Lipscomb's Kiihnl Throws a No-Hitter Against Butler

Monday, February 20, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nothing brightens up a cold and cloudy day like a win…unless it is two of them.

The Lipscomb Lady Bison put together a pair of victories Saturday in the first day of the Lady Bison Round Robin at Draper Diamond. The Lady Bison beat Butler 1-0 and closed out the day with a 5-2 win over Samford.

“It is good to walk away with two wins against up-and-coming teams,” Lady Bison coach Kristin Ryman said. “We, by no means, came into the day overlooking these two squads.”

Left-hander Whitney Kiihnl (3-2) pitched all 14 innings. She recorded her first no-hitter and second shutout of the season in game one, striking out 11 and walking only two. In the win over Samford she gave up seven hits while walking two and striking out six.

“We knew Whit was going to be worn down a little bit, but she came out and gave us everything she had,” Ryman said. “She gave up a few hits and some runs early, but kept us in it.

“Ideally, she doesn’t want to give up any runs and we understand that. But for her to keep us in the game and give us a chance was big. She did a really nice job. She was composed in tight situations and worked her way out of jams.”

The Lady Bison allowed Samford to score a pair of runs in the first inning on three hits. The big hit of the inning was an RBI-double to center by Abby Adams.

The Lady Bison started to fight back in the fourth. Kelsey Cartwright led off the inning with a home run to dead center field. Caroline Mason walked and then stole second. Gracey Aguirre singled to right field to bring Mason home with the tying run.

“Kelsey swings the bat hard every time,” Ryman said. “She is going to get into a groove. She got a little bit made at the plate. That home run sparked us. There were a lot of good at bats that followed.”

With one out in the fifth Bridgette Begle, Bree Thurman and Rena’ Cothron each singled. Begle scored on an error by Samford’s third baseman for the go-ahead run. After Cartwright lined out to first base Mason brought home Cothron and Thurman on a single to right field.

Right-hander Misha Aldridge threw six innings for Samford. She scattered seven hits, walked one and struck out five.

“It wasn’t always the prettiest game in some places,” Ryman said. “We had talked a lot about grinding it out and I thought we did that.”

Lady Bison 1, Butler 0

Haley Elliott slammed a solo shot to left center with two outs in the seventh inning to lift the Lady Bison to a 1-0 win over Butler.

Butler pitcher Jenny Esparza, a right-hander, struck out five and walked three. She gave up two hits as Cartwright singled to left center in the sixth inning.

“It was one of those games where both pitchers were throwing well,” Ryman said. “We were trying to find ways to get runners on base and move them around. But we knew it could come down to one big hit.”

Elliott was the designated player for the Lady Bison in both games. Ryman’s team is limited in the number of healthy players available but she has struggled to find ways to use all of her players that have strong hitting skills.

“Haley didn’t play as much in the Mardi Gras Tournament last week as we would have liked,” Ryman said. “She came up with a big, clutch hit. We know she is capable of doing that.

“We have a lot of good hitters from top to bottom. It is hard to find a way to get them all in. We don’t have a lot of depth, but the depth that we have is good.”

Defensively, the Lady Bison combined for three errors. Aguirre made an outstanding catch against Butler in left field in game one. Begle made a couple of solid plays at shortstop against Samford.

“We keep working on defense,” Ryman said. “We are trying to work through a few kinks. We have a strong defense. We have an athletic defense.”