Offense clicking takes pressure off of softball team
Saturday, February 20, 2016
By Mark McGee
Offense clicking takes pressure off of softball team

ROSEMONT, Ill. – It was about as good as it gets.

Saturday the Lipscomb softball team combined hitting, pitching and flawless defense to win a pair of games with a 5-1 victory over IUPUI and a 7-0 shutout of Iowa.

“It was good to see our team turn the corner a little bit offensively,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “We know we are talented. When our hitters go out and do what they can do it takes pressure off of our pitchers to try to be perfect.”

The Lady Bisons close out the Total Control Sports Invitational Sunday morning at 9 against Eastern Kentucky at The Dome at Rosemont.

The Lady Bisons, 4-4, have four straight wins after opening the season with four consecutive losses.

“It is taking us some time to grow together and learn together,” Ryman said. “It is taking time for our players to learn what their roles are on this team.”

Against IUPUI Abby Fenichel blasted a two-run home run in the first inning. The Lady Bisons added two more runs in the third, one on a sacrifice fly by Fenichel. In the seventh Fenichel struck again with a solo homer.

“I loved the way we started out attacking early against IUPUI,” Ryman said. “We scored early and then we scored in the seventh. That was a good all-around game to start with.”

In the Iowa game the Lady Bisons scored one run in the third. In the fifth Caitlin Plocheck blasted the first grand slam of the season for Lipscomb over the left field fence. They added one more run as Fenichel followed Plocheck’s blast with a triple and then scored on a ground out.

Plocheck also added a double against Iowa.

“It is what we see out of Plocheck every day in practice,” Ryman said. “She has a ton of power. So far this weekend she is really starting to click.”

Lipscomb added one more run in the sixth on a single by Kasey Gibson.

“The middle part of the order is so crucial for us this year,” Ryman said. “Plo, Abby and Sarah Higgins are all three having really quality at bats.”

The Lady Bisons had 19 hits in the two games with nine of those going for extra bases. Plocheck combined for a home run and two doubles. Fenichel finished with two home runs and a triple. Higgins added a double and a triple. Riley Brown also connected for a double.

“I think we have that potential, but I don’t want us to be a team that has to rely on the big hit,” Ryman said. “I want us to be a team that gets a leadoff hitter on, bunts them over or gets a steal and then a single.

“We have exploded offensively the way we knew that we could. Now we need to see that confidence carry over and continue to attack strikes. That is what we have put a focus on. Even when we don’t get a hit we want to have quality at bats.”

Mandy Jordan, making her second start of the season, evened her record at 1-1 with the win against IUPUI.

“It was important for us to get Mandy back out there and put her in a position to rebound from last weekend,” Ryman said. “I thought from the get-go she controlled what was going on. We didn’t give up a run until the sixth inning and then shut them down from there.

“It was good to see her pitch the way we know she can. I think she is going to get more confidence. You learn from every outing and every experience. We are really proud of what she did against IUPUI.”

Tanner Sanders, 2-1, earned the first shutout of the year for the Lady Bisons. She gave up eight hits, all singles, and the defense did its job behind her. She walked one and struck out one.

“Tanner did the job of settling in and continuing to attack the strike zone and let the defense make the plays,” Ryman said. “Tanner has traditionally done well against Iowa.”