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April 24, 20161234567RHE
Win: Chestnut (7-0) 7.0300012
Loss: SANDERS (9-13) 6.072231
ELMORE (LIP) 301000
GIERE (LIP) 201000
Hatfield (OU) 302100
April 24, 2016123456RHE
Win: E. Gabriel (17-5) 2.000002
Loss: YOUNG (12-9) 4.196607
BREWER (LIP) 311000
GREEN (LIP) 201000
M. Gregg (UT) 424100
Softball facing a weekend of challenges at Tennessee Invitational
Friday, April 22, 2016
By Mark McGee
Softball facing a weekend of challenges at Tennessee Invitational

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb softball team is taking a week off from Atlantic Sun games, but they definitely are not taking the week off.

Saturday and Sunday they will be at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium on the University of Tennessee campus playing in the Tennessee Invitational. Saturday night, the Lady Bisons, 23-22, will face Radford, 29-16, at 6 p.m.

Sunday they face a formidable doubleheader with No. 9 Oklahoma, 35-7, at 11 a.m. and No. 12 Tennessee, 34-11, at 1:30 p.m. All times are Central.

Oklahoma is 2-0 against Lipscomb all-time. Tennessee is 10-0 overall against the Lady Bisons.

“This is going to be an extremely challenging weekend,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “Part of the reason we scheduled this was to fill a hole in the schedule left when Northern Kentucky left the conference.”

Ryman reached out to the University of Tennessee looking for a Southeastern Conference team that might have a bye week. Tennessee coach Karen Weekly said the Vols had a bye week and was putting together a round-robin tournament.

Facing two teams in the top 25 nationally in the same day is an extreme test for any team.

“It is going to be a challenge late in the season, but I think it is a good mental test,” Ryman said. “It will certainly also be a physical test. We have to go out and compete.

“At the end of the day we want to see our girls go out and attack. We want to see them have fun. We talked to them to remember that these teams are very good softball players, but they are players who have played travel ball just like our players have and they put on their shoes and pants just like we do.”

Ryman views this as an important weekend in terms of getting ready for the Atlantic Sun Tournament. Kelly Young and Tanner Sanders have done most of the work in the circle this season. But McCarley Thomas is coming off a four-hit shutout in a 6-0 win over Murray State Tuesday night in her first career start. Freshman Mandy Jordan has also seen work this season as well.

“We will probably use all four pitchers,” Ryman said. “We need them to be ready for tournament time. If you have three or four pitchers in the mix it is huge in the tournament. It is important they all four get some experience down the stretch.”

Ryman has warned her players not to look past Radford Saturday night, but she knows Oklahoma and Tennessee are on the minds of her players.

“Sunday will like playing in a Super Regional against two different teams,” Ryman said. “Oklahoma is a national power that has won a World Series and gone to the World Series numerous times.

“We have talked about Tennessee having the same type of record, history and tradition. Oklahoma is a team we have seen more on television. We have to go out and take care of business.”

The Lady Bisons lost 7-1 to Tennessee earlier in the season in a home game at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium.

“We were right in that game,” Ryman said. “Tennessee extended the lead late. I thought our pitchers did a nice job. Our hitters struggled to get anything going consistently.

“We are the underdog. None of the three games are going to be easy. We aren’t expected to win so let’s go out and find a way to shock everybody.”

Scouting Radford: The Highlanders, from the Big South Conference, are a last-minute replacement for Louisiana-Monroe in the round robin.

Marissa Gagliano leads the team in batting with a .338 batting average and in steals with 23. Nia Chiles is hitting .312 and has 20 steals.

Abby Morrow is the leading pitcher with a 17-11 record and a 1.90 ERA.

“Radford likes to run,” Ryman said. “They have three players in double figures in stolen bases. Their team batting average is very similar to ours.”

Radford is 2-1 against Lipscomb all-time.

NCAA stats: Lipscomb is 54th as a team with a 2.78 earned run average. The Lady Bisons are 57th in stolen bases with 1.49 per game.

Kelly Young is 17th in strike outs per seven innings with 9.1. She is 24th in strike outs with 168.

Brittany Elmore is 34th in stolen bases with an average of .62 per game.

A-Sun rankings: Elmore leads the A-Sun with a .403 batting average and in hits with 62. Sarah Higgins is fifth at .367.

Elmore is third in stolen bases with 29 and fifth with a .444 on base percentage. Higgins is third with a .622 slugging percentage, fifth in total bases with 81 and tied for fifth in home runs with nine.

Abby Fenichel is tied for second in the conference in doubles with 12. Fenichel is tied for fourth having been hit by a pitch 11 times.

Young leads in opposing batting average (.207), strike outs and strike outs looking (44). She is fifth in innings pitched with 129.1.

Tanner Sanders is second in strike outs looking (40) and third in strike outs overall with 117. She is fourth in ERA (2.45), opposing batting average (.234) and innings pitched (134.1).

It’s getting very streaky:  Elmore has hits in a team season high 15 games. Her previous high this season is 11.

Caitlin Plocheck has hits in her last six games.

Multiplier effect: Four players are in double figures in multiple hit games.  Elmore leads the way with 16. Fenichel and Higgins are tied at 12.  Destinee Brewer has 11.

Fenichel and Higgins are tied for the lead in multiple-RBI games with nine each. Plocheck has eight.