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Softball sweeps Jacksonville, takes over first-place
Haley Elliott
Haley Elliott

Friday, April 08, 2011

The Lady Bisons swept the Atlantic Sun first-place Jacksonville Dolphins with a pair of 4-0 wins in conference double-header action at Draper Diamond Friday. With the win, Lipscomb takes sole possession of first place in the A-Sun.

The Lady Bisons improve its league record to 7-1 while Jacksonville, who came in undefeated at 8-0, dropped to 8-2.

The Lady Bisons (20-14, 7-1 A-Sun)got a pair of home runs and a dominant pitching performance  from their ace, Whitney Kiihnl, to earn a 4-0 victory over Jacksonville (28-14, 8-2 A-Sun) in game one.

Lipscomb followed up game one with another dominant outing on the mound, led by sophomore Ali Watson and received two more clutch home runs to take the nightcap, 4-0.

The sweep over Jacksonville was pivotal as it ended a recent three-game skid for the Lady Bisons.

“It was good for us to go out there and pick up a couple of quality wins over a great team like Jacksonville,” head coach Kirstin Ryman said. “We knew they came with a 10-game winning streak and undefeated in the conference so we knew we had to come out with a lot of poise. We came up with some big home runs and our pitching gave us a great chance to win.”

Game One: Lipscomb 4, Jacksonville 0

In the first game of the twinbill, both pitchers had their way through the first three innings. Whitney Kiihnl struck out eight and surrendered just two hits in the first three innings while Jacksonville starting pitcher, Sarah Sigrest, struck out six through the first three frames.

In the fourth inning, Jacksonville loaded the bases with one out but was unable to score, as Kiihnl got Bittany Eppley to pop out and then retired Miranda Fleming on strikes to get out of the jam.

Lipscomb got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth when Mollie Mitchell connected on her team-leading seventh homerun of the season. Mitchell’s homerun , a two-run shot, drove in Bridgette Begle who reached on an infield single. before the Bisons a 2-0 lead with a home run deep to left. The two RBI for Mitchell increased her total to 33 on the season, tops for the team.

With a 2-0 lead, Kiihnl continued her dominance on the mound. She allowed one hit over the next two innings and got JU’s Katie Kelly to line into a double play in the sixth to end the inning.

“Whitney returned to form tonight for us,” Ryman said. “She was at the top of her game tonight and was her dominant self. She stayed poise even in tough situations and really gave our team a big lift.”

The Lady Bisons extended their lead in the bottom of the sixth on Caroline Mason’s two-run home run to left-field. Breanna Thurman drew a leadoff walk and then score on Mason’s sixth homer of the season.

“We feel we have a solid lineup that is capable of hitting home runs at key situations in the game,” Ryman said. “We only had three hits in the first game but two swings proved to be difference since each team was facing a dominant pitcher.”

With the comfort of a four-run lead, Kiihnl (15-7) faced four batters in the final inning to earn her 15th victory on the season. The Batesville, Miss., native scattered six hits to go with 11 strikeouts in the complete game victory.  

Game Two: Lipscomb 4, Jacksonville 0

Similar to the first game, pitching controlled the first four innings of game two. The Lady Bisons starter Ali Watson struck out three Dolphins hitters and only gave up one hit through the first four innings. JU’s Olivia Kline was also dominant surrendering one hit and walking two through the first four frames.

Watson’s dominance continued in the fifth as she was able to work out of a jam to keep the game scoreless.

“Ali was huge for us tonight,” Ryman said. “She gave us five tremendous innings and gave us a great chance to get the win.”

The Lady Bisons scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the fifth, when Kristen Sturdivant led-off the inning with a solo shot to left, her third home run of the year.

With a 1-0 lead, Kiihnl relieved Watson in the top of the sixth. Watson allowed just two hits and struck out four in five scoreless innings.

The Lady Bisons added three runs in the bottom of the sixth when Haley Elliott sent a three-run home run over the left-field wall. The home run, Elliott’s fifth of the season, scored both Mollie Mitchell and Courtney Billington, who both singled earlier in the inning.

Kiihnl closed the door in the seventh as she retired the side in order to complete the sweep.

The Lady Bisons look to continue their winning ways tomorrow as they take on North Florida at Draper Diamond. Game one of Saturday’s double-header will start at 1 p.m.

Saturday’s double-header can be seen on A-Sun Television.  The game will also be available for free at Lipscombsports.com with David Adams providing the call.


Written by David Adams