NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman’s lineup card had the batting order ready to go. But the last spot, the pitcher, remained open until the very last minute.
Megan Gray and Mandy Jordan were working in the bullpen. Ryman and coach Megan Rhodes Smith evaluated both for the starting role. Jordan had made one start and one appearance in relief over the weekend. Gray had not pitched since shutting out Austin Peay 1-0 last week.
In the end Gray was the choice and it proved to be the correct one. Gray, 6-2, threw a complete game three-hitter, losing her shutout attempt in the seventh. Gray walked three and struck out four, including the last batter, as Lipscomb beat Kennesaw State 7-1 Sunday afternoon at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium,
“Megan pitching so well is so big for us,” Ryman said. “Megan is coming on strong again.
“We have finally found out the keys for her in how to balance rest in keeping her fresh and ready to go and also getting her work in. Truthfully, she wasn’t even feeling great. We thought she had a good warm-up and decided to go for it.”
The win gave Lipscomb the sweep in the ASUN series. Lipscomb is 35-13-1, 13-4 in the ASUN. Kennesaw State falls to 26-27, 11-11 in the conference.
“This was a huge sweep,” Ryman said. “It is tough to get a sweep in this league.
“We did it on the road at Jacksonville and we swept Stetson in a sense, even though we lost a game to weather. It speaks volumes for where this team is right now”
Offensively the Lady Bisons connected for 12 hits. Sarah Higgins blasted a three-run homer to left field in the third. Khayla Green added a double down the left field line which scored two more in a five-run inning. All the runs were scored with two outs.
“We are playing well,” Ryman said. “We got contributions from a lot of different people up and down the lineup.
“We have talked about finishing strong. They have really taken that on. We did a tremendous job all weekend.”
Graysen Gladden recorded three hits. Higgins and Green each had two.
Hailey Andrews, 18-18, took the loss for Kennesaw State. She pitched three innings and gave up six hits and five runs. She walked three and struck out two. Peyton Elzey threw the final three innings giving up two runs on six hits. She walked one, hit one batter and struck out one.
“Andrews has been their best pitcher all year,” Ryman said. “I am proud of the offense all weekend finding a way to get to her.
“We were very disciplined at the plate. We went up hacking. We were getting some timely big hits this weekend. We found a way to get things done.”
Hannah DeVault doubled in the first inning, her 20th of the season. The Lady Bisons tied the NCAA school record high Saturday at 83, set in 2010. With the two doubles Sunday they have 85.
“We had 83 in 63 games compared to 49 games so far this season,’ Ryman said. “It is impressive.
“It says a lot about what our power hitters have done. But you can take the power hitters out of it and you have Peyton Ward, Destinee Brewer and Khayla Green hitting doubles. I am excited to see us have a breakout year with this.”
- It was the seventh win in a row for Lipscomb. The Lady Bisons have won 14 of their last 15 games.
- The Lady Bisons have not lost a Sunday conference game.
- DeVault and Jordan Fortel are each hitting .342, tying them for the team lead.
- This was the third time this season Higgins has driven in three runs. She has multiple-RBI in seven games, third best on the team.
- Higgins has home runs in her last two games.
- Gladden moved from No. 2 to the lead-off spot for only the ninth time this season.
- Gladden is tied with Fortel with 12 multi-hit games.
- DeVault has reached base in 18 games in a row, the highest current mark and the second highest for the season.
The final regular season ASUN series will be played at FGCU. Due to graduation schedules a doubleheader will be played Thursday night in Fort Myers at 4 and 6 CDT. The series, and regular season finale for both teams, is Friday at noon.