FORT MYERS, Fla. – One pitch. One single. One run.
It was enough for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons who won 1-0 over North Alabama in a game that stretched out over portions of two days in the ASUN Tournament at the FGCU Softball Complex.
Lipscomb has won 11 in a row and 18 of the last 19 games.
After waiting all night Lipscomb’s Sarah Higgins responded to the early wakeup call Friday morning. Having been at the plate with a 3-2 count, two outs and Hannah DeVault on second in the bottom of the 12th inning Higgins spent the rest of Thursday night visualizing what she was going to do.
What she did was slam a walk-off single off Megan Garst, the ASUN Pitcher of the Year, to left center to bring home DeVault.
“It was the longest wait I have had between pitches,” Higgins said. “I was definitely thinking I needed to hit a strike. I kept visualizing strikes coming by and me hitting them.
“I tried to see myself doing good things. I can’t say that I wasn’t nervous. I slept, but it took me a little while to go to sleep.”
Higgins, like the rest of the players on both teams, vocally expressed the desire to keep playing after the delay for a lightning strike was called Thursday. It was the second weather delay in the game. Rain would come later and wash away any chance of resuming before Friday.
“I was like come on, please let us play,” Higgins said. “I wanted them to let me have one more pitch.
“Everything works out for a reason. This was probably for the best. I am excited to see what we do next.”
Mandy Jordan, 17-7, won the game allowing six hits and four walks and striking out nine.
She was ready to go back to the mound if the game had entered the 13th inning. She didn’t hold back on what she felt about the heroics from Higgins.
“I was overwhelmed, but very relieved…absolutely,” Jordan said. “All night long we said all Sarah needed was one pitch. We let the tension build before she did it.
“It was long, hot and tiring Thursday, but I was ready to go back in this morning. I was ready to go as long as they needed me to go.”
Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman was confident of what Higgins could do. She has seen the senior produce in the clutch numerous times over her career.
“I believe in all of our hitters,” Ryman said. “I knew Thursday at any moment somebody was going to come through but we couldn’t quite connect.
“I don’t know if I have coached a more clutch hitter than Sarah Higgins. I want to go back and count how many walk-offs she has had during her career. She seems to rise to the occasion in those moments and finds a way. I can’t think there was anybody more fitting to have at the plate.”
Ryman praised both Jordan and Garst for “incredible “pitching performances.
Garst scattered seven hits, walked eight, hit one batter and struck out six.
“It was such a weird scenario,” Ryman said. “It is incredible to think about we went to bed thinking about how we were going to score in this inning and end it. And they went to bed thinking how do we make one pitch to get out of the inning.
“It was tough for both sides. But I liked the scenario we were in. And I am happy Sarah was the one at the plate.”
- The game set a tournament record in terms of playing time at 4 hours and 20 minutes. It was the third longest game in terms of innings.
- This is the 14th ASUN Tournament for Lipscomb which has played in a record 13 straight tournaments.
- The No. 1 seeds have been 28-11 overall in the tournament.
- Higgins two hits give her 11 multiple-hit games this season, third best on the team. Her other hit was a double giving her 13.
- Peyton Ward stole her 30th base of the season. Destinee Brewer stole her 14th.
- Amy Vetula and Graysen Gladden both have eight-game hitting streaks.
- DeVault walked twice extending her streak to 22 games reaching base safely.
- Jordan Fortel hit her 10th double.
The Lady Bisons are back in action today at 1 p.m. CDT time to face Liberty, the No. 2 seed, in a winner’s bracket game. The two teams last met in the ASUN series opener for Lipscomb on the road at Liberty. The Lady Bisons lost the first two games but won the final game of the series.