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Lady Bisons split twinbill with Belmont
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Lady Bisons split twinbill with Belmont
The Lady Bisons wrapped up the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season on Saturday, splitting a double-header against Belmont in front of a season-high crowd at Draper Diamond. Lipscomb defeated Belmont 6-0 in game one before falling 1-0 in the nightcap.

The Lady Bisons (28-18 overall, 15-5 A-Sun) had won six consecutive conference games before being edged in the nightcap.

“It’s frustrating to end the conference season with a loss in a game where we had chances to win,” head coach Kristin Ryman said. “We didn’t come up with a timely hit when we had runners in scoring position in the second game and you have to give their pitcher credit.”

“We needed to take care of business this weekend but we couldn’t build off the late rally and momentum that we got from game one and transfer that to the second game,” Ryman said.

“We struggled to get key hits early in the first game and then we had a lot of players step-up and put some quality at-bats together late in the game to earn the win,” Ryman said.

“Whitney gave us two great performances tonight and once again she gave us a great chance to win.”

“You have to give credit to their pitcher (Devon Schmidt) she gave them a great chance to win tonight and we didn’t take advantage of opportunities at the plate in the second game,” Ryman said.

Game One: Lipscomb 6, Belmont 0

A six-run sixth inning broke open a scoreless game as Lipscomb defeated Belmont 6-0 in the first-game of Saturday night’s double-header.

The Lady Bisons outhit the Bruins 11-2 in the first game and staff-ace Whitney Kiihnl once again carved up the Belmont line-up, tossing seven shutout innings to give Lipscomb’s its fifth straight shutout victory.

The shutout in game one ran Lipscomb’s streak to 63 innings without allowing a single run at Draper Diamond.

Kiihnl allowed two singles while fanning 11 batters to go along with one walk. It marked the 18th time this year that Kiihnl has posted double-digit strikeouts in a game.

Game one was a pitcher’s duel as both Kiihnl and Schmidt tossed five scoreless innings to start the game.

With the game tied at zero, Lipscomb exploded for six runs on seven hits while sending 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the sixth.

Courtney Billington led off the top of the sixth by legging out a single to shortstop and then advanced to second on a well-executed sacrifice bunt by Lacy Walker. Following a fly-out by Kristen Sturdivant, Kiihnl laced one over the left-fielder’s head for an RBI-triple, giving Lipscomb a 1-0 lead. It was Kiihnl’s first triple of the season.

Following Kiihnl’s triple, Bre Thurman drove in Kiihnl with double off the center-field wall, giving Lipscomb a 2-0 lead. Mackenzie Tucker then singled and advanced to second on Mollie Mitchell’s walk to load the bases for Caroline Mason. Mason made the Bruins pay as she launched her team-leading ninth home run of the season, a two-out grand-slam to put the Bisons in front 6-0.

Kiihnl struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth before facing four-batters in a scoreless seventh to earn her 18th win of the year.

Billington paced the Lady Bisons in game one, finishing 3-for-4 with a run scored. Mason went 2-for-3 with a grand slam while Haley Elliott and Kiihnl each had two hits apiece.

Game Two: Belmont 1, Lipscomb 0

Belmont scored one run on two hits in the top of the first inning of the nightcap and from there on the pitching dominated as Belmont edged Lipscomb 1-0 in game two.

The Lady Bisons outhit the Bruins 4-3 in the night cap but went just 1-for-11 (.091) with runners in scoring position while stranding six runners on base.

Kristen Sturdivant had three of Lipscomb’s four hits in the nightcap, going a perfect 3-for-3 with a double.

Lipscomb’s best opportunity of the night came in the bottom of the sixth when Mollie Mitchell drew a two-out walk before Caroline Mason singled to right field. Mitchell went first to third on Mason’s two-out single but Lipscomb stranded runners on third and first as Belmont’s Schmidt got Haley Elliott to ground out to second to end the threat.

Ali Watson (7-4) got the start in game two, allowing one run on three hits in four and a third innings before being replaced by Kiihnl after registering one out in the top of the fifth.

Kiihnl struck out five and walked one in two and two thirds innings of no-hit relief.

The loss in game two Saturday, snapped a nine-game winning streak against the Bruins and was the first setback to the cross-town rivals since April 26, 2006 when Belmont defeated Lipscomb, 6-1.

The Lady Bisons are guaranteed at least the No. 2 seed at the 2011 Atlantic Sun Softball Tournament, which will be held in Spartanburg, S.C., May 11-14.

Lipscomb still has a chance to earn the top seed in the conference tournament but needs a little help from North Florida and Stetson as they have upcoming games against first-place Jacksonville.

Jacksonville (36-14, 14-2 A-Sun) would need to lose three of their four remaining games for the Lady Bisons to clinch the top-seed. The Dolphins have double-headers remaining with North Florida and Stetson.

Other Notes:
In between games, the Lipscomb softball program honored its lone senior, MacKenzie Tucker, who played its final two conference games at Draper Diamond on Saturday. Tucker was accompanied by her parents who made the trip to the Music City from Washington state.