CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The search for consistency at the plate continues for the Lipscomb softball team.
“We are really trying to focus on just hitting strikes,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “That sounds so simple. This is a game where pitchers are trying to do everything they can to get ahead of a batter and they are going to try to make you chase pitches.
“The more passive we are in our bats, the more behind we are going to get. There is a difference in being patient in a game where the pitcher is struggling to find the zone versus a pitcher who is attacking the zone and consistently getting ahead.”
In the first day of the Frost Classic the Lady Bisons opened with a 4-0 loss to No. 18-ranked Kentucky. They did not manage a hit, though what appeared to be a first inning hit by Kasey Gibson was changed as an error. Gibson would get on base on a walk to lead off the fourth. She was the only base runner for the Lady Bisons who were shutout and no-hit for the first time this season. Gibson also managed to steal two bases.
Right-hander Tanner Sanders, 2-3, pitched a solid game. She allowed five hits, but two were for home runs. She struck out seven, walked two and hit two.
A statistic that was as chilly as the wind that blew across Warner Park Friday was that 14 Lipscomb batters struck out against Kentucky.
After a quick lunch the Lady Bisons headed to the batting cages where they worked until it was almost time to play Northern Kentucky. The extra work may have made a difference. The Lady Bisons were not kind to their former Atlantic Sun foe with six hits, three for extra bases, on the way to a 10-1 victory called after the top of the fifth due to run rule.
“I feel like we came out in game two and did what we needed to do and what we should do,” Ryman said.
Sarah Higgins drove in three runs when she blasted a home run over the left field fence in the fourth inning.
Abby Fenichel pounded a double in the first inning to left center scoring Brittany Elmore who reached base on a lead-off walk. She would add another RBI in the fourth with a single to right center.
“That is why we like the center of our lineup so much with Abby, Caitlin Plocheck, Sarah, Riley Brown and Baylee Williams,” Ryman said. “There is so much power in that group, but they have to swing at quality pitches.”
Gibson and Fenichel each had two hits against Northern Kentucky to lead the Lady Bisons.
Gibson reached base four times in the two games.
Kelly Young, 2-2, pitched four scoreless innings, but lost her shutout bid in the fifth. She gave up four hits, walked one and struck out eight.
“We faced two extremes,” Ryman said. “We told the players to take the good and bad from today and think about, learn lessons from it and move past it. I want them to take the good and gain confidence from that, but we have to forget that as well and come out with another good game plan.”
- The Lady Bisons are 1-2 all-time against Kentucky and 10-0 all-time against Northern Kentucky.
- The last three games for the Lady Bisons have been against teams from the Bluegrass State. They played Eastern Kentucky last week in the Total Control Sports Invitational.
- Fenichel is becoming a force behind the plate with her arm. She caught two Kentucky base runners stealing. Against Northern Kentucky she caught one runner stealing and then picked off a runner at second for the final out of the game.
- The three RBI by Higgins are a season and career high.
- Dee Baddley and Malorie Giere both made their first appearances at the plate this season in the seventh inning against Kentucky. They both grounded out.
Giere also played first base for the first time this season in the fifth inning against Northern Kentucky.
Next up: The Frost Classic continues Saturday with Lipscomb facing Evansville at 10 a.m. and Eastern Illinois at 3 p.m.
They close out the tournament Sunday at 12:30 p.m. against Miami (Ohio).
“It is going to be important for us to come back out and really attack,” Ryman said. “We have to do the things we have been working on and not fall back into a pattern offensively like we saw in the Kentucky game.”