KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – For two-and-a-half games the Lipscomb Bisons played like a team that can compete with the cream of the NCAA softball crop.
“We played the way we want to play for two-and-half games minus seeing a little bit more production on the offensive side,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “We played the way we were capable of playing for two-and-a-half games.
“The biggest struggle for this team all year long has been playing at a high level consistently. That is a big struggle for any team over 56 games to be able to play at a certain level all season long. I think the challenge for this team has not been getting on a roller coaster ride all year long.”
But in the fourth inning Sunday afternoon in Lipscomb’s second game of the Tennessee Invitational an eight-run explosion turned a close game into a 10-2 loss for the Lady Bisons against host Tennessee at Lee Stadium. Due to the run-rule the game was called in the sixth inning.
Earlier in the day the Lady Bisons lost 2-0 to No. 9-ranked Oklahoma. Tennessee entered the weekend rated No. 12/13. Saturday night Lipscomb beat Radford 1-0 in nine innings.
Lipscomb struck first in the fourth inning when Caitlin Plocheck slammed a two-run homer over the left field fence.
Tennessee answered with one run in the bottom of the inning.
In the fifth Tennessee struck twice with the long ball. Megan Geer hit a three-run homer to dead center over the 220 marker. Gretchen Aucoin added a grand slam over the left center field fence. The Vols added one more run for eight in the inning.
In the sixth Geer reached base on a single and scored on a double to right field to end the game.
Lipscomb used three pitchers. Kelly Young, 12-9, took the loss. In 4.1 innings she scattered nine hits and gave up six runs, all earned. She struck out seven and did not walk a batter.
Tanner Sanders came on in relief and pitched one-third of an inning, facing five batters. She gave up three hits and three runs, all earned. She struck out one and walked one.
McCarley Thomas also pitched one-third of an inning. She faced three batters and allowed two hits and one run which was earned. She struck out the first batter she faced.
Matt Moss started for Tennessee and gave up three hits and two runs. She struck out four and did not walk a batter. Erin Gabriel, 17-5, closed out the game. She did not allow a hit or a walk. She struck out two in two shutout innings.
“For two-and-a-half games I love what we did,” Ryman said. “If we can take that back into conference play into the rest of the season there is no doubt in my mind we can make the conference tournament and win the conference tournament.
“But what we can’t do is settle for anything less than the effort we had in those two-and-a-half games. I thought our pitchers dominated at times this weekend against some really good hitting teams. Offensively, we struggled to get things going, but defensively we did a really good job for two-and-a-half games. The biggest takeaway is to be able to continue to play like we did for two-and-a-half games.”
Lipscomb is 24-24. Tennessee is 35-12.
- The Lady Bisons have played five teams ranked in the top 25 this season and are winless in those games.
- Lipscomb is 0-11 against Tennessee after the loss. This is the second defeat for the Lady Bisons against Tennessee this season.
- Plocheck hit her seventh home run of the season which adds to her career high.
- Plocheck has 31 RBI, the first time she has reached the 30-plus level.
- This was Plocheck’s ninth multiple-RBI game, tying her for first on the team.
Next up: Lipscomb returns home Tuesday to face cross-town rival Tennessee State in a single game starting at 6 p.m. at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium.
This has been designated “Think Pink” night. The team will wear pink jerseys and fans will receive T-shirts.
The Lady Bisons have an off-weekend, before playing UAB Tuesday, May 3, in a single game at home. This is a make-up game and is the final home game of the season.