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March 19, 20161234567RHE
USC Upstate0120000360
Win: MCKINNON (14-1) 7.072217
Loss: SANDERS (7-7) 7.063338
CASE (UPST) 412000
HIGGINS (LIP) 312201
March 19, 20161234567RHE
USC Upstate0000300321
Win: YOUNG (6-4) 7.0233510
Loss: SHUBERT (3-2) 1.113132
CASE (UPST) 201010
GIBSON (LIP) 313200
Lipscomb earns split in A-Sun softball opener
Saturday, March 19, 2016
Lipscomb earns split in A-Sun softball opener

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Every team has a goal of sweeping a doubleheader, but in the grand scheme of things Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman had no problems with a split.

Saturday afternoon at chilly Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium the Lady Bisons lost the first game with USC Upstate 3-2 and then came back to win game two 6-3. It was the Atlantic Sun season opener for both teams, pitting Lipscomb, the preseason to win the conference, against Upstate, the No. 2 selection.

The series closes out Sunday at 1. Lipscomb is 15-13, 1-1 in the conference. Upstate is 24-4, 1-1 in the A-Sun.

“It was not a bad split all,” Ryman said. “Obviously, they are a great program. They have been off to a good start this year even with a lot of new players.

“We knew this weekend was going to be a dogfight. Our goal was to come out and attack.”

In game two Lipscomb took advantage of three walks and an error in the second inning. Kasey Gibson, who had singled to third base, scored on a throwing error by Upstate’s third baseman. Gibson’s single brought home Caitlin Plocheck who had opened the inning with a walk. Dee Baddley, who also had walked, also scored on the error that allowed Gibson to score.

Gibson was the game leader with three hits. She also drove in two runs.

“Kasey did a nice job of giving us a spark at the bottom of the order,” Ryman said. “I thought she did a tremendous job in game two of settling back in and attacking good pitches.”

Baylee Williams singled to right field with bases loaded to score two more runs as the Lady Bisons took a 5-0 lead.

“We didn’t have any kind of a letdown in game two,” Ryman said. “We came out and attacked right off of the bat.

“Baylee has been hot lately. She, Sarah Higgins and Abby Fenichel have really done a lot lately in the three-through-five spots. They have boosted us. I thought all three of them had some nice at bats.”

In the fifth Upstate answered with three runs. The first two batters reached base on walks. Kori Wancheck tripled to bring home both runners and then scored on a bad infield throw.

Lipscomb added one more in the fifth. Gibson singled to third base with bases loaded to score Plocheck who had doubled off the left center field wall to start the inning.

Kelly Young threw a complete game and improved to 6-4 on the season. She struck out 10, walked five and allowed only two hits.

“Kelly is really starting to settle back in,” Ryman said. “The thing I loved the most was after we give up the three-run inning on the hit down the right field line as the ball goes to the wall. Kelly didn’t let that rattle her. That showed a lot of growth and maturity about where she is right now. I am impressed with what she did.”

Lexi Shubert started for Upstate, but lasted only 1.1 innings. She slipped to 3-2 with the loss as she gave up one hit and three runs, all earned. She walked three and struck out two.

Amanda Storch pitched the rest of the way. She scattered seven hits and gave up three runs, one earned. She also struck out three and walked two.

Game One

The Lady Bisons started strong, but could not close out the win in game one.

“I thought game one was back-and-forth battle,” Ryman said. “When you look at strikeout numbers and hit numbers for both teams they are almost identical.

“It was a very evenly matched game. We just came up a little bit short.”

Sarah Higgins opened with a two-run home run over the right field fence for Lipscomb in the bottom of the first inning at. It was her eighth home run of the year. But that was the only inning Lipscomb would score any runs as they eventually fell 3-2.

Upstate added a run in the top of the second on a bunt single. In the third the Spartans added two runs on a homer to center field by Ryan Rector.

Tanner Sanders, 7-7, went the distance for the Lady Bisons. She allowed six hits and all three runs were earned. She walked three and struck out eight.

“Tanner did a nice job in game one,” Ryman said. “Upstate is going to hit the ball. Overall I thought it was a well-played game on both sides.”

Holly McKinnon, 14-1, scattered seven hits. She walked one and struck out seven.

“We had balls that hit off of the wall,” Ryman said. “We had hard-hit balls that went right at someone.

“I thought we handled it well between games. We said, `that was fun, right?’ And the girls responded, `absolutely’. Nobody wants to lose, but I love we were fighting every inning. We made things happen, but it just didn’t bounce our way.”

Base hits

  • Higgins failed to get a hit in game two, ending her team-leading hit streak at 14 games.
  • This was the second time this season Gibson has connected for three hits in a game. It is her fifth multi-hit game and her first multiple-RBI game.
  • Williams had four multiple-RBI games and five multi-hit games.
  • Fenichel and Plocheck each had a double in game two.
  • Fenichel was hit by a pitch for the eighth time this season in game two.
  • Elmore stole her 15th base of the season in game one.