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Head softball coach Kristin Ryman, beginning her 10th season, has developed the Lipscomb Lady Bisons into one of the top programs in the NCAA.
The Lady Bisons made their second trip to the NCAA Tournament, finishing second to Tennessee in the Knoxville Regional. Making the appearance even more impressive was the Lady Bisons became the first Lipscomb team to win an at-large berth in an NCAA Tournament and were one of two Atlantic Sun teams to receive at-large bids. It was the first time the conference had been awarded at-large bids in softball.
The Lady Bisons finished the season 41-15 overall, 18-8 in the A-Sun. This was the second time in Ryman’s career the Lady Bisons have won more than 40 games.
The Lady Bisons finished 33rd in the nation in the final NCAA RPI ratings, the highest ranking in the history of the program.
Paige Neely and Kelsey Cartwright were named A-Sun First Team All-Conference. Brittany Elmore, Rena' Cothron and Ashley Anderson were named Second Team All-Conference. Mimi Cartwright was unanimous selection to the A-Sun All-Freshman Team.
The Lady Bisons finished in the top 10 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association rankings of NCAA Division I All-Academic Teams.
The Lady Bisons completed the 2013-2014 academic year with a 3.559 grade point average. It is the highest ranking for the team, surpassing a No. 13 rating in 2012. In 2010 and 2011, the Lady Bisons also earned team scholastic honors from the NFCA
In nine seasons Ryman has tallied an overall record of 298-194-1. Since Ryman began coaching in 2006, she has managed to turn the Lipscomb softball program from a 14-win team to a consistent 30-plus game winner for each of the past five seasons.
Lipscomb has either won or been runner-up at the Atlantic Sun Tournament in four of the last five seasons, including a second place finish to USC Upstate in the 2013 Tournament.
The Lady Bisons finished fourth the regular season in the A-Sun for the second time in a row. They posted a 35-24 overall record, 18-8 in the A-Sun. They were ranked 49th in the final NCAA RPI, the second highest ranking in program history.
Brittany Elmore and Paige Neely both were named to the All-A- Sun First Team. Gracey Aguirre was selected for the second team.
Elmore, Tanner Sanders and Mickey Bell were named to the A-Sun All-Freshman Team. Elmore and Sanders were unanimous selections.
In 2012 the Lady Bisons finished in fourth place in the A-Sun with an 11-7 record. The Lady Bisons posted a 14-7 record at Draper Diamond, the site of the 2013 A-Sun Softball Tournament. They finished 35-20 overall, the third highest win total under Ryman’s direction. The Lady Bisons ranked 69th in the final RPI.
Kelsey Cartwright was named First Team All A-Sun in 2012. Whitney Kiihnl and Haley Elliott were each named Second Team All-Conference. Ashley Anderson and Gracey Aguirre were A-Sun All-Freshman Team selections.
The Lipscomb softball team has also gone out into the Nashville community. Under Ryman, Lipscomb has participated in home building for "Habitat for Humanity", breast cancer walks, the “Front Porch Ministry”, “Friends Life” mentoring at Cole Elementary and mission trips.
In 2011 the Lady Bisons finished second in the conference. They placed Caroline Mason on the All A-Sun First Team. Whitney Kiihnl and Courtney Billington made the Second Team. Haley Elliott was named to the All-Freshman Team.
The Lady Bisons finished the season 30-20 overall with a 15-5 conference record. They ranked 68th nationally in the RPI.
In 2010, the Lady Bisons began receiving more national attention. A conference regular season title, an Atlantic Sun Tournament Championship, and a trip to the NCAA Regional Finals to play the overall No. 1 seed Alabama went above and beyond the goals Ryman had set. The 2010 season established the Lipscomb softball program as a powerhouse not only in the Atlantic Sun, but also among the entire NCAA.
Kiihnl earned both A-Sun Player of the Year and A-Sun Pitcher of the Year for her performances in 2010, marking the first time a student-athlete has won both awards in the conference in the same year. Kiihnl finished 2010 as the national leader with a 0.98 earned run average.
The Lady Bisons were ranked 36th in the RPI, a program high, following the 2010 season and among the top 40 in every major poll.
In 2010 the Lady Bisons set a program record for shutouts with 29. The previous record was 17 set just one year earlier in 2009. The Lady Bisons finished with an overall record of 50-13, the most wins in the NCAA era for the program. They won the A-Sun regular season title with a conference record of 18-2.
In addition to traveling to the NCAA Regional, the Lady Bisons became the first Lipscomb team to win two regional games, defeating UAB twice before bowing out to Alabama.
Six players from the 2010 team were named to the All-A-Sun First Team – Kellie Sirus, Whitney Kiihnl, Lauren Dortwegt, Abby Keese, Mollie Mitchell and Courtney Billington.
Ryman was named the Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year for the second time in her career. She also won the award in 2008 when the team finished tied for the regular season title.
In 2009, the Lady Bisons finished 39-14, earning a then-program best second place regular season finish. The Purple-and-Gold went 12-3 in road games and were victorious in 10 straight road contests at one point. Whitney Kiihnl was A-Sun Freshman of the Year. Kellie Sirus was named A-Sun All-Conference First Team and also received honors as a COSIDA National All-Academic All-American.
The 2008 Lipscomb squad finished 29-26, winning the Lady Bisons first-ever A-Sun regular season title.
The Lady Bisons were 25-28-1 in 2007. They finished with a 9-8-1 worksheet in Atlantic Sun Conference games, good enough for a fifth place finish.
The 2006 team finished 14-34, 4-14 in the Atlantic Sun in Ryman's first season as head coach.
"When you get your first head coaching job you are trying to get your feet under you and you are trying to learn on the fly," said Ryman. "Now the big things are under control. Now we are putting our focus on the little things that are going to make this program better.
“We have come a long way since 2006. Our goal will continue to be growing on the national stage. We believe it is possible to do it all at Lipscomb.”
Ryman spent the 2005 season as a graduate assistant coach in softball and volleyball. She helped direct the softball team to it's first-ever berth in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. The Lady Bisons finished in a tie for third place in the A-Sun and entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed.
She worked with both former head coach Andy Lane and interim coach Cheryl Smith, who took over mid-season, as the Lady Bisons finished 27-24, 13-7 in the conference.
On the softball field Ryman was one of the most decorated players in program history. She excelled at shortstop and in centerfield, helping lead the Lady Bison softball program to 122 wins while being named All-Conference and All-Region.
She posted a career batting average of .300, a .400 on-base percentage, 150 runs, 187 hits, 34 doubles, 18 triples, 69 runs batted in, 41 stolen bases and a .940 fielding percentage. She was a four-year starter who served as team captain in 2003.
Ryman also set numerous school records in volleyball as a four-year starter, also becoming the first Lady Bison to be named to the A-Sun All-Conference Team.
Academically, Ryman was also a leader. In 2004 she won the James R. Byers Award given annually to the top male and female athlete at Lipscomb for leadership in athletics, academics and Christian life.
She was named NCAA Woman of the Year for the state of Tennessee in 2004. Ryman graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Health and Physical Education-Teaching. She was a member of the CoSIDA Academic All-American All-District IV second team.
Ryman was also a member of the Alpha Chi Honor Society and was honored by the Lipscomb Department of Education as 2004's top student teacher.
She is married to Brian Ryman, director of operations for athletics at Lipscomb. They live in Nashville.
She is the daughter of Barbara and Larry Peck of Smyrna, Tenn. She has three sisters: Karin, Katie, and Kelci.
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