Thursday, April 19, 2012
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After evening their Atlantic Sun record at Belmont last weekend, the Lipscomb softball team hits the road to Georgia this weekend for two all-important conference doubleheaders. Lipscomb faces conference-leading Kennesaw State Friday beginning at 3 p.m. before starting a noon match-up at Mercer, Saturday.
At first glance, senior Whitney Kiihnl’s 2-4 record since April 1 would indicate struggles; that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Batesville, Miss. native has a microscopic 0.90 ERA and 39 strike outs in 39 innings pitched over that time, and opponents are hitting just .148 against her.
The arrival of April has been good for three Lady Bisons at the plate. Senior Caroline Mason (.464), freshman Gracey Aguirre (.444) and sophomore Kristen Sturdivant (.400) are swinging the bats well since April Fools’ Day.
Last Time Against this Weekend’s Opponents
The Lady Bisons swept both very tough series last year, never winning a game by more than two runs but also not allowing a run to either squad. Kiihnl had two shutouts herself and combined for a third, while Courtney Billington hit .417 and drove in the game-winning run twice to pace the offense. Mason knocked in the other two game-winners. Against Mercer, Kiihnl threw a complete-game three-hitter in the opener while Ali Watson went nine full innings for the shutout in the second game.
Aguirre Earns First A-Sun Weekly Award With Big Performance
Aguirre picked up her first career A-Sun Player of the Week award after hitting .636 with four doubles, four runs scored and four RBI in four Lipscomb victories last week. She scored the game-winning run in the first game against Austin Peay and Belmont, and added the game-winning hit in the second game against the Lady Governors. Aguirre is the first position player to win a weekly award for Lipscomb thie season, and the first Lady Bison freshman to do so since Mollie Mitchell in 2009.
- Kennesaw State – The Owls are mashers; Kennesaw State has a conference-leading 38 home runs this season, led by Sharon Swanson’s conference-leading 13 big flies. As a team without a lot of speed (10 steals total this season), Kennesaw State is going to rely heavily on the long ball for offensive production.
- Mercer – Mercer has been very up and down this season. After losing seven of their first nine games, the Bears proceeded to win 21 of their next 27 before hitting another rough patch. At 1-7 in the last eight games, the Bears are clearly struggling heading into the weekend.
- Kennesaw State – The Owls are 12-2 against common Lipscomb opponents this season, with only two losses coming within the Atlantic Sun – Kennesaw State swept Stetson and North Florida and split with Florida Gulf Coast and Jacksonville. Out of the A-Sun, the Owls were undefeated against common opponents, defeating Austin Peay, Alabama State (twice), LIU-Brooklyn, Marshall and Samford. Lipscomb is 9-6 against those opponents.
- Mercer – The Bears are 6-7 against common opponents, but only 2-6 among A-Sun foes after getting swept by Stetson and Florida Gulf Coast last weekend. Mercer split earlier in the A-Sun schedule with Jacksonville and North Florida. In non-conference play, the Bears beat Samford and Alabama State two times each but lost to Austin Peay to open the season. Lipscomb is 7-5 against those opponents.
Lipscomb By the Numbers
Kiihnl is turning in her typical all-conference numbers this season, which have been reflected in the national rankings. She’s 22nd in the nation in wins (19) and shutouts (seven), while also ranking in the top-30 in ERA (27th, 1.42) and strikeouts (28th, 180). Sophomore Rena’ Cothron ranks third nationally in sacrifice hits at 0.45 per game, while Aguirre has become one of the toughest hitters in the nation to strike out, going down on strikes just three times in 80 at-bats (26th-best average in the nation). Kelsey Cartwright’s 0.28 home run per game mark is 46th nationally, while her .697 slugging percentage is 71st.
‘Battle’ Sweep Big for Lady Bisons
Back-to-back shutouts from Kiihnl and redshirt freshman Ashley Anderson gave Lipscomb a doubleheader sweep over archrival Belmont, Saturday. The Lady Bisons were propelled by Kiihnl’s one-hitter in the opener, and Aguirre scored the game-winning run via error after reaching with a clutch seventh-inning double. Anderson scattered five hits in the second game, with Aguirre and Sturdivant collecting three hits apiece. Sturdivant and senior Mollie Mitchell each hit a two-run home run.
There are no conference games next weekend for the Lady Bisons, who only have a non-conference doubleheader at Western Kentucky, Wednesday, beginning at 5 p.m.
Lipscomb Softball Online
Check back on Lipscombsports.com for more information on the Lady Bisons softball team, and be sure to like us on Facebook (Lipscomb Softball) and follow us on Twitter (@LU_Softball). For home games there will be a live chat, along with video and live stats. Select road events will have these options as well.