Sunday afternoon they won the Eagle Classic Championship in Statesboro, Ga., beating host Georgia Southern 4-0 on three home runs. The Lady Bisons were 5-0 in the tournament with four shutouts.
In the title game senior first baseman Kellie Sirus and senior second baseman Abby Keese each hit solo home runs. Sophomore designated player Vanessa Medina hit a two-run shot.
Keese finished the tournament with three home runs while Sirus and Medina each had two. Senior center fielder Lauren Dortwegt also had a home run.
In the five tournament games the Lady Bisons hit eight home runs and 12 doubles. In eight games they have nine home runs and 14 doubles.
“Realistically, we could be a power team,” Lady Bisons coach Kristin Ryman said. “I would say that one through eight in the order at any given time can hit it. Lauren swings away more as an option. She has some pop.
“Courtney Billington, Kellie, Abby, Christen Campbell, Mollie Mitchell, Vanessa and Caroline Mason are home run threats. It is kind of a neat thing because we have a line-up full of players who can do that, but the bottom line is we are still looking for consistency. We are not up there trying to hit home runs. We are trying to get quality at bats.”
Ryman is as impressed with the doubles total early as she is with the home runs.
“I really love to look at the stats for doubles,” Ryman said. “To me a lot of doubles are the result of aggressive base running. When the ball is hit the batter gets out of the box quickly and sprints to first.
“Some of it is hitting balls in the gaps. We can hit balls into the gaps every game and end up with quite a few doubles at the end of the year. Doubles immediately put a runner in scoring position.”
Sophomore pitcher Whitney Kiihnl pitched 20 innings in the tournament and did not allow a run. In the championship game, her third start and fourth win in the tournament, she had a perfect game until allowing two hits in the sixth inning.
For the tournament Kiihnl struck out 35, walked six and gave up six hits. Kiihnl, the Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year last season, may be even better this season.
“Some it is the competition we have faced so far, but Whitney has come out of the gate and done some very good things,” Ryman said. “We have added a couple of pitches with her.
“Her confidence on the mound is a lot better. She is more consistent. She is not the same pitcher she was last year. She has improved skill-wise. Her mindset is world’s better than it was this time last year.”
The Lady Bisons have already recorded five shutouts this season. They had three last season after eight games. They finished last season with 17 shutouts, a program high in the NCAA era.
The Lady Bisons are back on the road this weekend to play in the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn. They will play Oakland, Austin Peay, Kentucky, Kansas and Georgetown.
“We need to see where our hitters are a little bit more,” Ryman said. “We need to see some better pitching. I am looking forward to this weekend because I think it is going to be another good test to see where we are.
“We talked after this game about not being complacent with where we are. Every time out we have to stay hungry for wins. We have to stay hungry to improve.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations