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March 30, 20131234567RHE
Win: PARKER (6-8) 4.011125
Loss: Owen (6-4) 3.053314
Bembnowski (FGCU) 422402
Knapik (FGCU) 302100
Sturdivant powers Lady Bisons to weekend sweep
Saturday, March 30, 2013
By Mark McGee
Sturdivant powers Lady Bisons to weekend sweep

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Coach Kristin Ryman had been waiting all season to see the talented Lipscomb Lady Bisons team she thought she had in the fall.

She doesn’t have to wait any more.

The Lady Bisons held on for a 7-5 win over Florida Gulf Coast Saturday afternoon in Fort Myers, Fla., to complete the three-game sweep. It was the first Atlantic Sun sweep of the season for the Lady Bisons.

LU is 17-16 overall, 6-6 in the A-Sun. FGCU drops to 24-12, 5-3 in the conference.

“It’s huge,” Ryman said of the sweep. “From a confidence standpoint it is awesome. We did all the things we knew we were capable of doing. The timing was sweet.”

The Lady Bisons pounded out 14 hits, tagging FGCU starter Shelby Morgan for eight and reliever Jaclyn Owen for six. Owen took the loss, lowering her record to 6-4.

“Hitting-wise, from top to bottom, we put the ball in play all weekend long,” Ryman said. “We gave ourselves opportunities to score.

“When we do that we are going to be tough to beat. We got a little proof of that this weekend. The girls have a good feeling.”

Kristen Sturdivant led all hitters with three hits, including a pair of solo home runs. She also led the Lady Bisons with three runs batted in.

 Sturdivant’s eight home runs, a season career high, move her into 10th place on the school’s all-time list in the NCAA era. She also leads the Lady Bisons with six multiple-RBI games.

“Kristen’s two home runs were really big,” Ryman said. “She is hitting the ball well right now. Some if it for her is her confidence. She is feeling good with her swing.

“It is a lot of little things. We have worked and worked on those little things. She has stayed the course and some really good things are happening for her now.”

Gracey Aguirre and Haley Elliott each connected for doubles. Each one had two hits and one RBI. Aguirre’s nine doubles place her in a tie for ninth on the school’s all-time list for a season. Aguirre moved from No. 5 to the No. 4 spot in the batting order the past two games.

“We felt like after the first game against FGCU Friday that we needed to move Gracey up and take advantage of her seeing the ball really well,” Ryman said. “She does not strike out a lot.

“She is going to put the ball in play. She is great with two strikes. She battles counts. That is a little unusual to see in a power hitter. She can hit a lot of line drives and drive balls into the gaps.”

Also finishing with two hits for LU were Paige Neely, Bridgette Begle and Mickey Bell.

“Paige, Gracey, Haley, Mickey and Kristen can hit it well and go on a streak at any time,” Ryman said. “Gracey and Kristen were the biggest sparks, but we are getting contributions from all of them.”

Brittany Elmore, with one hit, extended her hitting streak to a team-high nine games. Aguirre has a six-game streak.

“The top of the order (Elmore and Begle) is doing a good job of getting on base,” Ryman said.

Tanner Sanders started for the Purple and Gold and pitched three innings. She gave up five hits and four runs, all earned. She struck out four and walked five.

Heather Parker took over for the final four innings and was credited with the win, raising her record to 6-8. She allowed one hit and one run. She struck out five and walked two.

“They both threw really well this weekend,” Ryman said. “They threw with a lot more confidence than we had seen recently from them.

“When we are hitting and playing good defense behind them that takes the pressure off of them. They each did what we needed them to do when they did throw.”

Kirsten Bembnowski slammed two home runs and drove in a game-high four runs for FGCU.

The Lady Bisons are back on the road Tuesday when they travel to UAB in Birmingham, Ala., for a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m.