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Lady Bisons waiting to see how this softball cliffhanger ends
Thursday, May 9, 2019
By Mark McGee
Lady Bisons waiting to see how this softball cliffhanger ends

FORT MYERS, Fla. – When we last watched Lipscomb and North Alabama play softball Thursday the game was tied 0-0 in the bottom of the 12th with two outs. Hannah DeVault was on second base and Sarah Higgins was facing a 3-2 count from Megan Garst.

That was before a lightning strike was detected for the second time in the game and before a torrential rain covered the area putting everything on hold for the rest of the night.

This softball soap opera resumes Friday at 7 a.m. CDT at the FGCU Softball Complex. Higgins will still be at the plate and DeVault will be back on second.

But it is uncertain if Garst, who has thrown 187 pitches, will be back in the circle. It is also not known if Lipscomb starter Mandy Jordan, with a pitch count of 137, will return. Both pitchers have scattered six hits.

Lipscomb is the No.1 seed. North Alabama is the No. 4 seed.

Playing such a split game is not easy for either side, much less for two teams locked in a scoreless duel.

“It is a challenge, but at this point we have to be able to meet anything that comes our way,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “Both teams will be dealing with the same challenge, so we have got to keep trying to find a way.

“The ASUN’s concern is there is more weather coming in Friday afternoon, so they are trying to get the two loser’s bracket games in before then.”

The weather reports can be iffy. More “ifs” also start to figure into the equation.

If Lipscomb doesn’t score in the 12th and the game continues will Jordan be ready to go? And if Lipscomb loses, and must turn around and play a loser’s bracket game, who gets the start in the circle?

Megan Gray, Katie Turner, Chloe Yeager and Chloe Rogers are in the bullpen, a situation associate coach Megan Rhodes Smith describes as “an embarrassment of riches”. With the potential schedule shifts that could still loom ahead it could be time for the Lady Bisons to cash in.

“Different pitchers have come through for us at different times whether in or out of conference,” Smith said. “Depth is huge, and it allows us to frequently go with the `hot hand’, whoever that happens to be at the time, while also not over-using any one pitcher.”

Each of the pitchers is aware someone is ready if they struggle. Pitchers want the ball and are reluctant to give it up. It becomes both a mental and physical test for them.

“Knowing there is always someone else capable of taking your place is a tough mental challenge to overcome,” Smith said. “But I believe it’s also spurred several of our pitchers towards even greater growth.”

Smith thinks the depth has also pushed the staff to accept the challenge of doing whatever the team needs from them at any given moment – “three outs, three innings or a whole game”.

“In regard to the tournament, none of our pitchers gives an opposing team the same exact look, so we have multiple ways to attach the teams we face,” Smith said. “Mandy has been our ace for the last three years, but it has been incredible to watch our entire staff grow as a unit and support each other, no matter who is on the mound any given day.

“This group whole-heartedly has accepted the challenge and responsibility of being the tone setters for the defense. I’m incredibly proud of the way each of them has responded when challenged. I believe we are a stronger group because of it.”