TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – There was nothing subtle about how this game was played
Friday afternoon at Rhoads Stadium at the University of Alabama, Lipscomb lost 4-3 to Arizona State from the Pac-12 in the first game of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional.
The teams combined for five home runs and two doubles in a slugfest that resembled a boxing match with the blows being exchanged with softball bats instead of gloves.
“We did everything we wanted to do as far as keeping the game close,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “We said it coming in that they are one of the top offenses in the country and have been all year long.
“It was the theme of the game. We hit a home run. They come back with a couple. It was a back-and-forth battle. We were toe-to-toe with them the whole way. They got one bigger hit than we did.”
Lipscomb’s Jenna Pealor broke a three-innings of scoreless play for both teams with a two-run blast over the right center field fence with two outs in the top of the fourth. Abby Davis, who was pinch running for Sarah Higgins also scored. Higgins doubled to left center.
Arizona State came back in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI-single which scored Kindra Hackbarth who had reached base on a double.
After a scoreless fifth for Lipscomb, the Sun Devils would score two runs in the bottom of the frame on back-to-back solo home runs by Yannira Acuna to center field and Kiara Kennedy to left for a 3-2 lead.
The Lady Bisons would tie the game in the top of the sixth on a solo shot over the right field fence by Jordan Fortel with two outs.
Again, Arizona State answered in the bottom of the six with a lead-off solo homer by Jade Gortarez to center field with what proved to be the game winner.
Mandy Jordan, 18-8, went the distance for Lipscomb. She gave up seven hits, struck out three and walked two.
“The way the game started, and for Mandy to do what she did, to hold their offense down for that long was just a tremendous effort from her. She gave us everything she had.
“Our defense came up with big plays behind her as well. It is tough to hold a team like Arizona State down.”
Cielo Meza started for Arizona State and threw 5.2 innings. She scattered four hits, allowed three runs, walked two and struck out six.
Samantha Mejia, 15-9, pitched 1.1 scoreless innings for the win. She did not give up a hit or a walk and struck out one.
Lipscomb is 41-14-1 overall. Arizona State is 34-18.
Lipscomb’s has been in this scenario before. In the 2014 Knoxville Regional the Lady Bisons lost their first game 4-3 to Virginia Tech. They beat Charleston Southern 4-3 and Virginia Tech 12-3 to come out of the loser’s bracket and face Tennessee in the regional final, a 2-0 loss.
“We don’t need to dwell on the Arizona State game,” Ryman said. “We need to refocus, turn the page quickly and move forward. We have to come back and bring our best.
“It hurts a little bit more because this team is so invested in this. We came in thinking we could win the game, but we came up a little short.”
- The loss ended a 13-game winning streak for the Lady Bisons.
- This was the first meeting between Lipscomb and Arizona State in softball.
- Pealor moves into second place on the team with nine multiple-RBI games.
- Pealor has seven home runs. Fortel has hit six.
- Higgins is second on the team with 15 doubles.
The Lady Bisons will face Alabama State, an 8-2 loser to Alabama, Saturday in the double elimination tournament. Game time is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Alabama State won the automatic bid from the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). The Lady Hornets are 24-24.