NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The softball version of the “Battle of the Boulevard” is the next challenge for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons.
A single game is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday at E.S. Rose Park. Lipscomb is 33-13 overall with a three-game winning streak. Belmont, from the Ohio Valley Conference, is 30-16. Belmont split a doubleheader at Austin Peay Monday and reached 30 wins for the first time since 1996.
The Lady Bisons moved up one spot this week to 37th in the RPI. Belmont is 101.
The rise in the RPI ranking is another indication of how this team, which enjoys being labeled an underdog, has defied preseason predictions.
“There were so many unknowns,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “And that is not a negative or knock on this team.
“We can win in a lot of different ways. It is fine we are still an underdog.”
Mandy Jordan and McCarley Thomas have become a strong duo in the circle. Jordan leads the way with a 21-7 record and a 1.19 earned run average.
“I think our pitching staff has done a really good job,” Ryman said. “We knew what Mandy Jordan was capable of. In some ways she has even exceeded what we were expecting.”
Thomas is 11-6 with a 2.51 ERA. She has put together a career season as a senior.
“McCarley Thomas has made a world of difference on our team by not having us rely on one arm,” Ryman said. “She has done a really great job and made a world of difference for us.
“I have sung her praises all year. She is a really cool story. Years from now I am still going to be telling people how McCarley got better each season she was here.”
Chloe Yeager, has spent most of her time as a designated hitter, but she has been effective in the circle as well throwing 10.2 shutout innings with one win and one save.
“Chloe doesn’t have a ton of innings, but what she has done has been huge for us,” Ryman said. “It won’t shock me if we see her several more times down the stretch.”
Three players, led by Caitlin Plocheck at .363, are batting higher than .300. Eight players, also led by Plocheck with 29, are in double figures in RBI. Destinee Brewer is one RBI away with nine.
“Offensively, we came into the year saying we needed some players to turn the corner and several of them have. We needed our freshmen to be able to step in and contribute right away and they have.
“A lot of times the numbers on paper have been up and down. But statistically it doesn’t matter if our batting average is .250 if we are finding a way to win. That is what matters.”
NCAA leaders: Jordan is 10th in the NCAA in wins, 12th in strikeouts (218), 15th in earned run average, 26th in shutouts (six) and 38th in strikeouts per seven innings (8.1).
Plocheck is 14th in doubles (15), 33rd in total bases (99) and 38th in doubles per game (.33).
As a team the Lady Bisons are 25th in fielding percentage (.973), 27th in ERA (1.99) and 30th in won-loss percentage (.717).
ASUN stats: Overall in the ASUN Jordan is second in ERA, third in opposing batting average (.192), first in innings pitched (188), first in strikeouts, first in batters struck out looking (53), first in wins, first in games started (27) and tied for second in appearances (30).
Thomas is fifth in opposing batting average (.225), eighth in earned run average (2.44), sixth in strikeouts (109), sixth in strikeouts looking (28), eighth in wins and tied for seventh in games started (18).
Plocheck is first in total bases, second in home runs (nine), second in doubles (15), third in hits (57), fourth in slugging percentage (.631), tied for eighth in runs batted in (29) and ninth in batting average (.363).