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Softball Begins Outdoor Spring Practice

Thursday, January 19, 2012

When the temperature hovers around the freezing mark that means it is time for the Lipscomb Lady Bison softball team to start workouts outside.

The Lady Bison players started braving the elements Tuesday with a 2-1/2 hour workout at Draper Diamond. They split time Wednesday between McQuiddy Gym and Draper Diamond.

“The first day was good,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “We focused on defense. We had been hitting a lot last week inside and got a lot of hitting work in.

“The girls looked good after having a break. You never know how they are going to perform. But I am very excited with where they were after such a long time away from softball. We didn’t talk any steps backwards since the fall. This group is physically and mentally ready to go.”

One of the themes for the team this season is to work with a purpose as they try to improve on last year’s second place finish in the Atlantic Sun.

“Everything we do has a purpose to it no matter how big or small the task might be in practice,” Ryman said. “I may ask them to do something that may seem insignificant right now that may make a big difference in the spring.

“They need a lot of reps defensively. We are trying to also mix in those little details and situations to get them thinking about them.

“For the most part defensively we had good strong throws from our outfielders. They were all moving. They were all talking. We saw very positive things.”

Ryman is approaching the season with 14 healthy players. She doesn’t have many players to move around, but she likes the depth of the team despite the lack of numbers.

The outfield appears to be set with senior Caroline Mason in right, junior Bree Thurman in center and freshman Brianne Welch in right.

“Our outfield is pretty set at this point,” Ryman said. “Brianne may be the most fearless of our outfielders. She is just a go-getter. She is not going to hold back.”

Junior Vanessa Medina and sophomore Kristen Sturdivant are both working out at first base along with sophomore Haley Elliott.

“There is a battle going on over on that side of the field,” Ryman said.

Third base is also being contested with sophomore Rena’ Cothron and freshman Gracey Aguirre vying for playing time.

“They both had good falls hitting-wise,” Ryman said. “Both are very talented. Both are strong presences defensively. I would love to find a way to get both of them on the field defensively.”

Sophomore Bridgette Begle and junior Kelsey Cartwright will be anchoring the middle of the infield though it is uncertain which one will be at shortstop and which one will play second base.

“I feel comfortable with it either way,” Ryman said. “I am looking for someone who wants to play shortstop…somebody who will really be a presence over there. And I think they both do.

“The other thing is that the shortstop tends to get more ground balls than anyone else in the infield. Which one of them is going to be able to make the plays more consistently, but also make the plays more aggressively.”

Freshman Jordan Abell is also in the mix in the infield. Sophomore Shelby Cunningham is sidelined for the season due to an injury.

Senior Mollie Mitchell returns at catcher. Elliott also plays behind the plate as well.

Senior Whitney Kiihnl and redshirt freshman Ashley Anderson will handle the bulk of the pitching duties. Sturdivant also will get some time on the mound.