NASHVILLE, Tenn. – McCarley Thomas found out during a pregame focus session with pitching coach Megan Rhodes Smith that she would be getting her first career start.
“She told me before we started visualizing that I should visualize starting the game,” Thomas said. “I was surprised, and then I was just really excited for the opportunity.”
Thomas didn’t really have time to get nervous. And it turned out she didn’t need to be overly concerned.
She threw a complete game shutout as the Lady Bisons beat Murray State from the Ohio Valley Conference 6-0 Wednesday night at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium.
Thomas sat down Murray State in order in the top of the first. Her teammates spotted her four runs in the bottom of the inning.
“It was huge momentum shift very early,” Thomas said. “It did a lot for everyone’s confidence, mine included. It was great. I am ready to get back out there.”
Thomas, who pitched 7.2 innings all of last season, did not give up a hit until the fifth inning.
In seven innings she allowed only four hits, walked four and struck out two.
Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman admitted there were some concerns on her part in the back of her mind on how the first start might go.
“I loved the way McCarley started right off the bat,” Ryman said. “I thought defensively we did some good things behind her the whole game.
“When you give a kid their first start you wonder how they are going to handle it. She only had two strikeouts, but she was extremely effective.”
Thomas, a junior, dealt with an injury situation earlier in the season. In her time at Lipscomb she has developed a reputation as someone willing to work to get better.
“McCarley has worked so hard to get to this point,” Ryman said. “It has taken her awhile to get back to where she needed to be in order to compete.
“Late in the game, when started getting behind on batters a little bit, she settled back in. She hides any nerves she might have. It was a very even-keeled game for her.”
The complete game effort allowed Ryman to rest her other pitches. The shutout was icing on the cake.
“Shutouts are something we have struggled with all season,” Ryman said. “Murray State’s record is not super impressive, but statistically they are right there with us.”
After six hits produced four runs in the first, Lipscomb added another in the second and one more in the fifth.
Brittany Elmore connected for a game-high three hits. Caitlin Plocheck added two, including a lead-off double to left field to open the fifth inning. She scored on a triple down the right field line by Khayla Green.
Malorie Giere led the team in runs batted in with two on a first inning single to center field.
“Malorie’s single was huge,” Ryman said. “That helped us extend the lead that much more.
“I am glad we had a big first inning. That really set the tone.”
Murray State used three pitchers who gave up a combined 11 hits. All six runs were earned.
Lipscomb is 23-22 overall. Murray State slips to 18-24.
- Elmore extended her hitting streak to 15 games, the longest on the team this season.
- It was also Elmore’s 16th multi-hit game, a team high.
- Green’s triple was her first on the collegiate level.
- Elmore, Brewer and Green all stole bases. Elmore’s three stolen bases ties the season high set by her at North Florida April 9 and by Green vs. Louisville March 2. Elmore has 29 stolen bases for the season.
- Plocheck’s double was her 11th, one short of Abby Fenichel’s team-leading 12.
- Elmore, the leader overall in the Atlantic Sun, is batting .403.
- The Lady Bisons led off every inning with a base runner.
Next up: The Lady Bisons head to Knoxville this weekend for their third consecutive weekend on the road. They are playing in the Tennessee Invitational hosted by the University of Tennessee.
Lipscomb will play Radford Saturday night at 6:30.
Sunday they No. 9 Oklahoma at 11 a.m. followed by Tennessee at 1:30.