fla. – Nerves can be frayed in a tournament game, especially one that is decided by only one run.
But the Lipscomb Lady Bisons, led by the example of pitcher Kelly Young, kept their composure on the way to a 1-0 win over No. 6-seeded Stetson Thursday morning at the FGCU Softball Complex.
“It feels good to find a way to win,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “You don’t have to blow teams out to win this tournament. It feels good to get a win and it feels better to know we stayed the course mentally and never lost our composure. That is what I am most proud of.”
The Lady Bisons, the No. 2 seed, move into the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Championship. The Lady Bisons, who have won their last eight games, will play top-seeded USC Upstate.Thursday afternoon Upstate beat No.4 seeded North Florida 13-1. The game Friday will start at 11:30 a.m. CT. It will be televised live on ESPN3.
“I really credit Kelly with keeping her composure,” Ryman said. “She really just kept finding ways to make the next pitch.
“I am proud of our pitching and defense for being able to find ways to hold a really small lead. That is not always the easiest thing to do against a quality team and it is not the easiest thing to do this time of the year. That is what good teams do.”
Freshman first baseman Caitlin Plocheck drove in the only run of the game. Her ground ball single through the left side of the field brought home Gracey Aguirre in the fourth inning. Aguirre had singled with two outs.
“We did just enough offensively,” Ryman said. “Plocheck got the big, timely hit.
“The thing we take away offensively is just to stay patient and to know when to attack pitches you want to attack. We don’t want to chase pitches we don’t want to hit. We don’t need to help a pitcher.”
Baylee Williams connected for the first hit of the game with a single to right in the third inning. She had a game-high two hits, both singles.
Also getting one of the five hits for the Lady Bisons was Brittany Elmore.
“We had a few innings where we had runners in scoring position,” Ryman said. “We weren’t quite getting the key base hits when we needed them.
“We hit a couple of balls right on the nose. Mimi Cartwright and Laura Dukes both hit hard line drives that we caught. We were getting quality at bats. We just weren’t finding holes when we needed them.”
Young, 17-13, went the distance for the Lady Bisons. She scattered three hits on the way to her seventh shutout of the season. She struck out eight and walked four.
Twice Young pitched her way out of jams. In the third she put two runners on base with a pair of walks. In the fifth Stetson opened with back-to-back singles and loaded the bases with a walk.
“Kelly didn’t have her best stuff,” Ryman said. “The thing that was probably the coolest was that she held them to three hits.
“It was a really gutsy performance for her. Even when she didn’t have her best stuff she continued to fight and make enough quality pitches to get some good Stetson hitters out in key situations.”
The Lady Bisons are 30-23, Stetson is 28-19.
- The Lady Bisons scored their first runs in the A-Sun Tournament since 2013. They were shut out 2-0 by Stetson and 3-0 by USC Upstate last year.
- The Lady Bisons have now won 30 or more games for the past seven seasons.
- The Lady Bisons evened their tournament all-time record with Stetson at 3-3.
- Aguirre extended her hitting streak to 10 games and reached base for the 12th straight game.
- It was the 13th multiple-hit game for Williams this season.
- Stetson pitcher Chelsea Hostetler, 18-9, did not strike out a Lady Bison in the game. She walked two.
- The weather has been perfect all week, but the heat and humidity levels increased Thursday and should continue through the rest of the tournament.
“Kelly gutted it through a hot morning,” Ryman said. “It was a little warmer this morning than we were expecting.”