NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Lipscomb softball coach Kristin Ryman liked the result, but she wasn’t that thrilled with the start.
The Lady Bisons came back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat Georgia Southern 5-3 in the first day of the Purple and Gold Challenge at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium Friday afternoon.
Lipscomb won its fifth straight game to raise its season record to 10-2. Georgia Southern fell to 10-5. It was the home season opener for Lipscomb.
“I think we had a slow start,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “I don’t know if I liked our approach. I don’t know if it was being at home for the first time and trying to figure out our bearings again or because it was the second game of the tournament and we didn’t get to warm-up on the field.
“There were a lot of things that threw us out of our comfort zone. I don’t think we handled those things very well. We have had a great start and teams are going to come out gunning for us. Winning can be a not so good thing when you get too comfortable with it.”
Saturday the Lady Bisons play back-to-back games starting with ETSU at 12:30 followed by a rematch with Georgia Southern at 3. Georgia Southern and Indiana State start off the day at 10 a.m. Indiana State and ETSU will play at 5:30 in the final game of the day.
Ryman expects her players to come out with a different attitude Saturday.
“We need to make sure we are coming out every game and getting after it,” Ryman said. “We have to come out here and really want to take it to somebody.”
Abby Fenichel got things started for Lipscomb with a solo home run over the left field fence with one out in the bottom of the first. It would be the last run for the Lady Bisons until they added another in the fourth and rallied for three more in the fifth.
“Abby hit the home run, but we didn’t seem comfortable in the box,” Ryman said. “Midway through the game we were telling the players we have to change something. If they weren’t comfortable in the box, and they were taking a lot of pitches, they needed to go up there and hit the first good pitch. They needed to change something.”
Caitlin Plocheck singled to left center to bring home Hannah DeVault who opened the fourth inning with a single to the shortstop.
With one out and bases loaded in the fifth, Jordan Fortel slammed a double to left field that rolled to the wall and cleared the bases.
“Jordan had been frustrated at the plate,” Ryman said. “She just got mad. She can’t control the strike zone. She just stepped in there and kept competing. That was such a huge turning point.”
Lipscomb’s Mandy Jordan, 6-0, threw six shutout innings, allowing all three of Georgia Southern’s runs in the third. She finished with 10 strikeouts and walked only one batter while giving up four hits. None of the runs were earned.
Despite numbers that would be impressive for almost any pitcher Ryman knows it wasn’t Jordan’s best effort.
“Mandy wasn’t her best which is crazy to say in a game where she gives up only four hits and strikes out 10,” Ryman said. “She wasn’t sharp with some of her pitches. She had to fight through that. She had to really work extra hard and use her defense to get out of innings.”
Kierra Camp, 6-3, took the loss for Georgia Southern. She scattered nine hits, walked three and struck out three. All five runs were earned.
“It was good to see our offense respond in a game where our pitching wasn’t as dominant,” Ryman said. “It was good to see that rebound the second part of the game. We looked more comfortable and started really getting the bat on the ball.
“We didn’t falter. We didn’t crumble. It showed the resilience of our team.”
- Prior to the start of the game Ryman was surprised when she was honored for winning her 400th game. Athletic director Philip Hutcheson presented her with a specially engraved purple and gold bat commemorating the win. She also received a doughnut cake and flowers.
- It was the first home run of the season for Fenichel and the first double of the season for Fortel.
- Fortel entered the game with two RBI and has five for the season.
- Fenichel is the fourth Lipscomb player to hit a home run this season.
- Plocheck stole her first base of the season.
- Caitlin Turner and Fenichel each connected for two hits to lead the Lady Bisons.
- Peyton Ward stole her sixth base, tying with Turner for the team lead.
- Indiana State, 8-4, beat ETSU, 4-8, in the opener 4-3.
UP NEXT: The Lady Bisons will be back tomorrow with a doubleheader starting at 12:30 p.m. against ETSU and followed by a 3 p.m. showdown with Georgia Southern.