SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The dress rehearsals and previews are over.
All those nonconference games are important, and there are still a few to be played, but Saturday and Sunday the Lipscomb Lady Bisons open the ASUN Conference portion of the season.
It gets really real starting at noon Saturday for a doubleheader at Cyrill Stadium in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Sunday a single game is scheduled for noon. All three games will be available live on ESPN3.
“We are starting right off the bat with the team that is picked to win the conference,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “They are always up there and contending for the title. That is obviously our goal too.
“This is a business trip for us. This team is young, but it has maturity. They like to be challenged.”
The Lady Bisons, 23-7, head into the weekend with a seven-game winning streak and the second best overall record in the conference. Upstate leads the conference with a 25-6 record and has won its last two games.
“There are no shortcuts to winning our league,” Ryman said. “You have to go out and compete every weekend. There hasn’t been any emphasis on one team more than another this season. I am really proud of where we are.
“For the most part we just go out and do what we do. We try to be the best version of us we can be every day. We want to challenge ourselves in every game and every at bat regardless of who is on the other side. It is neat seeing them go out and have fun and just compete every day.”
Series record: Lipscomb leads the series 16-15.
RPI: Lipscomb is 47th in the first NCAA RPI ranking of the season. Upstate is 78th.
Pitching duel: The series will feature two of the top pitching staffs in the conference and three of the top pitchers.
Lipscomb’s Mandy Jordan, 15-3, leads the conference in strikeouts with 154 and is second in innings pitched with 116.1. Her strikeout total is sixth nationally in NCAA Division I.
Upstate pitchers Holly McKinnon and Lexi Shubert have the best combined earned run average in the conference with a 1.23. Lipscomb’s staff is second at 2.25.
McKinnon leads the conference with a 1.02 ERA. Jordan is close behind at 1.08. Shubert is third at 1.43.
Jordan and McKinnon are both averaging more than nine strikeouts per seven innings, the only two in the ASUN who have reached that feat.
McKinnon leads the conference with a .140 opposing batting average. Shubert is second at .161. Jordan is third at .190.
Jordan also leads in batters struck out looking with 42. McKinnon is fourth with 26 and Shubert is fifth with 22.
Jordan leads in wins with 15 followed by McKinnon in second with 13 and Shubert in a tie for third with 11.
McCarley Thomas is the other starter for Lipscomb. She is fifth in the ASUN with a .220 opposing batting average, fifth in strikeouts with 73, sixth in batters struck out looking with 21 and 10th with a 2.72 ERA.
Going with the Plo: Caitlin Plocheck is second on the team in batting with a .353 average and is second in runs batted in with 18. She is second in hits with 36.
She is tied for third in doubles with nine and is also tied for third in the ASUN in home runs with six. Plocheck is fourth in total bases with 63 and is seventh with a .618 slugging percentage and is tied for 10th in hits with 36.
Gibson is “Miss Consistency”: Kasey Gibson leads the Lady Bisons with a .358 batting average. She is first in hits with 38 and first in RBI with 19.
Gibson is tied for seventh in the ASUN in hits. She is tied for fourth in triples with three.
.300 club: In addition to Gibson and Plocheck there are two other Lipscomb hitters batting over .300. Destinee Brewer is hitting .321. Abby White, who has played 13 games, is batting .346.
Hannah DeVault is knocking on the clubhouse door with a .298 average.