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3/23/2012 | San Luis Obispo, CA | Attendance: 100
Cal Poly (7-14)
3/23/2012 | San Luis Obispo, CA | Attendance: 100
Friday, March 23, 2012
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Defeating two quality opponents in one day is nice. Doing so in California is just a bonus.
So it went for Lipscomb softball at Friday’s opening day of competition at the Mustang Classic. Lipscomb defeated UNLV 2-1 in the opener, then knocked off host Cal Poly by the same score in the second game.
The win over UNLV was significant for head coach Kristin Ryman; it was the 200th of her career.
“It’s been a fun journey for me,” Ryman said. “We’ve had a lot of good players in recent years and they’re more responsible for this achievement than I am; they’re the ones grinding it out every day.”
The opening game of the day was a pitcher’s duel, which happens often whenever Lipscomb senior hurler Whitney Kiihnl takes the mound. The Batesville, Miss. native picked up her season’s 14th victory, a complete-game three-hitter in which she allowed no earned runs and struck out four.
“Whitney was great against UNLV,” Ryman said. “She limited her walks and that was a big point of emphasis for us.
“She didn’t have as many strike outs as usual today, but she hit her spots and forced UNLV to hit good pitches. She trusted the defense behind her and they came through.”
Neither side managed a hit until UNLV’s Tayler Aleman singled to right center with one out in the fourth inning. She would advance to second, but failed to come across to score.
In the home half of the fourth, Lipscomb junior Kelsey Cartwright got the Lady Bison in the hit and run columns on the scoreboard. She led off the fourth with a solo home run to left field, her season’s eighth, to give the Lady Bison a 1-0 lead.
It looked like Lipscomb would quickly build on that lead, with seniors Mollie Mitchell and Caroline Mason roping back-to-back singles following Cartwright’s home run. They, along with sophomore Bridgette Begle, would be left on base to end the fourth inning.
Lipscomb would strike again in the fifth. Sophomore Rena’ Cothron rapped a one-out single up the middle, then advanced to second on a Mitchell single. Mason would bring Cothron around to score with a single through the left side.
UNLV would get one back in the top of the sixth. Paige Emerson reached via error and advanced to second. An Aleman double to right-center brought Emerson around to score.
The seventh inning was a cliffhanger for Lipscomb. Rebel Korin Cuico was hit by a pitch and bunted over to second. Stefany Valentino doubled to left center and Heather Harrison walked, loading the bases with only one away. Fortunately, Kiihnl got Elena Fata to pop out to third and Emerson flew out to center to end the threat and the game.
Cartwright supplied the power with her home run, while Mitchell and Mason collected two hits apiece.
Kiihnl continues to pitch effectively for Lipscomb; she’s only allowed more than two earned runs in a start once since March 4.
Game Two – Lipscomb 2, Cal Poly 1
Redshirt freshman Ashley Anderson took the mound for game two. She had been electric on the mound of late, allowing no earned runs since March 4 entering play today.
Cal Poly would get the best early scoring chance in the bottom of the second. A Celina Lafrades walk and Nicole Lund double put runners on second and third with one out, but Anderson got Mariah Cochiolo on a strike out and induced a fly ball out from Whitley Gerhart to get out of the jam.
Lipscomb would threaten in the fourth, when Mason and sophomore Haley Elliott combined for back-to-back one-out singles. The duo were stranded in scoring position to end the threat.
The first run of the game wouldn’t be scored until the sixth, when Elliott hit a solo home run to left field, her season’s fourth.
The Mustangs answered in the home half of the sixth, bringing Kim Westlund around to score after she hit a lead-off single; she advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and moved to third on an error. Back-to-back walks to Lund Cochiolo brought the tying run in.
Lipscomb scored the winner in the seventh, thanks in no small part to junior Bree Thurman. She singled to start the inning, advanced to second on a Cothron sacrifice and scored after Mitchell singled up the middle to plate the game-winner.
Anderson went five and two-thirds, ultimately getting the no-decision. She scattered four hits and struck out one, allowing no earned runs and one unearned. She has not allowed an earned run in 28 innings pitched.
“Ashley hit a spot late where she was tiring and they were adjusting to her,” Ryman said. “We felt like it was a good spot to bring in Whitney, and she got it done.”
Kiihnl came on for the relief win, going an inning and a third and striking out two for her 15th win.
Elliott was the offensive catalyst in game two, going 2-for-2 with her solo home run. She was also hit by a pitch.
Ryman had high praise for her defense after the game.
“All day we were outstanding on defense,” Ryman said. “The infield played really well and picked up the pitchers today.”
The Mustang Classic continues tomorrow, with rematches against Cal Poly (5 p.m. CT) and UNLV (7:30 p.m. CT).