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4/10/2013 | Nashville, Tenn. | Attendance: 279
4/10/2013 | Nashville, Tenn. | Attendance: 178
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A few years ago a movie was made about a band of car thieves called “Gone in 60 Seconds”. If a movie was made about Lipscomb’s gang of base stealers in softball it would be titled “Gone in 60 Feet”.
This season the Lady Bisons have been fleet of foot on the base paths. Lead-off hitter Britanny Elmore has already shattered the school’s NCAA era record for stolen bases in a season with 22.
Elmore is 34th in NCAA Division I in stolen bases with an average of .58 per game. The Lady Bisons are ranked 20th nationally as a team with 72 stolen bases, 1.89 per game.
“I knew we had a chance to steal more bases this year than we ever have,” LU coach Kristin Ryman said. “Some of them are known for their speed like Brittany Elmore and Heather Montgomery.
“And then you have the other ones who have the power and the speed like Bree Thurman with some pop in her swing. Bridgette Begle and Paige Neely can hit a double or home run but are also known for their speed.”
The Lady Bisons, 20-18, welcome Belmont to Draper Diamond Wednesday night at 5 for the softball version of the “Battle of the Boulevard”. Belmont, playing in the Ohio Valley Conference, is 12-21 overall.
Even though the two teams are in different conferences the rivalry is still a strong one.
“Belmont is always going to be a rivalry,” Ryman said. “Whether we play them in a conference game or not, the games still matter. We will continue to play each other.”
The Bruins have three players batting higher than .300 – Kat Hollingsworth (.364), Kirbie Ferrell (.319) and Kimberly Johnson (.304).
Carolyn Snodgress, 4-5 with a 3.01 earned run average, is the top pitcher for Belmont.
The key to stealing bases is the ability to get on base. Ryman will be looking for Elmore, Montgomery, Neely, Thurman and Begle to continue to be active on the base paths against Belmont.
Montgomery has 12 stolen bases. Neely, Thurman and Begle each have nine.
“The whole key is that they are finding ways to get on base,” Ryman said. “Brittany was getting the majority of steals early on. Heather is finding more ways to get on base and she is an instant steal threat when she gets on. “
Ryman knows that the element of speed makes the Lady Bisons even more dangerous.
“There are not that many teams out there who have the team speed we have,” Ryman said. “It puts the other team on edge a little bit more.
“They have to be extra cautious about allowing those runners to get on base. If one of those runners gets on base for us the other team has to make adjustments in the field.”
When the fastest Lady Bisons are on base anything can happen. Ryman calls it “creating instant chaos”.
“There have been so many times this year where we have had a runner at third,” Ryman said. “As soon as the ball is coming down off the bat, we will have a runner take off from third.
“You see that with a lot of teams. But we have so many girls with the speed to take off and be safe at home. If they beat the throw to home out then we will have another runner safe at first.”
Ryman, as third base coach, is in charge of calling for a steal and also moving runners around the bases. She and her runners take an aggressive approach.
“Even if you are fast it is hard to steal a lot of bases if you don’t get good jumps off of the base,” Ryman said. “They have to know what type of slide to use in certain situations and be willing to slide head first.
“You have to have that gutsy, aggressive mentality. All of our speed kids have that mentality. They want me to give them a steal sign. They get frustrated if I don’t. Some of it is knowing that we have more speed than the catcher has arm. We take a bag because we know we can take it.”