NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Executing plays and getting timely hits are always important in a softball game.
But when your team is facing the No. 17 team in the nation the little things count even more.
Such was the case for the Lipscomb softball team Tuesday in a 7-1 loss to Tennessee at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium in front of a record crowd of 553 which included more than 200 standing beyond the outfield fence.
“What makes a difference against higher level teams is we can’t make little mistakes,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “We had a couple of actual errors, but we also had a couple of mental miscues.
“They are the little nit-picky things we stay on them about in practice. I don’t think we executed all those things defensively. Teams like Tennessee are going to exploit those mistakes very quickly. All of a sudden a 3-0 lead turns into a 6-0 lead in a hurry.”
In the third inning Tennessee struck for three runs capitalizing on an error, a single and a hit batter. After scoring the first run on a sacrifice fly to right field, Lexi Overstreet drove a ground ball double down the left field line to score two more.
Tennessee added three more runs in the fourth inning. With bases loaded Meghan Gregg doubled off the right center field wall to clear the bases.
Lipscomb scored its only run in the fourth inning. Abby Fenichel walked to open the inning and Sarah Higgins connected for a single. Fenichel scored on an error by the shortstop.
In the sixth Tennessee added one more run as Gregg picked up her fourth RBI of the game with sac fly to left field.
Tanner Sanders, 8-9, started for Lipscomb. She pitched 2.2 innings and gave up two hits and three runs, all unearned. She struck out three, walked two and hit two batters.
Kelly Young closed out the game with 4.1 innings. She allowed four hits and four runs, all earned. She struck out five and walked four.
Rainey Gaffin, 5-2, earned the win. She gave up one hit and struck out five. Erin Gabriel started for Tennessee and scattered three hits and allowed one run. She struck out four and walked one.
“Offensively, while we didn’t generate a lot of hits we did some good things at the plate,” Ryman said. “We didn’t get any big hits. They were all just singles.
“When you are not putting those singles together and taking advantage of things like walks it is difficult to get on the board and make something happen."
Lipscomb is 18-16 overall. Tennessee is 26-8.
“Tennessee does its homework extremely well,” Ryman said. “We knew they were going to study video of us. We knew they would have a good scouting report.
“It makes the way we started in the game even stronger. Offensively, we weren’t chasing pitches. We were working counts pretty well. Tanner was doing a good job pitching. They put a good number of runs up but keeping their offense to six hits was a good job by our pitchers.”
- The two teams are expected to play a home-and-home series where Lipscomb will visit Knoxville in 2017 and Tennessee would return to the Lipscomb campus in 2018.
Lipscomb is traveling to Knoxville for the Tennessee Invitational April 23-24. The Lady Bisons will face Louisiana-Monroe and Oklahoma on the 23rd and close out with Tennessee on Sunday, the 24th.
“We have a great facility,” Ryman said. “Tennessee enjoyed playing here. I think they will be back.”
- Elmore led Lipscomb with two hits. She has multiple hits in eight games this season. Her four-game hitting streak is the longest active one on the team.
- Lipscomb is 0-10 against Tennessee all-time.
- Caitlin Plocheck has hits in her last two games.
Next up: There is no rest for the Lady Bisons. Wednesday at 5 p.m. they will be in Cookeville for a single game with Tennessee Tech, 11-19.
Lipscomb leads the overall series 13-11.
“We have to execute the little things and come back out again with that attack mentality,” Ryman said. “If we go in lackadaisical and like we don’t want to be there Tennessee Tech is the type of team that is going to take it to us in a hurry.”
This weekend the Lady Bisons play their final home Atlantic Sun series of the season when Florida Gulf Coast visits. Saturday, April 2, will be “Senior Day”. A doubleheader begins at 1 Saturday with the closing game of the series Sunday at 1.