JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Numbers don’t always tell the whole story.
That is one of the messages that Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball coach Kristin Ryman wants to make sure her players understand as they face ETSU in a three-game Atlantic Sun series this weekend. ETSU is 10-21 overall. The Buccaneers are 0-11 in the conference and have lost their last 15 A-Sun games dating back to 2012.
The Lady Bisons, 17-18, 6-6 in the conference, swept ETSU in a doubleheader last season winning 9-0 and 9-2. LU has a 10-6 advantage overall in the series.
But Ryman wants her team to realize that ETSU is known for comebacks in games. The Buccaneers won two games Tuesday at home against Tennessee Tech, one with a late rally.
“We have to come out with a lot of energy,” Ryman said. “ETSU is a team that has struggled at times, but they are hitting the ball well. ETSU can hang with you throughout the game. It is a very scrappy group. They are not going to quit.
“We have to make sure we are finishing games and playing a full seven. It is going to be extremely important this weekend for us to stay sharp and stay focused for an entire seven innings at a time.”
Katie Wolff, 4-11, 2.63 earned run average; and Samantha Harrell, 5-8, 3.77 ERA; handle the bulk of the pitching for ETSU.
Five ETSU players are batting above .300 – Nicole Fox (.353), Jackie Baird (.333), Wolff (.324), Casey Horner (.313) and Tara Hartnett (.307).
“We have to continue to find ways to score runs,” Ryman said, “If we score a couple we can’t just settle for that. We have to make sure we keep forcing the issue the entire game.”
Brittany Elmore continues to lead the Lady Bisons in hitting with a .331 average. She also has set a school season record for steals with 22, which leads the A-Sun.
“Brittany has had a really good season for us so far,” Ryman said. “When she is feeling good and putting the ball in play consistently she gets on a roll. When she gets on base she makes us go.
“We don’t want her to lose confidence in herself just because of one at bat. We have told Brittany is in the top spot in the lineup for a reason. She has a really good freshman year so far. She is a big weapon for us.”
Two other players who have elevated their games offensively have been Kristen Sturdivant, the team leader with eight home runs and a .616 slugging percentage; and Gracey Aguirre with a team-high nine doubles.
Sturdivant is batting .291 and Aguirre is hitting .276. In A-Sun games only Sturdivant is the conference leaders in hitting with a .517 average and a 1.000 slugging percentage.
“I am excited and proud of what Kristen and Gracey have done lately,” Ryman said. “When those two are seeing the ball, hitting the ball well and driving it in the gaps like they have been lately that is a big boost.”
Game time for Saturday’s doubleheader at Betty Basler Field is noon. Sunday’s game is also scheduled for noon.
“It is going to be real important for us to have a strong first day,” Ryman said. “That will set the tone for the second day. We have to go in and do our thing and click on all cylinders again.
“We will have to be on our game to walk away with any wins. We have seen a lot of fight in this team. We have to continue that this weekend."