FORT MYERS, Fla.- Disneyworld is almost 160 miles away, but the “happiest place on earth” for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons was the Florida Gulf Coast Softball Complex.
Friday afternoon the Lady Bisons enjoyed a magical experience as they swept the three-game series with the Eagles with a 1-0 win in 10 innings.
The victory gave Lipscomb the ASUN regular season championship and the top seed in the conference tournament.
“We knew what was at stake and we knew it was going to be hard,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “But we didn’t run away from that. We embraced it. This series was a total team effort.
“It was so fun to see these girls fight for this opportunity. They are extremely excited. The emotions are pouring out for our seniors who have worked so hard for something like this. They are champions now.”
This is the third regular season title for Ryman who also directed first place teams in 2008 and 2010.
“We have had good pitching and good defense and timely hitting,” Ryman said. “In this game we didn’t have the timely hitting, but our pitching and defense kept us in it.”
It was fitting senior pitcher Mandy Jordan 16-7, captured the win. It was her second shutout of the series, having won 2-0 in the first game of a doubleheader Thursday night. She also picked up the save in the nightcap, a 4-2 win.
“It is hot down here,” Ryman said. “Mandy had to gut through it. She is our bulldog for a reason, and she showed us that in this game.
“She did everything in her power to help us win this game. She kept finding a way to get pop ups and ground balls. They had a hard time all weekend against her. I am so proud of her.”
Jordan allowed four hits, did not walk a batter and struck out four.
“Mandy gave us everything that she had,” Ryman said. “She was phenomenal all day.”
The Lady Bisons stranded 10 runners. In the 10th due to the tie-breaker rule Graysen Gladden was placed on second base. Peyton Ward executed a sac bunt to third base to move Gladden to third. Hannah DeVault brought Gladden home with a sac fly to center field.
“The timeliness of Peyton getting that bunt down was huge,” Ryman said. “There is never one moment that is going to win or lose game for you, but we executed in that situation.”
Marrisa Mesiemore, 10-7, took the loss. She scattered eight hits, walked two, hit one batter and struck out three.
It was the 10th win in a row for the Lady Bisons who have won 17 of their last 18. Lipscomb is 38-13-1 and finished 16-4 in the ASUN. Florida Gulf Coast is 28-20 and 13-7 in the conference.
The approach used by the Lady Bisons in the win has become their signature this season.
“As a team we fought and we fought and we fought,” Ryman said. “To go on the road and get a sweep against a top three team in our conference – a team that pitches extremely well and is very athletic – is just so uncommon.
“Our team doesn’t quit. There is always something magical that can happen. When you carry those positive vibes around you are going to have a mental edge over your opponent. We are going to fight until the end for each other.”
- Jordan, Jenna Pealor, Jordan Fortel, Sarah Higgins and Destinee Brewer are flying to Nashville for graduation Saturday and then returning to Fort Myers for the tournament. Khayla Green and Graysen Gladden will graduate in the fall. Chloe Rogers is in graduate school.
- It was the fourth shutout for Jordan.
- Amy Vetula, DeVault and Gladden each have seven-game hitting streaks.
- The RBI by DeVault was her 50th of the season.
- Ward stole a base, her 29th.
- Gladden was the only player in the game with two hits. She has 13 multi-hit games, tops on the team.
The ASUN Tournament begins Wednesday at FGCU. The Lady Bisons have a first-round bye and will not play until Thursday against an opponent to still be determined.