Bucs swept by Bisons in A-Sun opener
Bucs swept by Bisons in A-Sun opener
Saturday, March 26, 2011

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 25, 2011) - Lipscomb's Whitney Kihhnl tossed a one-hit shutout and three Bison players belted home runs as the reigning Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament champions cruised to a 9-0 five-inning win over ETSU in game one of the conference opener Friday evening from Betty Basler Field. In game two, Lipscomb capped off the sweep by scoring three runs in the second and added four more in the fourth to break away for a 9-2 victory.

The Bucs, who entered the day as the third best hitting team in the conference, weren't able to get anything going against the reigning Player and Pitcher of the Year - Kiihnl - in game one. Kiihnl recorded nine straight outs via the strike out to begin the game and finished with 11 total for the contest. Kihhnl tossed her sixth shutout of the year and the Lipscomb offense rewarded her with the nine runs. Meanwhile, in game two, the Bisons jumped out to an early 3-0 lead - and despite the Bucs narrowing the deficit to a run following the third inning - Lipscomb struck for four runs in the fourth and added solo runs in the fifth and sixth innings to come away with the seven-run victory.

With the pair of setbacks, the Bucs saw their record dip to 11-17, 0-2 in A-Sun play, while Lipscomb improved to 13-11, 2-0.

Game One Recap

Whitney Kiinhl tossed her sixth shutout of the year and Haley Elliott belted two home runs as Lipscomb cruised to a 9-0 five-inning in the opener Friday afternoon.

Kiihnl was dominate all day long as she improved her mark to 10-6, while senior right-hander Jessica Duncan (Ooltewah, Tenn.) suffered the loss (5-7) after allowing nine runs on eight hits. Duncan also issued six walks and struck out six Lipscomb hitters.

Lipscomb set the tone early by plating two runs on two hits in the top of the first inning and led 2-0 before the Bucs had a chance to pick up a bat. Just as the Bisons' offense made a statement by plating two early runs in the top half of the first, Kiihnl did the same in the circle.

Kiihnl needed little help from her defense early and often as the first nine outs came from the strikeout and 11 of the total 15 outs were via the punch out.

As Kiihnl was cruising in the circle, the Bisons offense continued to surge. In the second inning, Elliott led off the inning with a solo homer to left, but Duncan held Lipscomb in check as she left a pair of runners stranded by striking Mollie Mitchell out looking to end the inning. Once again the visitors from Nashville continued to score runs for the third consecutive inning, as Elliott's two-out single to right scored Caroline Mason, while Kiihnl helped her cause by belting a double over the drawn-in outfield to extend Lipscomb's lead to 5-0.

After Kiihnl struck out the first five hitters she faced, junior infielder Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) broke up the no-hit bid with a two-out single to right in the second, but Kiihnl came back and fanned Arielle Garner (Buchanan, Ga.) to end the inning.

Caroline Mason smashed Lipscomb's second round-tripper of the game in the fourth, giving the Bisons a seven-run advantage following the two-run bomb. Lipscomb wasn't done leaving the yard in the frame as Courtney Billington and Elliott mounted back-to-back solo homers to put the Bisons ahead, 9-0. 

Following the single to Campbell in the second, Kiihnl retired the last ten hitters she faced en route to giving Lipscomb the win in the conference opener.

Game Two Recap

Despite trailing by a run after the third inning, Lipscomb exploded for four fourth-inning runs, while JJ Nelson held ETSU's offense in check for the final four innings and the Bisons came away with the 9-2 victory in game two.

Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) went 2-for-3 and senior Katie Henderson (Jackson, Tenn.) recorded an RBI single in the third.

The Bucs kept Lipscomb off the board in the first, but the Bisons took advantage of some control problems by junior righty Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) an inning later. Morris walked three consecutive hitters with one out in the second and was pulled from the circle after Bridgette Begle worked a bases loaded walk to plate the first run of the game. With Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) taking over the pitching duties, Breanna Thurman greeted her with the first hit of the game as her single to center scored a pair of runs - putting Lipscomb up 3-0. The blunders continued mounting for the Blue and Gold as Mackenzie Tucker reached base despite striking out as she was called safe after Whitley Hensley (Erwin, Tenn.) was charged with a passed ball on the play. However, Henderson flashed some leather at third - holding Lipscomb to the three runs - as she went home on a Mollie Mitchell grounder and snagged a liner off the bat of Caroline Mason to keep the sacks full of Bison runners.

The Bucs put their first base runner on when Lower recorded a one-out single in the second, but Nelson forced Amy Campbell to fly out to left and Breanna Thurman robbed Arielle Garner of a hit in center to end the frame.

Lipscomb threatened in third, but with runners on second and third and only one out, Wolff settled in and worked out of the jam. The freshman righty forced Rena Cothron to line out to short and Wolff froze Begle on a full-count to end the inning.

Momentum shifted in the bottom half of the inning as the Blue and Gold pulled within a run (3-2) as ETSU scored the two runs on three hits. Hensley began the inning with a double to left-center - and after Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) moved Hensley over to third on a ground out to short - the Erwin, Tenn. native scored on a fielder's choice. Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) hit a slow roller to third, and Cothron came up firing to the plate; however, after catcher Mollie Mitchell dropped the ball Hensley was called safe. From there, Fox stole second and advanced to third on Marlina Delisa's (Tucson, Ariz.) single to right. Eventually Fox came in to score and made it a one-run contest when Henderson sent a rocket to right-center for a single - putting runners on second and third with only one out. However, the Bucs were unable to make more damage as Delisa was called out on a questionable play at third, and Lower hit into an inning-ending grounder to short.

Unfortunately, the Bisons regained momentum in the fourth as Lipscomb scored four runs, moving their lead to 7-2. Thurman led off the inning with a single to left and moved to second on Mitchell's one-out single to center. Lipscomb then loaded the bases after Mason worked a walk, but Wolff looked to be in control after she struck Medina out swinging, and had Courtney Billington down to her final strike with two outs. However, Billington found a pitch in her zone and cleared the bases with a double to left-center, and she crossed the plate for the fourth run of the frame on a wild pitch.

From there, Thurman added to Lipscomb's lead with a two-out solo homer to left-center in the fifth; while back-to-back doubles by the Nashville visitors made it a 9-2 contest in the sixth.

Nelson earned her first victory of the season (1-4) after being tagged for one earned run on six hits in seven innings of work. Despite issuing no hits to Lipscomb, Morris suffered the loss (5-5) after allowing three runs (two earned) in three innings. Morris walked five and struck out one.

ETSU returns to action Saturday afternoon when the Bucs host Belmont in a conference doubleheader. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. at Betty Basler Field.

For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.