Whitney Kiihnl allowed three hits and struck out 11 as Lipscomb defeated Alabama-Birmingham 4-1 Friday at Tuscaloosa, Ala. in their NCAA softball tournament debut.
Kiihnl did not allow a hit until the third. By that time she had a three-run lead. The sophomore drove in the Lady Bisons’ final run on a fielder’s choice in the top of the fifth.
“I was nervous and was like ‘please don’t hit it’ today,” Kiihnl said. “I’ve never been at Regionals so I guess the nerves got to me a little bit.”
Mackenzie Tucker matched UAB’s hit total as she went 3-for-4 with two singles and a double. She doubled with one out in the first and scored the game’s first run when Courtney Billington doubled two batters later. Tucker added an RBI single in the second that made it 3-0.
Lipscomb (49-11) became just the second Atlantic Sun Conference team to win a game in the tournament. Florida Atlantic, now a member of the Sun Belt, won one in 2006. It also tied the program record for most wins in a season originally set in 1997, when it competed in the NAIA.
UAB (36-21) scored its lone run in the bottom of the seventh when shortstop Kayla Orr led off with a home run. Kiihnl struck out the next three batters and ended the contest.
“Whitney is that ‘next-level’ pitcher for us,” coach Kristen Ryman said. “She’s someone that can keep us in the game against anybody we play. Anytime you can have a pitcher like that as a mid-major program it really allows you to compete with those next-level teams. She’s only a sophomore and has only continued to get better.”
The Lady Bisons will play Alabama, the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, at 1:30 p.m. (CDT) Saturday.
Alabama (49-9) defeated Alcorn State (23-24) 9-0 in the day’s second contest.
“Alabama is one of the best hitting teams in the nation, if not the best,” Kiihnl said. “I’m going to have to be confident and just throw my game. If they hit, they hit it. If they don’t, they don’t. That’s the way it goes.”
Trevecca delayed a day by rain at NAIA tournament
The second day of round-robin play at the NAIA Softball National Championship was postponed by rain at the Wilson Morgan Softball Complex in Decatur, Ala.
Trevecca, which won its opener 13-3 over Savannah College of Art and Design on Thursday, will face Notre Dame (Ohio) at 3 p.m. Saturday in a game originally scheduled for Friday.
Pool play now is scheduled to conclude Monday. The elimination round will commence later that day.