March 29, 20161234567RHE
Win: R. Gaffin (5-2) 4.010005
Loss: SANDERS (8-9) 2.223023
B. Vines (UT) 422100
ELMORE (LIP) 302000
Lipscomb set to host Tennessee in softball
Monday, March 28, 2016
By Mark McGee
Lipscomb set to host Tennessee in softball

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -  It has been more than 10 years since the University of Tennessee softball team has played Lipscomb on its home field.

Lipscomb’s players and coaches have circled the game on the calendar for a number of reasons since the 2016 schedule was announced. The game, scheduled to start Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium, is already a sellout.

“This is exciting for us,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “It will be a great challenge for us.

“But it will also be a neat atmosphere for our players and our fans. It will be an opportunity for our fans and for fans from Middle Tennessee to see what the upper level of softball looks like.”

The game will be on ESPN3. Live stats will also be available.

“They haven’t played on this field,” Ryman said. “The last time they played us it was on the old field.  I was a senior on the softball team.”

Tennessee, 25-8, is ranked 17th nationally. The Vols have won their last four games, including a sweep of Southeastern Conference foe Mississippi State.

Lipscomb, 18-15, is coming off a 2-1 series win over Atlantic Sun foe Jacksonville. The Lady Bisons lost 4-0 Saturday to close out the weekend.

“This is a great opportunity for us, not only to play an SEC school, but an in-state SEC school,” Ryman said. “We are excited to have them on our campus. We believe we will be able to compete with them.”

Scouting Tennessee: Nine players are hitting .300 or higher. Megan Geer leads with a .383 average. Lexi Overstreet leads in home runs with seven and runs batted in with 36.

In the circle Matty Moss is 7-2 with a 1.64 ERA. Erin Gabriel is 13-3 with a 2.38 ERA. Rainey Gaffin is 4-2 with a 1.82 ERA.

Tennessee is 9-0 overall against Lipscomb. The Vols have won 85 games in a row against in-state opponents.

The two teams have not met since May 18, 2014 when Tennessee used a two-run homer to beat Lipscomb 2-0 in the finals of the NCAA Knoxville Regional.

This is not the only time the two teams will meet this season. Lipscomb will be participating in the Tennessee Invitational in Knoxville April 23-24.

Comparison time: Tennessee beat Belmont 16-0 March 8. The Vols played Jacksonville last week and won a 10-0, five-inning perfect game.

This is the second game for Lipscomb against a nationally-ranked team from the SEC. Lipscomb lost 4-0 to No. 17 Kentucky Feb. 26.

RPI: Lipscomb climbed from 90th to 84th in this week’s NCAA Division I RPI.

USC Upstate is rated 53rd.

Two other Atlantic Sun teams are in the top 100. Kennesaw State is 86th and Jacksonville is 96th.

Tennessee is rated 19th.

National rankings: Lipscomb’s team earned run average of 2.46 is 36th nationally.

Kelly Young is 17th nationally in strikeouts per seven innings with 9.4. She is 22nd in strikeouts with 118.

Tanner Sanders is 58th with a 1.76 ERA.

Kasey Gibson is 26th in sacrifice bunts with .27 per game.

A-Sun rankings: The Lady Bisons lead the conference in earned run average.

Sanders is third with a .214 opposing batting average. She is also third in innings pitched with 111.2 and third in strikeouts with 98. Sanders is fourth in the conference in ERA.

Sanders and Young are tied for first with 33 batters struck out looking.

Young is second with a .208 opposing batting average. She is second in strikeouts.

Sarah Higgins is second in the conference in hitting with a .384 average. She is also second in slugging percentage (.717) and is tied for second in total bases with 71.

Higgins is tied for third in home runs with eight. She is fourth with a .445 on base percentage.

Gibson leads with nine sac bunts.

Abby Fenichel has been hit nine times, tying her for second.

Next up: The Lady Bisons make a quick turnaround and are back in action Wednesday at 5 p.m. for a single game at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville.